Fring may be one of the more interesting stories in the telecom space. The company launched one of the first VoIP apps I used on the iPhone – if not the first. They then sold to GENBAND some years later to be the core enabler of a hosted VoIP platform carriers could purchase from GENBAND and resell to their customers. In short, a simple cloud-based white-label way to compete with OTT without massive investment.
It enabled among other things, carriers to target expat groups which called home a lot with special offers consisting of low per-minute rates to their home country and more.
While this has been a successful model for the company, GENBAND has decided to take it to the next level by spinning the now Kandy-powered Fring back out into the Fring Alliance – a company which will be owned in-part by GENBAND as well as the carrier-customers.
Carriers can use the modifiable service for a nominal fee and in exchange, their users can benefit from a federated directory. Moreover, carriers need to promote the service as powered-by-fring and also display and share presence information. The equity is determined by the initial number of subscribers and all carriers get equity based on active users.
In a sense, shareholders are continually diluted but in terms of overall value, networks such as WhatsApp, Fring, etc. show a massive spike in valuation once active user numbers get to significantly large numbers. In other words there is the potential for an exponential boost in value if enough carriers participate. The company believes the magic number, where the valuation jumps is around 100 million. Expect GENBAND to announce a new set of customers at their Perspectives conference this summer – and I hope to see you there.
One other point – Brad Bush will be leaving the company at the end of June and new CMO Patrick Joggerst will be talking the helm. We wish them both well – there are lots of exciting things happening at GENBAND these days.
Finally, this move is a really big deal. GENBAND management is not afraid to take risks. They purchased fring which competed with their customers to some degree in order to allow their customers to deploy a service instead of installing equipment. Now, they are looking at the lofty valuations of the most popular apps and developing new ways to get themselves and their customers into the game. Fring may never be worth the $100 billion some say WhatsApp could be worth but that misses the point. GENBAND is moving faster than the field – even after they purchased the relatively huge Nortel carrier business. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out but as I’ve said in the past, its better to be fast than right. It’s very possible with these latest moves, GENBAND is both.