Thursday, November 4, 2004
Interview with John Greathouse, CallWave
John Greathouse is the new EVP Sales and Business Development of CallWave, which recently had an IPO on the NASDAQ under the symbol CALL. I spoke with John to see how the IPO has gone, as well as to get an idea of where the company is going.
BK: Congratulations on your recent IPO. For those who aren't familiar with Callwave, can you explain what services Callwave offers?
JG: We provide VoIP applications that enhance the existing telecom services used by mainstream homes and home/small offices. Our services are delivered on a monthly subscription basis, and are distributed both direct from www.callwave.com and through our reseller partners like Earthlink. These services add a number of software-based call-handling features to our subscribers' incoming calls, and help them get their important calls by bridging all three networks now available in the mainstream home: landline, mobile, and the Internet.
I recommend that your readers sign up for a free trial at www.callwaveconnect.com, as our services really need to be experienced to be fully appreciated. For instance, you can screen an incoming voicemail in real-time on your cell phone, as the message is being left, and then decide if you want to interrupt the message and take the call. It's just like standing over your answering machine at home and listening to the message before deciding to take the call.
BK: How has the IPO process been for the company? Are employees finding going public as rewarding as they'd hoped?
JG: CallWave has always been managed with a very disciplined focus on earnings and creating shareholder value. Given that our employees also own a significant portion of our stock, it is rewarding that their collective efforts have resulted in the completion of a world-class public offering.
All the employees at CallWave understand that the IPO is simply a milestone - one of many that the Company has achieved during the past six years. As such, the IPO is simply the beginning of a new phase in the company's corporate life.
BK: I understand there is some substantial technology involved in your services. What is the company's core technology, and how has it enabled you to provide the services you do?
JG: CallWave's patented Enhanced Services Platform is a softswitch (built to the carrier standard of five nines of reliability) that uses conventional telephone network signaling (SS7) to intercept calls and add software-based call handling features for our subscribers. Our platform bridges all three networks found in the mainstream home - landline, mobile, and IP - allowing subscribers to screen and take calls on whatever network is available.
BK: Now that Callwave is public, do you see any big changes for the company?
JG: We continue to manage and operate the company with a long-term view of developing and distributing meaningful telecom solutions that can be economically leveraged by the mass market. This objective has not and will not be impacted by the fact that we have accessed the public capital markets.
On the partnership front, we are now better positioned to enter into new relationships. We also gain additional marketing muscle afforded us by the IPO proceeds.
BK: As someone who was at Expertcity during its acquisition by Citrix, how Would you compare the experience of an acquisition versus an IPO?
JG: Both transactions have proven very rewarding for the respective shareholders and employees. In both cases, the transaction itself represented a new beginning, as opposed to an end.
The primary difference between the two transactions is that CallWave's IPO gives the current management team the financial muscle to accelerate our growth while sustaining the nimbleness which we had prior to our IPO. In addition, the management retains 100% autonomy to continue to direct the day-to-day operations of the business, which leads to less ambiguity among our employees, partners and other stakeholders.
BK: What would you say is the biggest compelling reason people use Callwave and decide to subscribe to your services?
JG: Our subscribers are loyal customers because we improve and extend the functionality of their existing telecom services at a very affordable price with simple-to-use software that starts working immediately after a 1 minute download. With that underlying approach, we help people solve lots of specific problems, from missing calls when online, to catching important business calls when they are away from the office, to blocking telemarketer calls.
BK: Finally, are there any features or directions Callwave looking at in the future to further enhance your service?
JG: Growth in broadband and wireless certainly present opportunities for CallWave to deliver new VoIP enhanced services that increase the value of these networks for our existing subscribers and for new markets. We will continue to serve the mainstream consumer and small office / home office in the future.