Congratulations to Michael Robertson and team at Gizmo5 for all of their hard work and perseverance! There is not a lot I can tell you about the future plans for Google Voice, but I do believe it is important to look back to see how we got here. We made our investment in Gizmo5 (aka as sipphone and gizmo project) in early 2006. What Michael and I shared was a vision of openness for the VOIP and IM World. As I wrote on a blog post in January 2006, consumers want what Google and Gizmo5 will hopefully provide in the near future:
At the end of the day consumers don't care about protocols, they just want it all to work seamlessly and easily, and they do not want to be on their own island for communications. What I want is one identity or phone number that works on any IM network, VOIP network, or even integrates with my PSTN and cell phone identity?
Between 2006 we definitely had some ups and downs but through it all two big decisions helped us get here today. First, we drastically cut the burn rate before the nuclear winter and decided to focus on getting to breakeven. Being capital efficient and reliant on viral marketing certainly helped us grow our business and stay lean and mean. Secondly, when Grand Central came out with their single phone number we decided to integrate Gizmo5 into their service. Of course since both Grand Central (now Google Voice) and Gizmo5 were SIP compliant and based on open standards it certainly made that process quite trivial and easy.
Fast forward 3 1/2 years to today, and all I can say is that I look forward to seeing what Google Voice will bring into the future and whether true openness can trump Skype's proprietary protocols. It also seems like the vision of one number for PSTN, VOIP, or cell identity I wrote about long ago will become a reality. One last thanks goes out to Maurice Werdegar and the team at Western Technology Investments (WTI) who provided Gizmo5 with venture debt and worked closely with us in the tough times to restructure our payments. I would work with these guys any time.