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<img id="image2833" src="http://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/jaxtrlogo.bmp" alt="jaxtrlogo.bmp" /Free phone service Jaxtr finally launches today.
The Palo Alto start-up is another one of those free phone services, which along with Skype, Jajah and Grand Central is enough to send you into brain overload. Which one to use? Each one has its own tweak on the free Internet call, contact list and central control dashboard.
Jaxtr’s promise was enough to lure away Konstantin Guericke from LinkedIn, where he was co-founder. It begins in a closed testing phase, letting in people users on a case-by-case basis.
Jaxtr’s claim to fame is two-fold:
1) The first claim is that it lets you put a widget/sign up on any blog that lets people know how to reach you, but without giving out your number (see screenshot of orange widget on a MySpace profile below). They just click on the widget, and Jaxtr puts a call Internet through to you.
Let’s say you’re a young single gal, which is Jaxtr’s initial target group. If a suitor clicks on the widget button that says “call now,” Jaxtr asks for his phone number, and he types it in. Jaxtr calls his phone (mobile or fixed, it doesn’t matter), in order to connect him to an Internet line. It then puts him on hold while it puts the call through to you. (This may sound complicated, but we got used to do doing this on Jajah, which works similarly). Jaxtr lets you know whether he is “unknown,” or someone in your contact list. Jaxtr, via its dashboard, lets you save settings, so you can have calls from “unknown” or particular people diverted directly into your voicemail, and so on. (See the image at very bottom for a screen shot of the dashboard).
2. Jaxtr’s second claim to fame, however, is its single URL link. It lets you bag a link like www.jaxtr.com/mattmarshall (we haven’t registered it yet), which you can carry forever. This lets people reach you anytime, even if you change phone numbers. All they do is click on the link and they’ll be directed to your current phone number, as you have selected it on Jaxtr. Jaxtr also associates the URL with a single Jaxtr phone number. So when we used tested Jaxtr by calling Guericke, we saved his Jaxtr number in our contact list, and now we can call him, regardless of where he is in — in the office, or on his cell. If he is on the road, he can switch his settings to receive calls on his mobile, etc.
This single phone number handle/URL is what may propel Jaxtr to the top of the heap. However, like all new offerings, Jaxtr’s challenge will be to overcome the “laziness” factor. Who needs another number for their friends? But for those who make lots of international calls, it could be a big deal. We make such calls. We know someone in London who has refused to go to the trouble of downloading Jajah on her cell. Jaxtr, however, doesn’t require a download. Now she can call our Jaxtr number for free.
You get 100 minutes/month of free incoming calls. Beyond that, calls get forwarded to voicemail. You can pay to upgrade. Jaxtr also wants to charge for other services, such as ringback tones. Jaxtr has eight employees, and is self-funded [Clarification: Despite initially telling Venture Beat he hadn’t raised money, Guericke clarified for VentureBeat Thursday that while Jaxtr has not raised a Series A, it has raised an angel round. He said his focus is on launching the company and showing some traction before going for a Series A. He said the investors so far include Reid Hoffman, The Founders Fund and Howard Hartenbaum, founding investor in Skype for Draper Richards. Also, Chamath Palihapitiya put in some money for Mayfield Fund. Thanks to Petr M in comments for helping ferret this out.]
Aside: So why did Guericke (pictured here) leave LinkedIn at time when LinkedIn chief executive Reid Hoffman is proclaiming the company has just reached its “tipping point”? Guericke said LinkedIn was challenge when it was a small start-up, but it is now profitable and well on its way, and he is looking to make more of an impact as chief executive of a start-up. Moreover, Guericke has vested his LinkedIn options, so he is not walking away empty-handed. Finally, he says Jaxtr is an example of a social networking “platform,” which he says is the way of the future.