UpdatedYoomba, a Menlo Park-based company founded in Israel, lets you send and receive VoIP calls and instant messages from your existing e-mail service.
It’s a download but requires no sign-up — and so avoids you having to create a separate account at a service like Skype or Jajah.
There are other downloadable tools like Trillian and Adiumx and web-based services like Meebo that allow you to manage chat and IM screen names from a single page. There are plenty of other players in the VoIP market. Yoomba is different because it lets you extend a single identity — any e-mail address — into both chat and VoIP without much ado.
Products like Skype require creating yet another online identity, says Yoomba Chief Executive Elad Hemar. With Yoomba, you go to its site, enter your e-mail address, and get a self-installing downloadable client that turns your e-mail into a service for online chat and VoIP communication.
If you are using Internet Explorer (support for Firefox is coming), when you’ve installed Yoomba, you will see two lilttle buttons next to every e-mail you get: one to make calls, the other to send an IM. See screenshot above. Yoomba works on GMail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. It also works on Outlook, an email client that is browser independent.
If the person you want to call or IM does not have Yoomba installed, he will receive an e-mail with a link that will send him to the download and get him up and running on Yoomba in a couple of minutes. This, of course, is where some will balk. Many people will not be willing to inflict that sort of spamming on their friends or professional contacts. But, once that friend has downloaded the service, you can call or IM them at their e-mail address.
It’s a novel approach to VoIP and IM. However, in addition the spam factor, it’s also not clear whether the market needs it. Millions of users are already comfortable with their own IM services; Skype is everywhere and, unlike Yoomba, allows people to call land-lines and cell phones. Elad says that these features are in the pipeline.
The company has raised an undisclosed sum –in the millions — from US Venture Partners and Global Catalyst Partners.