Jangl and Jajah, once rival web-calling companies, join forces

jajah-jangl.jpgOnline telephone services Jajah and Jangl have joined forces to overcome the large odds against them in the cut-throat, low-cost world of telephone calls.

Under their accord, the two sides will exploit Jajah’s wider infrastructure and Jangl’s growing user base on Web sites. The deal heralds a consolidation in the busy Internet telephone industry — which is filled with wannabe start-ups.

Jangl and Jajah have been scrappier than most. Jangl offers a white-label calling service on dating sites and provides calling widgets people can embed on their social network profile pages. You enter your phone number on a Jangl site or widget, then you get a disposable phone number that you can pass out to friends — or dates — without revealing your real number. You can make calls across landline and mobile devices; you can make international calls at local rates.

Jajah offers similar services, although it has not cut as many deals with other sites.

The idea behind this strategic partnership is to build on Jajah’s technical expertise in Internet telephony, extending that infrastructure worldwide. Jangl will use this infrastructure, in some cases, to provide calling services to its larger distribution across Web sites.

The two companies will run advertising across many of their web properties and split the revenue, using the advertising system Jajah recently launched. They will keep the names of their existing products.

We talked with Michael Cerda, chief executive of Jangl and Roman Scharf, cofounder of Jajah, who explained the rationale behind the deal.

The market is “seemingly crowded,” Cerda told us, “and people — the press, venture folks and end users — are confused” about how the services are different from each other.

Jajah, Jangl and a third competitor, Jaxter, have been lumped together as companies that have received funding from VCs but don’t have clear ways to become big businesses or pull ahead — “bubble” companies, as USA Today wrote in this article.

This strategic partnership is “going to surprise people, it cuts off some companies at the knees — you know who I’m talking about,” Cerda told us, obviously referring to Jaxtr.

“Some [VoIP] companies don’t have anything specific. There are a lot of weak concepts and strategies,” Scharf said. Jajah has telephony infrastructure in 55 countries, which it claims makes it the most widespread telephony system. There are VoIP competitors. Skype is one, and it has many more users. Jangl and Jajah say their services are easier to use than Skype because they don’t require users to download software or buy a special headset in order to make calls.

Both companies are mulling new opportunities on web and mobile. Jajah will launch an application programming interface (API) so other developers can build Jajah’s calling services into their applications. Jajah and Jangl will also develop calling applications to run on social networks that use Open Social, the Google-led initiative to allow applications to work on multiple social networks.

The companies are looking at ways of doing revenue-sharing deals with third-party developers.

Jangl has raised $9 million from Storm Ventures, Labrador Ventures and Cardinal Venture Capital.

Jajah, is backed by Sequoia Capital, and recently raised $20 million in a third round led by Intel Capital.