Lise Buyer, the former investment banker who joined Google to help usher it through its initial public offering last year, is leaving Google.
Her last day is today. She is heading over to join another start-up called Tellme, a Mountain View telephony company where she knows some of the management from her Netscape days, including chief executive and co-founder Mike McCue, not to mention John Doerr, the venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Apparently, Tellme is already profitable.
She said her departure from Google is “friendly,” but that she was looking for a bigger opportunity. “For better or worse, I have this habit of being really interested in what’s coming up next,” she told us. One promising area is the convergence of data on the Net and voice applications, where Tellme is active….(more)…
For the record, Buyer declined to talk about the ins and outs of Google’s controversial IPO process. (Update: See this Chron story, though, about how SEC regulators and Google hashed it out behind the scenes. Seems the article’s headline is wrong, though, because Google told the SEC to get lost a couple of times, too)
She said she is still getting to know Tellme, but said there are good reasons to believe voice applications is about to take off, as quality of service improves from just “ok” to much better. She said the screens of the PC and mobile devices are great for conducting a lot of business, but that some people prefer to “hear” things, rather than squinting at a screen — especially the elderly population.
By 2000, Tellme had received at least $125 million in capital during bubble, including from Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark and at least $60 million from AT&T. Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale and ex-Microsoft exec Brad Silverberg also invested in Tellme.
Despite Tellme’s emergence during the heady days of the Internet bubble, Buyer says the company has “buttoned down and turned out an overall solid business with enormous potential.” Here are some older stories about Tellme, by CNET, and Wired.
The company previously said it had a list of about 5,000 developers using its services to create new applications for the Tellme service. The Wired article talked about how Tellme Networks was turning the phone into a voice-driven browser that lets you talk to the Web. “Better yet, the Web talks back,” the piece crowed. The piece also talked about chief executive Mike McCue’s efforts to recruit top Stanford grads by delivering free pizza at midnight via the backseat of his 740i.
One competitor is Voxify, of Alameda. Voxify execs have said Tellme deals with high-call volumes, while Voxify addresses both high and low volumes — a claim we haven’t verified. Voxify has raised at least $16 million recently from Sigma, El Dorado and Palomar Ventures.
Buyer will be VP of Strategic Partnerships at Tellme, which is different from her focused role leading investor relations at Google. Still, we asked whether her hire means Tellme is about to launch an IPO. “I’m trying not to get typecast,” she responded. The Tellme position appeals to her, she said, precisely because it will let her do much more than just finance. “This is a chance for me to hopefully to play a much greater role.”