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Jangl's new angle on phone calling

We weren't sure about Jangl when we first sat down with founder Michael Cerda last week. But after an hour of dissecting the company and its product, it seems Cerda might be onto something.

Jangl is a new phone service that, initially anyway, will allow people to anonymize their phone numbers the same way they can their email addresses when posting on places such as craigslist. When you sign up with Jangl, you get access to disposable phone numbers that you can share with friends or strangers with whom you transact business. The phone numbers forward to your real number and anonymize in both directions.

The first time someone calls a Jangl user, they go through an approval process. It's similar to the challenge-response systems used by some email services. When we tried it with Cerda, it took nearly a minute of back-and-forth key commands before we could connect. Once you're on the white list, though, all subsequent calls go through more quickly.

Where would you use something like this? When you're buying and selling online. We see people publicize their cell phone numbers all the time on craigslist. With Jangl they could add a layer of anonymity.

When you're dating. Give your date your Jangl number, and then dump the number when you dump him.

On your blog or web site, as a another way to let people contact you.

There's more, though. Because Jangl is IP-based on the backend, the service can also be used to deliver a wide variety of content to mobile phone users. Set up your account so that callers can press 1 to hear a song by your band (Cerda, a musician, is doing this on his Jangl number), press 2 to see your photos, and so on. Hosting a party? You could serve up directions from a special Jangl phone number that only your friends have access to. In theory, any IP-based content that can work on phones could be served through Jangl. We can envision lots of opportunities for businesses big and small to offer content to mobile users in this way.

Cerda also touts the fact that Jangl doesn't need a presence on a mobile carrier's deck and is essentially device-agnostic. In other words, anyone can use the service.

The business model is in flux, in the sense that users will help shape it depending upon their preferences. A subscription service is one option. But Cerda is keen on short audio ads that get inserted into calls when Jangl initiates connections between two people.

A few questions immediately come to mind:

Is phone privacy that big an issue that people will want to use this?
Privacy aside, is there an opportunity to use Jangl to connect with your social networks?
Can Jangl keep the connection time down to a reasonable level so that it doesn't annoy people? Would you wait 10, 15, 25 seconds for a call to go through?
Will users endure mirco audio ads in their phone calls?

Jangl will likely get the answers to many of these questions soon. It's inked a deal with an unnamed partner, and that launch is imminent. Another partnership will launch in the fall. In the meantime, regular Joes can now sign up to be part of the beta at the main web site.

As for the company itself, you might have heard of Jangl under its previous name, Buzzage, which we last wrote about here. The company is based in Pleasanton and has raised $2 million from Storm Ventures and Labrador Venture.

Cerda has been working in IP and phone stuff for years. He worked at Redback Networks and founded Ooma, among other things. He's also surrounded himself with a team of people from places such as Covad, TellMe, Telocity and Sprint.

Cerda tackles the questions we raised on the Jangl blog.

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It is a good idea though because people fear SPIT, SPEW and SPAM (sounds like Kellogs Rice Crispies). Being able to have "do not call" type functionality on your IP phone may well prove useful. However, add inserts into phone based communications have to the best of my knowledge, never worked. The service could have value in an IP calling world where you offer to mediate between two people or parties that find each other online so that you can retain some control over who calls you and when. THink Match.com:You call someone, talk, talk some more, and only then do you give permission for that person "to see" your number, or even call you back "though the service". It could also be the equivalent to having a "phone certificate" where at the very least I know that your online "IP number" is traceable, and perhaps that you are who you say you are. However, this entire area may very well be subsumed under companies offering idendity management and protection tools.

PaulSweeney on May 28, 2006 9:24 AM
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I ike that idea of Jangl and I cn't wait to use it.

allyson on May 28, 2006 10:23 AM
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I ike that idea of Jangl and I cn't wait to use it.

allyson on May 28, 2006 10:23 AM
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Interesting Idea. But is Phone Spam such a big problem already?

web20guy on May 28, 2006 8:45 PM
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Wow. This is HUGE. I totally plan on using this once I get back to the states (I'm in Thailand now).

I do NOT want the NSA doing social network analysis on my phone calls. I don't for a MINUTE believe that they're not listening my calls but they've admitted that they're doing social network analysis on the numbers dialed.

Anyway.... I'll totally pay for such a service and plan on being a customer as soon as possible :)

Keep up the good work guys!

Kevin Burton on May 29, 2006 3:19 AM
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I like talktrust.com. It's already open for business and provides many features over and above just the dating.
By the way, you could use talktrust while you are in Thailand? Give it a try..


Nadia on May 31, 2006 7:43 AM
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Anonymous calls is a good thing.
"Free" is also a good thing!

I have been using TalkTrust for over a month now.

And sorry Jangl, but you ain't no TalkTrust yet.

If you wish to call me, go ahead.
My TalkTrust number and extension are:
(415)-234-5678 ext:469155


Joel on May 31, 2006 9:59 AM
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Well...I wasn't going to say anything after the first talktrust person posted, but now that there are two I feel obliged. Talktrust assigns you a phone number and an extension. This extension allows users to certainly post a number, or hand out a number. Users can also receive voice mail, delivered by e-mail. So ok, someone calls my talktrust extension and leaves me a message, I listen to it on my computer, and then what? I call the person back and they get my real number by caller ID? It defeats the purpose.

Our first iteration of closed beta was similar to this. By listening to our users and using some common sense, it didn't take long to realize consumers don't want to hand out phone numbers + extensions, and their callers certainly don't want to go through the hassle of doing this everytime they make calls. We also learned that consumers don't want yet another place to go check voice mail. And...we also learned 1-way privacy is only 50% private.

These are just some of the reasons jangl isn't like talktrust. But believe me there are more. I'm just not tellin' yet.


Michael Cerda on June 1, 2006 8:12 PM
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Hi! MC,

As per your comments, I don't think you quite get it yet re: TalkTrust :)

With TalkTrust, I can direct incoming calls to my landline, mobile or internet phone. For each call both - the caller and I - don't need to share numbers and remain anonymous (100% mutual privacy).

I can't speak for your claimed customer study, but I can tell you this for sure.

I sell my expertise on open-source tools and I have clients asking to remain anonymous. With TalkTrust's mutual privacy on contact, I am expanding my services to these clients easily. In this case, I choose NOT to remain anonymous, but wanted to point out how the buyer's anonymity translates to more $$ for me.

On the other hand, as a seller on eBay and Craigslist, I choose to remain anonymous.
I have sold my motorcycle recently using TalkTrust, and let me tell you - when you get "DarkRider" calling you to talk about your bike, you WANT to remain anonymous on contact! :-)

NET: I love TalkTrust's ability to let me receive calls from any phone, provide me with multiple extensions to manage different groups, and provide mutual privacy per call.

As and when you show me what really works in Jangl -I'll be happy to check it out.

Meanwhile, I like what TalkTrust does for me and love their team's skill and responsiveness in taking my feedback and continuing to build more value into it for all.


Joel on June 2, 2006 2:47 PM
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What do you do when DarkRider calls, leaves you a message, and you need to call him back? Does talktrust give you a way to mask your caller ID? From my using of the service, the answer is no. This is what I mean by 1-way anonymity.

For your application though, given you make money from people calling you for advice, you might consider Ether. Their roots are in Ingenio, who's made a living helping experts sell advice.


Michael Cerda on June 2, 2006 3:46 PM
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Can one get rid of the Land Line completely. Will Jangl depend on any of the Broad band service prividers.

How do we use Jangl using a Mobile Phone ?

Can this be used to make International Calls like any of the VOIP services ? If yes how will it be priced amd the modus operandi?

Tried to register by providing the email address but your site refused to accept!!!!!

Ashok Paddy on June 5, 2006 3:38 AM
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Ashok, jangl is not a phone replacement service a la the VoIP providers or mobile carriers. That said, jangl is agnostic to the type of phone you have or use. We don't require broadband. All we require is that you have at least one phone service. Calls that come into your jangl #s will forward to your phone of choice. We'll be saying more soon, as we haven't launched just yet. As for beta registration, we're certainly accepting registrations, but for the July timeframe.


Michael Cerda on June 5, 2006 9:24 AM
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i came here from techdirt and i think it's great that they are using VOIP for more than just a cheap replacement for the phone. don't know how useful it will be, but on the wild days of the dot com bubble "if you build it, they will come"

as a 2001 era DotCommie i hope wish these guys the best. hopefully the world is nicer to startups this time around :-)

chris on June 7, 2006 11:33 AM
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The so called disposable number is a blatant lie.
It should actually be called „recyclable numberš.
When I think of disposable, I think toilet papers.
What worries me most is the recycled number circulating
through bad guys and finally approaching my teenager.
Instead of creating safety, it would actually create a nightmare.
I see tossabledigit, privacall, talktrust.com getting into this business
with so called extension. I think it‚s safer to use extensions that never
gets reused∑

My 2 cents.

Nizar on June 14, 2006 4:52 PM
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I have been using TalkTrust.com to talk to my folks back home. It works like a charm and also supports using an ATA so that you don't have to be PC tethered. Comes with FREE softphone if you want to give it a try.
With TalkTrust, you can also forward calls to your landline/mobile phone as well as globally using the internet phone.

Try http://www.talktrust.com. It's FREE


Somya on June 14, 2006 4:55 PM
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Nizar-jangl is nothing like any of these companies you and Somya are referring to. Our users get relationship based phone numbers, which work in both directions, protecting the user's privacy 100%, not just 50% which is what these other guys are doing. We haven't launched, so all I can ask is that you reserve judgement for now. I think you'll realize jangl is more about liberating your communications rather than aiding the creeps in their creepdom. We bridge the communication mode you have come to love online, to the phone channel.


Michael Cerda on June 27, 2006 8:12 PM
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I am not sure I understand what is unique about this service. We (junction networks) run a sip based phone service with a forwarding feature. Calls can be forwarded anywhere the user likes. What is different about Jangl? If you are using a SIP service, you can have an unlimited number of numbers, sip addresses, etc, pointed at any phone number, cell phone number, sip address, etc.

Rob Wolpov on July 7, 2006 9:51 AM
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For a more full service that includes a disposable phone number AND email address + a personal Web url for pictures & text - visit http://www.myadbox.com

These began this concept back in 2003 and it shows with the amount of services they have...

Irene on August 19, 2006 1:41 AM
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