Channel Partners

November 1, 2002

14 Min Read
Channel News

Posted: 11/2002

Channel News

Compiled and reported by Khali
Henderson and Tara Seals

eDial Debuts Audio/Web
Conferencing Appliance for Sale Through Channels

eDial
Inc. announced the availability of the eDial AudioPresenter 3.0, a simple and
low-cost audio conferencing solution with integrated Web presentation
capabilities. The new unit is available for sale through margin-based resellers,
commissioned sales reps and referral partners.

eDial AudioPresenter 3.0 is a single
hardware appliance that installs into an organization’s existing telephone and
data networks, enabling its staff to communicate and deliver presentations to
customers, clients, partners and other employees via the phone and a standard
Web browser. The appliance uses a PRI to connect to the CO and to the PBX, or it
can plug right into a gateway for a pure IP environment.

Enhancements in version 3.0 include
the addition of Web presentation capability, call control features, billing
codes and roll-call functionality, says Bill Andrews, senior vice president of
marketing and sales for eDial.

The unit is targeted at small- and
medium-sized businesses with up to 10,000 employees as an alternative to
subscription-based services, he says and adds the unit is designed to facilitate
the functions these companies really use. About 50 percent of audio conferences
now include presentations and 70 percent to 80 percent of Web conferences are
only presentations, not collaboration or white boarding, eDial reports.

By combining audio conferencing and
Web presentations, eDial delivers a return on investment in six to nine months,
says Andrews, explaining that combining competitive audio and Web appliances
costs two to three times the price of eDial AudioPresenter 3.0. The unit costs
$28,000 for 24 ports or simultaneous streams.

The value proposition extends to
subscription services, Andrew says. Outside audio conference service providers
typically require customers to pay a premium to host calls that is as high as
four times an organization’s long-distance rate. The cost is even higher to add
Web presentations. Since the eDial AudioPresenter 3.0 is located within a
company’s own telephone and data networks, there is no need to pay anything more
than the standard long distance rate.

"Over the last year, audio and
data convergence has been a subject of great interest within the conferencing
industry," said Frost & Sullivan analyst David Alexander. "Much of
this interest is founded on the concept that converged conferencing solutions
can provide end users with a greater level of efficiency and functionality while
also minimizing network constraints. The eDial AudioPresenter 3.0 addresses this
shifting demand toward audio and data convergence within enterprises while also
delivering an intriguing value proposition."

Andrews says eDial is transitioning
to a channel model, having sold some product directly while the product has been
in development. Last quarter the company attributed 20 percent of its revenue to
channel partners; next quarter it expects it to be 40 percent, Andrews says.

The company has three resellers in
California, Seattle and Texas. These companies buy the appliance at 35 percent
markdown. Andrews says the resellers are telecom and network VARs with the
ability to sell and install.

The company also is using
independent sales representatives and Andrews says there also are three agents
on board. Agents receive a 20 percent commission on sales. eDial takes care of
the support and installation.

A new program with 5 percent
commissions is available for affiliates who refer business, Andrews says.

Dave Casey, vice president of
network integration firm Westron Communications, says his firm has been
reselling AudioPresenter since this summer and has found it a useful lead in for
approaching new and existing customers about their IP voice and data
requirements. He says most customers are surprised to learn they can bring their
conferencing services in house. "Many people are not aware that there are
appliance-based systems," he says.

"Most companies saw their
conferencing services bill bumped up over the past year [following Sept.
11]," he says, noting that has caused them to examine if there is a better
way to do it. He says his experience is that ROI in the eDial appliance is less
than a year for most customers.

Westron sells a 24-port
nonupgradeable system for $28,000 plus professional services and an upgradable
system (up to 48 ports) for $32,000. Margins run in the mid-to-high 20 percent,
he says.

BCS Signs U.S. Resale Agreement
with York Telecom

York Telecom Corp. has signed a deal
to resell the Virtual Presence video collaboration service from the U.S.
division of Canada-based Broadband Collaborative Solutions Inc. (BCS).

York Telecom offers professional
consulting, integration and operational services for visual communication
solutions such as video conferencing, video on demand, streaming video, custom
room design and multimedia network management.

BCS’s Virtual Presence
point-and-click service provides real-time collaboration, combining video, audio
and data conferencing. Virtual Presence offers better than telephone sound and
TV-quality picture. Its real-time collaboration capability lets users see and
talk to each other, while simultaneously working on any type of software
application, such as word processing documents, presentations and spreadsheets.

The BCS solution is endpoint
independent and has been tested with most major codec manufacturers such as
Polycom and Tandberg to ensure maximum interoperability.

A+ Conferencing Rolls Out Agent
Equity Program

After the successful sale of his
conferencing company, entrepreneur Mike Burns made a nice chunk of change. Now,
he wants to share the wealth by offering agents an equity opportunity in his
second venture, A+ Conferencing LLC.

The equity program, which rolls out
this fall, makes available 30 percent of the company to agents who will receive
a distribution based on their year-to-date contribution at the time the company
is sold.

"If it sells for $20 million,
that’s $6 million in the pool for agents," says Burns. Those figures may
not be hypothetical, either, he says, noting that is in the ballpark of his sale
of Conference Pros International to Vialog Corp. (now Genesys Conferencing Inc.)
in 1999.

And, he says, $20 million is the
target sale price for A+ Conferencing. Based on a multiple of two to three times
gross revenue, Burns says the privately held company would be ready to entertain
an offer by January 2004. He says the company’s run rate is $5 million for this
year.

The preferred agent program is open
to agents that generate a minimum of $50,000 and make a commitment to sell
conference calling as one of their primary services. Preferred agents also must
sign an nondisclosure agreement, letter of intent and the preferred agent
contract.

Master agent Casey Jones, who sells
in Washington and Arizona, says he signed up to be an equity partner with A+
Conferencing after watching the successful sale of Conference Pros for which he
also was an agent.

Although many agents have become
disenchanted with equity offers based upon some future event that may not
happen, Jones says he is unconcerned about the indefinite timeline because he
still will earn commissions as if he were a regular agent.

Burns, however, says the likelihood
the company would not be sold is small; already, he says, he has fielded eight
offers in the 18 months A+ has been in business.

Jones also notes that, in the event
of a sale, it is possible the commission stream would continue beyond any
lump-sum payout. He says he still receives residuals for accounts he sold under
Conference Pros.

Burns says that besides Jones there
are a few other agents who have expressed interest in the program. A+
Conferencing also has 150 regular/master agents and 45 resellers. Uniquely,
agents are offered a low buy rate and can set their own retail price to gain
control over their margins.

BT to Offer Web Conferencing with
WebEx

BT Conferencing Inc., a division of
European telecommunications company British Telecommunications plc (BT), will
provide Web meeting services powered by the WebEx Communications Inc.
switch-based global network.

"Web meetings are quickly
becoming a standard part of business communications," says Robert Moore,
CEO of BT Confer- encing. "We are committed to offering state-of-the-art
audio and visual communications services, and teaming with WebEx is an integral
part of fulfilling this commitment."

WebEx’s network is designed
specifically for multimedia Web communications. It also supports multiple
languages within a single Web meeting.

"WebEx designed its
switch-based network to meet the rigorous communications demands of the world’s
telecommunications leaders," says Michael LeBlond, vice president of
telecom business at WebEx Communications. "BT Conferencing and WebEx have
created an offering for business users that delivers the best in audio, data and
video conferencing."

LeaderPhone Cuts Rates for
Web-enabled Conferencing

LeaderPhone Technologies Inc., a
pro-vider of Web-enabled conference calling service sold through direct and
affiliate sales reps, announced in September a price reduction to 12 cents per
minute, per leg, for high-volume users, with the basic rate dropping to 16
cents.

Previously, LeaderPhone was priced
as low as 16.8 cents per minute, per leg; 24 cents per minute for the base rate.

According to the company, it charges
neither setup fees nor cancellation fees, and the price includes all domestic
long-distance charges and taxes. In addition, LeaderPhone employs true
one-second billing rather than the common current practice of rounding up to the
nearest next minute. All controls accessed via the Internet at
www.leaderphone.com allow any authorized employee to set up conferences on the
fly without the need for operator assistance.

"Businesses that use
teleconferencing regularly can save 50 percent or more over current costs with
LeaderPhone," says chairman and CEO Michael McKibben

InterCall Upgrades Web
Conferencing Platform

InterCall launched two new Web
conferencing services — MeetingCenter and Mshow — to meet the demand for more
variety in virtual business meetings. Both services will be available through
the company’s resellers as well as its direct sales force.

"Businesses today are looking
for Web conferencing services that are tailored to specific types of meetings,
both large and small, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach," said
Raymond Britt, chief marketing officer for InterCall. "We are finding that
our customers are becoming more comfortable with conducting virtual meetings and
want to make each conference a truly productive and efficient event. Our new Web
conferencing platform gives our customers options to tailor their
conferences."

Launched Sept. 20 in partnership
with Webex Inc., MeetingCenter is an enhanced integration of Web, audio and
video content within a standard Web browser. The new service is designed for
smaller working sessions. Application sharing and desktop collaboration features
with remote control let geographically dispersed participants simultaneously
view and edit documents as a team.

The MeetingCenter platform allows
the host to incorporate real-time video conferencing into meetings via a Webcam.
The confidentiality of all meetings is secured with the support of SSL
encryption.

At the other end of the spectrum,
Mshow, which launched Oct. 4, is designed to orchestrate large-scale events such
as quarterly earning, investor calls, annual meetings, corporate announcements
and product launches. The Mshow platform features pre- and post-conference
surveys of participants, real-time polling during the meeting, application
sharing and the ability to incorporate point-to-point videoconferencing with
slide presentations. Mshow meetings are also secured through SSL encryption.

Genesys Conferencing Announces
Fast Start

Genesys Conferencing Inc. has
introduced a new implementation program, Fast Start, for accelerated roll out of
services to direct and agent clients.

Fast Start includes training as well
as point-and-click service delivery. Users sign up for services online, then
receive detailed instructions via e-mail explaining how to initiate and begin
using the service. Ongoing user education and tutorial programs are part of the
package.

The company says the program will
appeal to enterprises that have sudden, unexpected conferencing needs such as
large-scale briefings or last-minute remote meetings, when travel is not
feasible or advisable. Fast turn-up also is a plus in vendor migration projects,
to avoid rescheduling already planned remote conferencing sessions and events.

Fast Start is a response to the
increase in volume and demand for immediate service activation of its Meeting
Center platform, according to the company. Since February, Genesys has seen a
more than 200 percent global increase in the number Meeting Center seats sold,
while audio conferencing minutes have increased by 150 percent in the period
from June 2001 to June 2002.

Meeting Center was launched in
October 2001 as a collaboration platform that fully integrates audio and Web
conferencing through a single online user interface. New features available in
Genesys Meeting Center 2.0 include integration for desktop multipoint video,
Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft MSN Messenger.

LoudEye Rolls Out Reservationless
Web Conference for Telco Resellers

Capitalizing on its success in the
event-based online presentations business, Loudeye Corp. is now making its move
into the smaller size conferencing market with the introduction of Loudeye
Express, a Web conferencing service that it plans to sell exclusively through
telco resellers.

Marc Goodman, the company’s new
senior direct of channel marketing, joined Loudeye in September and will run the
new channel program as well as its existing resale program for its streaming
products.

Loudeye Express is designed to be
simple and affordable by featuring slides only — no application sharing or
whiteboarding, explains Colin Garvey, senior product manager. The service is
made possible by a 38K Java applet, which is considered a "nondownload"
since it disappears off the client when the conference ends. This is in contrast
to Webex, which is 1.1mb and Placeware at 2mb.

The service is simple to use,
requiring only seven steps to get the meeting up and running, in contrast to
Webex at 12 to 17 steps and Placeware at 18 to 44 steps. It requires the
presenter to go to the Web site, enter a password, upload the slide deck,
generate the e-mail participant invitations and start the meeting when they log
in.

Loudeye Express provides private
branding for the telco, says Garvey, who notes there is no "powered
by" logo which is required by most Web conferencing services. The service
currently is hosted by Loudeye on behalf of its resellers, but Garvey says the
company is developing an option for the telcos to host it themselves.

Branding costs $1,000. Wholesale
pricing for the service is $75 per presenter, per month. A presenter can hold an
unlimited number of meetings with up to 250 participants. Presenter licenses are
not transferable, but Loudeye is considering a multipresenter license that would
allow a company to purchase floating licenses. Garvey says the company is
recommending a $100 per presenter, per month retail price to its resellers. Some
potential partners have suggested that they would bundle Loudeye Express with
their reservationless audio services for an increased per-minute fee, he notes.
Others are considering adding it free as a way to bump up usage on the network.

According to its maker, Loudeye
Express can increase the length of an average audio conference by at least 10
minutes per participant. At 100,000 conferences, those 10 minutes (priced at 15
cents each) translates to $855,000.

Garvey says the product is in
prerelease and currently is able to support resellers that want a traditional
split wherein the telco handles all account setup, billing and first-line
customer services. By the end of the year, he says, Loudeye will be able to
handle account setup and billing on behalf of its resellers too.

Garvey claims to have at least three
reseller deals pending but declined to name the partners. The best response, he
says, is coming from companies that already are selling Web conferencing and are
looking for a "starter product" that is less expensive and less
complex than what they already have.

Loudeye Express features slides-only
Web conferencing.

 

TheLinks

A+ Conferencing RollsOut Agent Equity Program

A+ Conferencing LLC www.aplusconferencing.com

LeaderPhone Cuts Ratesfor Web-enabled Conferencing

Leaderphone TechnologiesInc. www.leaderphone.com

BT to Offer WebConferencing with WebEx

BritishTelecommunications plc www.bt.com

WebEx Communications Inc.www.Webex.com

eDial Debuts Audio/WebConferencing Appliance for Sale Through Channels

eDial Inc. www.edial.com

Frost & Sullivan www.frost.com

Westron Communications www.westron.com

BCS Signs U.S. ResaleAgreement with York Telecom

Broadband CollaborativeSolutions Inc. www.bcsglobal.com

York Telecom Corporation www.yorktel.com

InterCall Upgrades WebConferencing Platform

InterCall www.intercall.com

Mshow www.mshow.com

Webex www.Webex.com

Genesys ConferencingAnnounces Fast Start

Genesys Conferencing Inc.www.genesys.com

LoudEye Rolls OutReservationless Web Conference for Telco Resellers

Loudeye Corp. www.loudeye.com

Virgin Mobile Selects Metcalf GM for SMSMobileSpring Inc. www.mobilespring.com

Sprint Corp. www.sprint.com

Virgin Group www.virgin.com

Virgin Mobile USA LLC www.virginmobileusa.com

VeriSign www.verisign.com

Polycom Announces Unified ConferencingBridge, Partnerships

Insight Systems Inc. www.insightsystems.com

ON24 www.on24.com

Polycom Inc. www.polycom.com

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