This Startup Wants To ‘Switch’ Your Work Phone



As the market for enterprise services becomes more mobile and more cloud-based, a new software app backed by Andreessen-Horowitz aims to capitalize on the trend.

The system, called “Switch,” is software that allows people to use their own cell phones—or any device—to make business calls.

The service is cloud based, and doesn’t use expensive traditional land lines. It costs just $15 per user per month, far less than Cisco or Avaya charge for their landline-based systems—and companies don’t have to buy expensive phones for their employees.

Perhaps the real selling point is the phone system’s full integration into Google Apps. It provides a contextual profile including recent Gmail messages, shared docs and upcoming calendar invites.

The service still offers the functionality of a traditional business voice mail, including directory phone-tree services like “for an operator, press 1, for a dial-by-name directory press 2.”

“A modern mobile worker is working 24 hours a day. They have a smartphone, they have a laptop. Wherever they are we want them to be as connected as possible,” said Craig Walker, who founded Switch Communications. “This is a very simple platform to give them all the communication features they want in a phone over the course of the day. It’s now built around you with a mobile phone in your pocket.”

In addition to pitching convenience, Walker is hoping that small businesses will see the cost savings they’ll get from Switch’s software-based model, rather than a Cisco or Avaya’s hardware-based model. Switch has raised $18 million from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures.

“The Google apps user base has been growing, signing up 5,000 users a day, but no one’s been creating products for them because Microsoft’s marketplace is much bigger. We look at that as a great opportunity to provide useful, consumer friendly products built around the modern worker,” Walker said.

Reprinted by Permission.

Image credit: Phil Roeder

About the author: Julia Boorstin

Julia Boorstin joined CNBC in May 2006 and covers media with a special focus on the intersection of media and technology. Before joining CNBC, Boorstin worked at Fortune magazine where she was a business writer and reporter since 2000, covering a wide range of stories on everything from media companies to retail to business trends.  She graduated with honors from Princeton University with a B.A. in history. She was also an editor of The Daily Princetonian.

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