Today a story broke on News.com that Vonage's two investment banks have suggested a dual strategy to get sold. That likely means the initial round of chats with the hedge funds and institutional buyers are somewhat luke warm about the proposed $600 million dollar flotation that has been widely rumored. Yesterday Om had something too.
Let's see who isn't part of the likely suspects. SBC, Verizon. They are already hip deep in their own product offers and actually have more in the way of network assets than Vonage does. All Vonage has are customers, and those are according to chats this week with some competitors already jumping ship as soon as their contracts expire. Loyalty among early adopters is a wavering thought at best.
Next one has to think Bell South or Qwest. I could see Bell South licensing or building their own, they don't need Vonage, and beyond the customer base, in their own back yard, Bell South has never shown signs to be thinking beyond their current footprint. That leaves QWEST as the only remaining RBOC. While I think the chances are slim, the fit could be good. QWEST of the all the Baby Bells was the most Internet oriented in the late 90s and early years of the current decade. They have lots of smart IT folks and the ability to roll out new service offerings. Since the wanted and lost MCI, Vonage could be a good acquisition, but likely all of the current Vonage people would not be long term with them., Qwest knows how to market so aside from a handful of people, it wouldn't be that much of job saving move. Again that could be another reason why a buy would be attractive. But I'll hedge on that one.
Now comes the more interesting play. T-Mobile. The company has cash. Knows how to market. They have customers who are young and likely broadband centric. They have retail and independent sales forces. They know how to bill, collect, detect fraud and already have international termination. Of all the national wireless brands in the space they are the only one without a USA based landline offer (excluding the MVNO's).Beyond them, who knows. News Corp. is out there looking to buy a VoIP company, but I don't see how voice fits into their media strategy the Skype could have as a piped conduit.