This one is about RebTel raising 20 million bucks from VCs Index Ventures and Benchmark Capital. Jeff Pulver has been high on RebTel for a while, as has my pal Sanjay Jhawar at BridgePort Networks, who worked with the Rebtel founder at Sendit. Both have had only good things to say, and my brief meeting at VON reaffirmed their feelings.
But 20 million is a a lot of money for an idea that is very similar, if not almost identical to Mint Telecom, a service I've used for over a year.
What these two companies have in common is the approach of using VoIP's fat, low cost pipes to make a local call that dials around the high rates for International long distance charged by the mobile operators.
They both assign you a local number that points to the number you want to call to reach an internationally located friend. You dial the local number, the call is converted to VOIP and presto, the call then comes out of a local POP in one of the countries they serve and voila, the call is terminated for pennies per minute, versus the high International rates charged by the carriers and mobile operators.
Where they differ is the fact that Rebtel founder Hjalmar Winbladh has taken an idea before and run it up in value getting the $155 million from Microsoft back in 1999. Venture capitalists don't always bet on the best idea. They invest in the people who can see the ideas through.
The reference to Jajah in the B20 story is also timely, with the last line of this story revealing more than should be told if you read between the lines. Next week at Demo they are likely going to move into the Mobile space. Why? Well the September show was formally called Demo Mobile, so marketing plans would have been geared around that so connect the dots.