Through three startups Craig Walker founded since 2001, he has been trying to banish the traditional phone and reinvent the way we communicate. Now Walker thinks all the pieces are finally in place for many more corporate enterprises to buy into his vision.
His company, San Francisco-based Dialpad Inc., offers a cloud-computing-based system that allows people in businesses to do nearly all their communications — voice, video, conference calls and messaging–on any device, with no need for equipment onsite, including desk phones. “It’s kind of crazy to have a phone on your desk,” he said in an interview.
Today, Dialpad is announcing a raft of new features that Walker (pictured above) hopes will appeal to a wider range of companies, which pay $15 to $29 a month per person to use the services. The company already has amassed some 25,000 customers, including 60 percent of the Fortune 500 and the likes of Motorola Solutions, which removed thousands of phones for some 6,000 employees, as well as Uber Technologies Inc., Hillary Clinton’s campaign and IBM’s The Weather Channel. Some 85 percent of Dialpad’s users have ditched their desk phones.
But the startup has not yet broken out into the public eye in a big way. Among the new features intended to help make that happen are a Dialpad app for Apple’s iPad, group messaging from any device, integration with Salesforce.com’s customer relationship management services, call blocking and spam filtering, voicemail transcription, and analytics for understanding communications patterns. It’s also expanding internationally, opening a Tokyo office and building two data centers in Japan.
If some of those features sound familiar to users of Google Voice and Hangouts, that’s no accident. Walker cofounded GrandCentral Communications in 2005, which Google acquired in 2007 and subsequently turned into Google Voice. Before that, he founded the voice-over-Internet Protocol startup Dialpad Communications Inc., which Yahoo Inc. bought in 2005 and turned into Yahoo Voice. In March, Walker bought the name back and renamed the startup he founded in 2011, Switch Communications, to Dialpad.
All along the way, the idea was the same. “The premise was to put users in charge of their communications without being tied to a location,” Walker said. “We always wanted to do this for enterprises.”
Not surprisingly, Dialpad has a strong relationship with Google, both an investor and a partner, as Dialpad runs on Google’s Cloud Platform and it’s integrated with Google Apps for Work. But the company also integrates with Microsoft Office 365 and some social applications such as LinkedIn and Twitter. It also has a partnership with Sprint Corp. to provide mobile communications services.
Lots of competition
Interestingly, Dialpad competes with Microsoft’s Skype for Business as well as Cisco Systems Inc.’s Spark, though the prime competitor is RingCentral Inc., a 13-year-old company that claims 350,000 business customers. Walker said Dialpad’s data centers around the world and its all-cloud system allow it to provide more enterprise-grade service.
“They’re on this new modern platform that allows them to be more flexible and scalable than some of the competition,” said Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst of COMMfusion LLC. “Workers are mobile today … so it’s important to be mobile-first and leverage that cloud model.”
Pleasant said that while Dialpad has been most used by customers of Google Apps for Work, it has expanded beyond that niche. One hole in the product portfolio, however, is the lack of a contact center, which Pleasant said would be appealing to mid-sized businesses.
Dialpad has raised $53 million since 2011 in several rounds from Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Amasia, Felicis Ventures, SoftBank and Work-Bench.
Walker spoke to theCube, owned by the same company as SiliconANGLE, in March at the Enterprise Connect conference about the company’s name change and plans:
Disclosure: TheCUBE was the media partner at the conference. Sponsors have no editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.
Photo from Dialpad