Marc Andreessen joins board of cloud communications startup Dialpad


You probably haven’t heard of Dialpad Inc. Marc Andreessen intends to change that.

The well-known venture capitalist and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz today joined the board of Dialpad, a San Francisco-based startup that’s aiming to kill the traditional desk phone with its entirely cloud-based phone and communications system. Its founder and chief executive is Craig Walker, who started two previous Internet-based business communications companies that were bought by Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

“The company has very big potential and Craig has done a great job,” Andreessen said in an interview. “The market is monster and the competition is beatable.”

Andreessen, onetime cofounder of Netscape Communications Corp., said Dialpad fits into his belief that software is eating the world. “All of a sudden, all the on-premises equipment and hardware is obsolete,” he said. “Craig has built a complete replacement for all that.”

Dialpad 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, especially desk phones.

CEO Craig Walker copy

Dialpad CEO Craig Walker (Photo courtesy of Dialpad)

Walker cofounded GrandCentral Communications in 2005, which Google acquired in 2007 and 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 from Yahoo and renamed the startup he founded in 2011, Switch Communications, to Dialpad.

Andreessen’s appointment provides a potent signal of Dialpad’s ambitions. Andreessen serves on a raft of company boards, including Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co., eBay Inc., Facebook Inc. and a number of other companies. When Andreessen tweets, people listen (though he has been taking a break from Twitter since Sept. 24).

Andreessen Horowitz was the lead investor on Dialpad’s $15 million round raised in 2012, when Andreessen became an informal board advisor. Slingbox founder Blake Krikorian joined the board at that time. Krikorian died in August, though Andreessen said he had already planned to come onto the board.

“When he decided he wanted to be on the board, we jumped on it,” Walker said in an interview.

Dialpad competes with Microsoft Corp.’s Skype for Business and Cisco Systems Inc.’s Spark, but the biggest current competitor is RingCentral Inc., an 18-year-old company with 350,000 business customers. Walker claims Dialpad’s data centers around the world and its all-cloud system allow it to provide more enterprise-grade service. The company claims 25,000 customers, including Uber Inc., Nielsen Holdings PLC, Netflix Inc. and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Walker said Dialpad still has a “good chunk” of its last round in the bank but is talking about raising more funding.

Walker spoke in detail earlier this year on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s video unit, about Dialpad and its origins: