As some of you may know Alon Cohen, Phone.com’s Executive Vice President and Chief Evangelist was also the co-founder of the first Voice over IP company called VocalTec.
That company was involved in much of the early days of innovation in the VoIP space and spun-out perhaps two dozen or more companies and inspired the ideas for companies such as Skype and others (even ICQ – the first IM company which was acquired by AOL and evolved to AOL Messenger) ;
At ITEXPO (www.itexpo.com) the industry’s premiere conference taking place at the Miami Beach Convention Center last week) we celebrated 20 years of VoIP. A date that is based on the day VocalTec, (actually it was February 7 1995) launched its first commercial product: the “Internet Phone” or (I am not kidding) iPhone for short. I found this old photo and you can google for more. Below is a snapshot of what the Wall Street Journal published back then:
On-line : Hello, world. Audible chats on the Internet
Bulkeley, William M.. B, 1:6.
Source: Wall Street Journal. Feb 10, 1995. Section B, p. 1, col. 6.
Summary: VocalTec Inc, a small Israeli company, says it has developed software that allows two-way voice communications on the Internet at a fraction of telephone-company long-distance rates. As the company sees it, the software, called Internet Phone, has the potential to extend Internet use far beyond the province of the computer-savvy.
By the way, also in 1995:
- Amazon sold first book
- Ebay founded
- Google founders met
- Netscape went public as the first ever internet IPO (VocalTec was the 10th)
The founders of TMCNET the media corporation that puts on the ITEXPO conference and expo had a great panel discussion with several VoIP pioneers including Alon as well as the founder of Google Voice and of Vonage as well as the CEO of Digium that brought to market open source VoIP.
At the end of this keynote panel discussion Alon and Jeff Pulver (known among his many projects as the co-founder of Vonage but also an early investor in Twitter and the biggest evangelist of the VoIP industry) were inducted into a new VoIP Hall of Fame.
Part of the reason Alon was recognized is also because he continues to contribute to the industry and indeed Phone.com got nice recognition today as well.
This is what TMCNET CEO, Rich Tehrani said about Alon:
“Alon Cohen may not be a household name, not even in the telecom / VoIP world. However, he and his partner at the time, Lior Haramaty, are responsible for jumpstarting the Voice over IP industry when they co-founded VocalTec Communications in Israel, and in February 1995, introduced to the market the first commercial VoIP product: the Internet Phone.
VocalTec grew to become a known name in our industry and became somewhat of a “Xerox PARC” “think tank” for innovation with well over 2 dozen companies spinning out of it or founded by their employees. It has also become the catalyst for our own Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.
No one exemplifies this better than Alon. Since leaving VocalTec in the early 2000s after it went public, he has founded 4 more companies that all had a VoIP play.
Out of that original founding team, Alon is the only one still innovating in the space through his work at Phone.com, which probably makes him the longest serving innovator and proponent for our industry.
Alon has several patents in the VoIP space, and has influenced industry standards through his work at ETSI and the ITU. He also lectures about entrepreneurship, mentors and supports numerous startups, students and entrepreneurs. He is also one of the nicest people you will ever meet. For that we want to thank Alon.
We too would like to thank Alon for all his contributions to the industry and to the ongoing success of Phone.com.