We have been waiting for that one a long time, but it is finally here.
I have been mentioning in this blog WaveCell for quite some time now. Wave cell provides communications APIs: SMS, Voice, and push, as well as web APIs: video, audio, data (yes, using webRTC). Founded and lead by French Engineers who also graduated from the #1 MBA in the world (no, it’s not Harvard’s …), the Singaporean-based company has just received 1.6 Millions USD funding.
Already profitable, they did not really need the money per say, but this will allow them to grow faster.
The big Communication PaaS are already present in asia (Nexmo, Twilio) but they did not exert a strong push there yet in term of sales. For both nexmo and Twilio, the connection to the carriers came first in terms of technology, and the western markets matter(ed) more in terms of sales. Their capacity to deliver SMS and/or voice calls all over the world what was differentiate them in their original western market.
Just like grab-a-taxi, didi, and all the other asian taxi apps are rushing to achieve critical mass before Uber looks this way, the local PaaS need to grow FAST! After all, unlike applications or products, platform plays are winner-take-all games. As a VC told me one day, the strategy is different when you are before saturation (go west, claim land), and after saturation (defend your position and try to painfully extend). It would also be very difficult to go to USA and compete on a saturated market (even though companies like wimo/weemo/sightcall did that just fine). [*]
While WaveCell, already has an engineering presence in Singapore and Philippines (likely explained by the lack of talent in Singapore), they are now setting up sales presence in vietnam, indonesia, etc. The engineering presence in the philippine will also be ramp up, based on the existing employees, says the CEO. For those who follow my blog and read my previous war on talent posts, you know that those are the most important markets in SEA in terms of population, GDP, and growth.
Correspondingly, the local e27 website, which is the reference in term of start ups in Asia, and organize many conferences like echelon, list them as one of the 30 mind-blowing start up you should meet in all SE Asia! Another communication start up makes it to the list, nanu, also based in Singapore, also having an Eng. center in the philippines. Anybody seeing a pattern?
Good job WaveCell!
I guess local PaaS players have now a basis for comparison. 500 paying entreprise customers for their Platform offer, profitable => 1.6M funding. In a following post, I will explain how to retrieve financial and corporate information for companies registered in Singapore, France, and a few other countries to be able to conduct a reliable due diligence.
[*] I have publicly said in the past that I thought webRTC PaaS should be present in the US at all cost. I still stand by this statement.
However there is a difference between Communications PaaS (twilio, Nexmo, Wavecell), and webRTC PaaS (appear.in, tokbox, …..) in the sense that the later do not depend on any access to the physical telecommunication network.
The “PSTN Termination”, which is the process by which one goes from Ip-based communication like VoIP or webRTC, to a “standard” phone line, can only be done by a registered telecom operator. Those also have the monopoly on actual phone numbers. While some operators become virtual, especially for mobile (examples in malaysia with YTL communications), you still need to be registered as a telecom operator with the government to be able to do that in each and every country. Some UC company, including Citrix, are registered. Some PaaS, like twilio, partner with local telecom operators to enjoy the same benefits. In the case of the twilio – KDDI collaboration in Japan, KDDI is also the local reseller / representative for Twilio. In any case, the only way to be sure about the quality of your service is to have a direct connection with at least one carrier in each country, and then leverage this carrier interconnections. Next has been very active in that regard, creating Carrier Manager position all over the world.
By definition, the PSTN termination game is a local game, while the web is not. Growing a web-rtc (note the hyphen) platform as a service business, wether it is webrtc or hosted PBX, or mobile communication, can be done from anywhere, and you should go where the market is mature and the people buying. That is, today, USA.
As NTT (second biggest telecom operator in the world) pointed out yesterday at webrtc conference Japan, nobody is making money directly with webrtc platform today. If you are a Communication Platform as a Service, and you want to make a difference, once you have secures NA and Europe, whose telecom operators are well interconnected, you will have to go after each country one by one, and deal with local regulation and authority. Of course, you can use a pstn-termination broker, like tata communications, but then you would not control the QoS, which is one of the major differentiator today.
This work by Dr. Alexandre Gouaillard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This blog is not about any commercial product or company, even if some might be mentioned or be the object of a post in the context of their usage of the technology. Most of the opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not of any corporate or organizational affiliation.