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Interview with Michael Robertson, SIPphone

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Interviews

My interview this morning is with Michael Robertson, founder of MP3.com, Linspire, and now a new startup, SIPphone (www.sipphone.com). I thought it would be interesting to conduct the interview via Michael's own software, so I called him up using the SIPphone software and a voice over IP connection to ask him a bit about the idea behind SIPphone, and what he has been up to lately. The call quality was great, and I also got his insights into what makes a good entrepreneur, and some great advice for startups.

Ben Kuo: For the readers who aren't familiar with SIPphone, tell us a little bit about the company?

Michael Robertson: Sure. SIPphone is now a couple of years old, and we recently closed a six million dollar financing round. What we're excited about is SIP is a strong analogy to MP3. What I mean by that is SIP is to voice over IP what MP3 was to digital music-an open standard, where everything works together in terms of hardware and software. It's not controlled by one company, and is a great thing to build an industry around. We started it about two years ago, and put SIP in the name to emphasize we're standards based. The way I think of our business is that we offer a dial tone service. Whether someone wants to use the Gizmo software or other piece of software, or a router or adapter or even a Wi-Fi phone, when you need to talk to someone it needs to connect to a directory. That directory can route their calls, take voicemail, they need a directory. We also make soft clients-but we didn't want to make a software client.

What happened is a couple of years ago along came Skype.

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