My Lunch with Jangl
Every once in a while, I get to come out of my bunker in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy some someshine down in the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course, I have to come down for work but I can occasionally squeeze in a few other things, such as a lunch meeting with Tim Johnson and Michael Cerda at Jangl. We met at The Original Krungthai restaurant in Mountain View on Wednesday, which if you’re into Thai food, I highly recommend.
What is interesting is that the backend platform Michael and his team have created actually does about a dozen different things. To gain some traction, they have focused on a small subset of that functionality. Their initial functionality, relationship-based numbers, is a kind of privacy tool. One area they are making money with this today is in a deal with dating site match.com, where they are selling the ability to connect with a potential mate via telephone using a totally private telephone number. This is one situation where making and receiving calls from a totally foreign number is understandable and even accepted to some degree. In most other areas, though, dealing with something like a Jangl ID is a hassle.
One limit with the current Jangl system is that numbers are relationship based. Specifically, the numbers are tied between two telephone numbers. For example, I asked for a Jangl number for Tim Johnson from my mobile phone by sending a text message to Jangl. They sent me back a number. If I call that number from my mobile, I will reach him (and he can reach me from that same number). However, if someone else calls that same number (or I call from my landline), a “not in service” message will be heard.
The next logical step–and Michael and his team are working on this–is to assign a Jangl number that anyone can call. Think of it like a Jangl ID that exists today except that it’s a phone number. You end up getting much of the same call filtering and unified messaging that you get with, say, Grand Central or TalkPlus. Another cool thing: if you call someone else’s Jangl number from your number that is registered with Jangl, the Caller ID will be changed to show your own Jangl number instead. Slick. Not quite sure how you spoof your Caller ID otherwise. Hm… maybe use SMS to ask for a Jangl number to be assigned to that person. Will have to ask them about it if they don’t respond to this posting directly.
After that, and Michael tells me this will probably be a pay feature: Jangl groups. A Jangl number for a group of people. Call it, everyone’s hone rings. Instant conference call. If you send an SMS to that Jangl #, everyone in the group gets the SMS (yes, they plan on adding SMS ability for Jangl numbers, something I think is very important).
I’m sure there are other bits and pieces of the conversation that I am missing, but that’s the gist of it. I am a little bigger on Jangl after hearing their story and their plans. Of course, I suspect the competition isn’t standing still and the fight for the right to filter your calls will continue onward and upward.