TalkingHeadz Podcast with Darren Schreiber of 2600Hz

by Dave Michels

It was independent service providers that largely created the hosted voice and UCaaS sector. Go back to the early Magic Quadrants and the reports were dominated by the independent providers that used products like KAZOO, BroadWorks, MetaSwitch, and Genband to create their own branded offerings. In the next wave, the wholesale providers got squeezed by providers that own-and-control their own tech stacks such as 8×8, Fuze, and RingCentral. Gartner even changed its Magic Quadrant rules to require that providers own-and-control their stacks. But wholesale solutions never went away, and in fact are on the rise again.

Providers want to avoid commoditization, and that’s exactly what happens when every provider offers indistinguishable services. The ability to create differentiated solutions is just one trend that is benefitting 2600Hz, another is the convergence of UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS. 2600Hz offers its customers exceptional versatility to not only differentiate their offers from other services, but to differentiate offers across their customer base as well. Darren takes us through the history of 2600Hz and sets a stage that’s compelling. So compelleing that immediately after the podcast, Evan registered

This is a rare chance to get to know this international man of mystery. You won’t find him on Twitter and there’s no photo  on LinkedIn. However, the guy does like voice, so opened up on our audio-only podcast and even reminisced about his days in radio.

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Evan Kirstel 0:12
And today we have with us Deron Schreiber, the co founder of 2600 hertz. We’ll learn all about Darren and 2600 hertz. But before that, Dave, do you have your ticket to space booked already?

Dave Michels 0:25
You know, I’m so excited about this. I haven’t booked a ticket yet. I’m waiting for Mr. Bezos to call and say that I want some random lottery that I get to go into space and back. But actually, to be honest, even if I did when I’m not sure I would accept it. Do you want to do this? would you do this? If you were offered a trip?

Evan Kirstel 0:45
Absolutely. I already have a two for one coupon. So me and you are going

Dave Michels 0:50
on already? What’s going on? How do you get a coupon?

Evan Kirstel 0:53
We’re going into space. There may be a slight issue with weight limit in the capsule. But I will we’ll check into that. But otherwise, yes, we’re going to

Dave Michels 1:02
explain, explain elaborate.

Evan Kirstel 1:04
Well, it was a contest. I want a two for one coupon for Virgin Galactic. So not the Jeff Bezos space vehicle, but the other vehicle from Richard Branson. And I’m allowed to bring a guest. So you and I are going into space.

Dave Michels 1:20
That’s great. I’ve actually would not go into space because Branson doesn’t go to space. I’d be excited if it was a beezus thing to be honest, but it’d be good to go really high.

Evan Kirstel 1:30
You can’t satisfied. All right, I’m bringing another friend. Maybe I’ll invite Darren, maybe he’ll want to go with me. Let’s get to the show.

god 1:37
All right. Talking. It is a semi monthly podcast with interviews of the top movers and shakers in enterprise communications and collaboration, your host, Dave Michaels, and Evan crystal, both of which offer extraordinary services including research, analysis, and social media marketing. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or at talking That’s points with a Z and Devin curse That’s kr STL.

Evan Kirstel 2:07
And on today’s Talking Heads, we have with us Darren Schreiber, the co founder of 2600 hertz. Welcome, Darren.

Darren Shreiber 2:14
Thanks. Thank you guys for having me. I really appreciate it.

Evan Kirstel 2:16
We’re delighted to have you here really keen to learn more about you and and the business. But before we dive into that, I was noticing on your LinkedIn profile, you were a DJ and chief engineer at your student radio station. Oh my God, that’s a long time ago, the amazing RPI. So is that where your obsession with frequencies came from?

Darren Shreiber 2:39
Now the frequency is definitely more blue boxing and manipulating phone’s switches back in the day. But I will say that w RPI was quite the trip for an experience. I haven’t talked about that in ages. My god, I can’t believe you dug that up. It was fun. You know, it’s a powerful radio station out there, she said was 10,000 watts. I mean, it reached three states. And we’re always surprised, you know, it’s kind of weird doing a radio DJ, you’re playing a nobody effectively, right? You don’t know who you’re playing for? So you’re kind of in this area where you don’t know who’s listening.

Evan Kirstel 3:09
That’s kind of like our podcast here.

Darren Shreiber 3:11
Yes, that’s right. And then you’ll randomly hear from people that they were listening the whole time for hours on end. And it’s kind of fun.

Dave Michels 3:16
Well, Evan, kind of give away the lead there with the frequency reference, because I think some people will be have been thinking that 2600 hertz was a carbonyl thing or something. But why don’t you tell us a little bit about why 2600 hertz, what that name means?

Darren Shreiber 3:30
Sure. So 2600 hertz, we named a company that kind of on a play on an old school, really a hacking technique that people used to use to manipulate telephone company phones, switches. So the long story short, that frequency is how a phone company would tell another phone company that a call had ended. And you could trick the phone companies to such that the local phone company would know you were still on the phone, and would think your call to a destination was still up. But the remote phone company who was part of the call, thought you hung up and would accept signaling for the next call. So what it really allowed you to do is call like an 800 number, let’s say in your local area, and your local phone company would think you’re talking to a call for free, you know, maybe you’re calling United Airlines or something. And the remote phone company thought you hung up and then you could call Israel or you could call the White House, you can call wherever you want it by sending the right signals. And the 26 hertz tone was the way to initiate that process. The reason we named the company after it is not only was it kind of pushing the envelope risque is a name for people who recognize it. But our software really is a next generation phone switching system, right? It’s used to manipulate phone calls on the internet. So it actually is both relevant and for those who know the history, a little bit of music gets a chuckle out of some of the old timers.

Dave Michels 4:46
So I read in the Steve Jobs book that he and was used to sell those blue boxes. You already just mentioned the blue boxes. So I guess even Steve, I have a lot in common.

Darren Shreiber 4:56
Yeah, well I don’t put myself in his But that said, yeah, we actually joked with Steve Wozniak, I’m sure he doesn’t remember. But he spoke at a tech conference once I met him afterward, briefly. There’s actually pictures of them, supposedly, of the device they made floating around on the Internet of Steve Wozniak using one and which device it was. So yeah, they definitely were playing around with it. Also, it was kind of made famous by john Draper, theoretically, nicknamed the captain crunch, he was able to supposedly use 2600 stone from a toy that was in a crackerjack box, and be able to basically make initiate free phone calls that way, instead of building a blue box, which I mean, I don’t know how real that rumor is. But it’s kind of the the story so to speak, the tale, some of the history on the blue boxing, love it,

Evan Kirstel 5:48
love all the nostalgia, and yeah, and historical references.

Darren Shreiber 5:52
Well, and behind the scenes in our software, we also try and name all of our projects after some of that stuff. So we have originally the project was codenamed whistle. And we also have other sort of references in there like crossbar and some other telephone switching stuff. All the software on the back end is named after

Evan Kirstel 6:08
Dave knows them all. And is it is 2600 a historical reference? Where did it have any utility or use in today’s telecom networks? Still?

Darren Shreiber 6:17
Oh, Lord, I can’t imagine any. I mean, maybe in some foreign countries, they’re still in band signaling to allow calls between switches. But most of that stuff is now what’s called out of band signaling so

Dave Michels 6:28
So you build a completely obsolete company?

Darren Shreiber 6:31
Yeah, sure. We sure did. Well, I mean, it was at least slightly relevant 10 years ago when we started, but yeah, it was it was more a nod to history than it is futuristic. I don’t think anyone is still using switches that would allow this.

Dave Michels 6:43
So now that we have this name established, what does 2600 hertz actually do, as in the company you created, not the frequently? Yeah,

Darren Shreiber 6:52
so the company was originally with the idea of what we would call a telco in a box, it was supposed to be a telephone company you can install that contained all of the software you would need in order to run not just the switching or being able to make and receive phone calls from desk phones or from web based phones, but also the ability to build those calls the ability to provide features like voicemail, or faxing, or even some light collaboration, we had done video calling pretty early on. And basically, the idea was to empower small or medium businesses to run effectively small or medium sized phone companies. That was the vision as sort of technology was shifting where people were installing desk phones that would sit on their desk PBX is your small phone switches were becoming obsolete. But also there were a bunch of companies popping up who were trying to resell phone service to a smaller medium sized user base. And that’s really what we were trying to get into. We saw kind of a gap between Do It Yourself projects like Asterix or free switch and high end projects like broadsoft, broad works for meta switch, and there was really nothing in the middle. So we were trying to fill that gap interesting. So flash forward to today does 2200 hertz sell to enterprises, service providers, resellers or all the above? So primarily, we sell the service providers and resellers, our bread and butter has historically been resellers. To be honest, some of those resellers have grown. And some of them had been in countries we weren’t expecting, we gave the software away for free initially expecting to generate income to support the project off support services. And when we did that, we ended up with clients and all sorts of places we kind of didn’t expect, some of our largest clients today are in New Zealand and in Ireland, and in Europe, just somewhere we have never spent a penny of marketing in and they just kind of found us. And some of those companies started really trying to replace things like residential phone lines or simple services. And as they sort of realized that they were able to do a lot more with the software, they’ve expanded into other markets. In fact, kind of one of the problems we faced as a as a company is a lot of those guys have called us the best kept secret and Telecom. Because when they realized how much stuff the software could do, they didn’t want their competitors to find out they were using us. So those guys have really flourished in terms of providing the services. And today, it’s pretty common to find an installation that is 50 to 100,000 seats in size, which is much larger than we were originally targeting.

Dave Michels 9:21
So when you talk about selling the service providers, I guess that’s a that’s a form of wholesale services. And I want to talk to you a little little bit about wholesale because started really big. I think a lot of companies were a lot of providers were using asterisk, and then we kind of moved toward broadsoft or prod works and other purchase platforms that people have service providers could purchase. But all of a sudden, wholesales became popular again, I saw news from crescenzo there’s you guys there’s whatever Cisco is now calling broad works. There’s Alianza. So they’re all described themselves as wholesale. But I don’t think they all agree on what that term means. Can you kind of clarify that

Darren Shreiber 10:00
That’s a good point, I would argue that all sales very blurry. In fact, a lot of websites have been slapping the word wholesale onto their marketing. And it has sort of become synonymous with inexpensive or an attempt to try and pretend you’re an expensive part of that is because some of these larger wholesale providers, let’s look at a company like bandwidth. They used to sell to people who you needed a $5,000 deposit just to get started, right, they’re not going to talk to a small guy. And as their technology has evolved, the ability for their sales reps and even customers to self sign up, or sell to smaller companies and not have a huge labor overhead or burden has increased. So those kind of wholesalers have gone down market to some degree, as well as up market in some cases, but started tapping. Now folks who typically could not do wholesale services, they couldn’t afford them in the past. So you’re right, the term wholesale is coming up a lot more. But its meaning is also I think, being changed or hijacked a little bit, in some cases, to either meaning inexpensive rates or just to be marketing sly, to me true wholesale is that you really are running all the pieces of the stack or a large portion of them. And you have some sort of physical footprint or you have some sort of license or you have something that is requires us some more significant investment, that you’re then divvying up by reselling pieces of, but I don’t know that there’s a strict definition of wholesale at this point, I will say that the term wholesale probably is also coming up more because the technology is getting more complicated. And people expect communication service to now have not just phone service, but video collaboration, chat, text messaging. And so as you’re getting folks who are coming into the market, who demand all of those things as a package, little providers sell pieces of that, and they’ll sell at wholesale so that somebody else can package them together and sell them as a full on product. And I think that’s where the resurgence of whole sales coming from is providers that market directly to the end user expected to deliver everything in one package. So they’re going out and looking for wholesale services that come bundled together that they’re then selling.

Evan Kirstel 11:58
Got it. But why would a service provider want to sell a wholesale service? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to sell teams or some other packaged application?

Darren Shreiber 12:08
Yes or no? So and that is a very loaded question.

Dave Michels 12:13
Urban’s always loaded, I try to get him to stop, but

Evan Kirstel 12:16
I’m actually loaded with my own cryptocurrency, which is, yeah.

Darren Shreiber 12:20
Which is another way that you can sometimes pay for wholesale services these days. Anyway, to answer your question, I think some of them are scared of losing control or losing revenue source. So they are jumping onto the bandwagon to resell things like teams that are already packaged, mark it up a little bit, provides an installation services. And they’re sort of trying to figure out how to add value on top of that. Others of them see it as an additional revenue stream. So if they can bundle together those wholesale items, and the total cost of the account goes up. So sure, they might now be selling a $3 phone service or a $6 phone service instead of a $19 phone service they used to sell before, but they add in conferencing, they add in collaboration, they add in a mobile app, and they add in some sort of chat services or an autoresponder for chat, those items become seen as sort of something that customer now doesn’t, it actually makes them sticky. So the customer doesn’t want to give up any one of those services. So they’re unlikely to switch to another provider who doesn’t offer all of those same services again. And the other thing that’s kind of hidden in all this, which is kind of what we backed our company’s strategy on long ago, is I don’t think that the typical IT guy at most companies wants to actually deal with all these things. And so the more of them there are, the more complicated their job becomes. So a big value add so that many of these smaller service providers can keep the revenue stream and even grow it is the programming of the services, the upgrading of the services and equipment, and also the maintenance of the services and the problem solving for them. You’re not going to find big providers who you’re going to be able to get on the phone who are going to help you sort of step through how to make a custom auto responder for SMS or how to debug your bad call quality for a video chat. Most of them either works, and you never have to call them which is a great way to get the price driven down, which is something that teams in Google invest heavily in. Or if it requires any sort of customization, they often want to outsource that to another person. So you have some people who are just scared and then you have other people who see it as an opportunity to add value for all the customizations that these clients require. And if they can bundle them all together, the client becomes sticky. Even if it’s just one service they really like they’ll keep all the other ones as well because they don’t want to switch. And I think that that’s a good strategy.

Dave Michels 14:28
Your primary product is kazoo. Yeah, I guess that’s a muscle related name. Yep. Now, is that your only product or do you have other products besides kazoo?

Darren Shreiber 14:38
So kazoo really generally refers to the soft switch component or the back end that connects the phone calls or the video calls. We do have ancillary products that we layer on top of kazoo you have to have kazoo to use them. So I would call it a required base platform. And then on top of it, you can overlay a call center product, you can overlay a mobile app, you can overlay video call It’s mean, you can overlay audio conferencing services, we’ve just rolled out SMS and chat related services. You can even overlay business intelligence services that will tie into things like slack or time to there’s a service called Zapier, which will allow you to sort of visually program interactive responses to things that are happening in your communication system, you can tie in CRM. So those are all products, you can add on top. But they do require that base because the platform, so basically, you install the base platform, and then you put in all these modules for these add on apps, we call them and kind of functions closer to like an app store. I know a lot of companies have sort of been trying to build their own little app stores for a while that includes us. And we now have like 40, or 50 of these little app add ons that you can put on top of kazoo, and they’ll they’ll offer those different features. Does that make sense? It does.

Evan Kirstel 15:51
It sounds like a pretty easy, straightforward business, to say dialtone. It’s kind of like Dave Michaels really hasn’t changed much in 50 years. But does kazoo ever change? Well, I mean, like what’s in the latest upcoming releases? For example?

Darren Shreiber 16:05
Yes. So we have a whole bunch of fundamental changes to the plumbing that are probably less exciting to talk about to the public. But they add to stability and performance dramatically with kind of, as we’ve hit the sort of 100,000 sort of handset threshold, people are now saying, Well, what happens when I get to 200,000? Right, so we’ve sort of had to answer that call and do a lot of optimization behind the scenes. But in addition, we’ve done a lot of work to support WebRTC, done a lot of work to support push notifications to the phone and the handset. So that’s kind of plumbing under the behind the scenes. And then we’ve introduced some video components, we actually didn’t like some of the video we introduced. So we’re retooling some pieces of that. But all of those things are being rolled into a new framework, that we call them really a framework for micro services. And what it’ll let you do is we basically switched a lot of the technology we’re using to work on a react or React Native platform. And within that, developers can submit sort of mini apps into that framework in a variety of different programming languages that they might be using. And those programming languages will be once they’re more familiar with, but they’ll be able to access everything from basic dial tone, right through to some of those voice and video web services without having to know how they work. That’s a pretty big change. For us. We’ve always talked about having API’s on kazoo, but those were basically external systems connecting into kazoo, this is more your app actually lives as part of a framework we’ve already provided. And what that means is you only have to do like 20% of the work to be able to ship a working app that has those other functionalities for communications built in. So folks who would want to make their own mobile app or make their own desktop app, but don’t want to build the full phone system, but want some of those capabilities built in, they’ll be able to do that through sort of the microservices framework that we’re providing. So that’s a huge change. For us. It’s much more developer centric than we’ve ever been before. We’ve always talked about being developer friendly through the API’s. But we’ve got most of our users frankly, have used a lot of what’s out of the box. This is a push to expose a lot of those capabilities even more to encourage more programming, and more integration behind the scenes.

Dave Michels 18:12
Well, that’s a lot of stuff you just covered there. We’re gonna come back to some of those topics. But Okay, sounds like it’s all software. I didn’t hear any hardware come up in your description there. What about hosting? Are you hosting the product? Or do you make it optimized to be hosted? Or? Or is that just somebody else’s problem?

Darren Shreiber 18:27
That’s a great question. Hosting is one of the only places that we dabble in hardware. In fact, we actually produced some of our own 3d printed enclosures and equipment that went into our data center, we’ve done a lot of custom hardware that we’ve put in to optimize both space power and cooling. And also, we’ve done a lot of work behind networking, so that we use basically software defined networking, that allows us to have VLANs and private networks per customer, and allows us to bring in our own MPLS private connections to other customers who don’t want their traffic hitting the internet. So like banks, and HIPAA compliance and some security related applications, we can actually run people’s entire communication system. And even though it’s not living in their office, none of it has to touch the internet. We’ve had direct tie ins to sprint when they were around. And we’re sort of re establishing some of that stuff with a new provider, so that we could even carry your mobile traffic without it hitting the internet, it would be virtual from your cell phone’s handset all the way to our servers. So that we definitely have done a ton of investment in. And I think we did it initially because it was actually cheaper for us to have full servers than to rent them on Amazon. And contrary to popular belief we used to host on Rackspace, and Amazon, and our bills are actually much higher than if we took rack servers and stuck them in a rack ourselves and put networking in. That really is only true once you have 100 200 300 servers. So I think that’s why most people gravitate to Amazon or Rackspace, they only have maybe 10 or 15 servers and then the cost economics are definitely better when you host to someone else, but we needed the call quality to be good and it’s impossible to debug RTP streams or audio and videos means when you don’t own the full network. So by putting in our own data center, initially, we were able to provide better quality of service. And now looking back, we’ve gotten the benefit that we also can manipulate the networks in ways that you can’t really do if you don’t own the full network stack from some of these providers, or it’s cost prohibitive. So if you actually were to go get 300 dedicated servers from Amazon, your costs are way higher than what we’re paying in our data centers. So we do provide the hardware to customers for hosting and for networking, and private connections if they want them. Does that answer that question? It does,

Evan Kirstel 20:34
it does that. I’m curious, how do you decide what features go into 2600 hertz? Is it more likely? You say yes, let’s add it or no way? No,

Darren Shreiber 20:43
thank you. That’s a good question. So we have three tracks on how we decide what to build. The first is like most companies, we look at the industry and see what it’s doing and what we think the future holds. And try to be a little bit ahead of the curve before customers start asking you for things and hopefully get a head start on building new features that we think are going to become standard. So we’ll look at press announcements.

Dave Michels 21:04
So we’ve covered the name, the product name and all this stuff. But we haven’t really figured out what you’re actually doing it are you doing seap, as you can see Kaz or some other as.

Darren Shreiber 21:15
So we actually have all three divisions, and we are formally retooling our website to reflect that we’ve always done all three. In fact, we were kind of doing them before they had names. So we were really a UK as a service, first and foremost, but happens to have a ton of API’s. And this was like before Twilio even launched and C pass was a term, when Twilio kind of made c passie sort of known concept to almost everybody, we didn’t have necessarily a site dedicated to it. So people got a little confused as to what we offered. And so we’ve decided to actually break that out and create a full seat pass department who manages just the seat pass offering, so that there’s clarity in that so that the marketing is clear. And then people understand that the product can do all those features. And we do the same for C cast with call center. So we have a full call center, back end product and offering. And we are actually developing resources around that so that it’s clear that those things are available as well. So you’ll be able to come in and pick which one you want to sign up for. Does that make sense? Well, it

Evan Kirstel 22:15
makes sense today. But I’m I’m a little confused. I’m not sure where I am. So I get all my enterprise news from Dave Michaels on talking points. But I thought this was a trend towards the future. But is this something that we’ve seen in the past this combination of seapass and eucast, and cc gazzard? One?

Darren Shreiber 22:33
That’s an interesting way to put that. So other than zoom, I don’t actually know of any providers who have all three in one company in one platform. So the difference that we had and have had since day one is that all three of those were in our product from the get go. It’s just that they didn’t have fancy names with them. I see. So you need more fancy names is basically apparently what we’re saying. or five letter acronyms. Lord, please No. But if you look at for example, toy, you can’t go get a phone service for that, right. You can’t get your Polycom provision done Twilio easily get an offer voicemail to you have to go premium your own voicemail system if you want one. And with their flex product, they’ve been sort of bridging some of that stuff so that it acts a little closer to a system that you can just drag and drop elements to. But remember that that came afterwards we had that thing day one, right? We had all those things built in. If you look at zoom, I mean, they just bought five nines, right, they obviously are looking to get into the context of their market, they’ll have a strong context center call center offering today, you look at ringcentral, they were even outsourcing their contact center to in contact for a while. So again, it was kind of missing the C CAS piece, and they don’t really have some past play. That’s of significance on the ringcentral side. So if you looked at our company, and you’re like, What is this, the reality is it’s imagine that you can get your ringcentral, your Twilio, and some of your zoom related type conferencing services from one platform. And then as the sort of whipped cream and cherry on top there, the base of the platform is still free, right? It’s open source. So if you want to try it out, or you want to use it as a resale service and sell to others, you can do that with very low capex and very low risk. So that’s that’s a pretty unique offering even still today that you can do all that in one platform. And the cost to get started is really, really minimal. Awesome. I love the banana split analogy, I

Dave Michels 24:14
completely understand. Get into tangible food. So you mentioned sprint a little while ago, I haven’t I just had john saw from now from T Mobile, but he was a sprint guy on a podcast. I missed sprint, by the way, I think sprint was important, was important where it was but anyway, what’s the future? Does it have wireless? Are you planning a mission to space or what? What’s next?

Darren Shreiber 24:37
So as I speak with you over my starlink connection? The answer to that is I don’t want to reveal all our cards on the mobile side. But we ended up in a very interesting position because we were a sprint NVMe and NVMe Oh, effectively. So we actually are registered still as an MBO. And we’ve been able to retain some of the legacy pricing and legacy services that sprint offered as part of the government’s approval of the sprint T Mobile merger. So some of the things we can actually do on the t mobile network are somewhat unusual and are cheap for us. We took the product offering down temporarily to retool it because of that merger. And we will have some announcements pretty soon that I think will make that experience really good in terms of adding mobile services to your communications toolbox for a small medium business. What’s really interesting is we ended up accidentally, we were already a T Mobile reseller, when the sprint T Mobile merger happened. So we’ve ended up in a unique position where we can offer t mobile’s retail offerings at a discount because of the reseller program. And we can offer t mobile’s back end services at a wholesale level, because we’re at T Mobile mtnl. So I know that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people. But what it really means is that there are very few things that anyone can do both in the enterprise, the small, medium business and the reseller level on T Mobile that we can’t do via one of those two agreements. So that is pretty unique. And we’re looking to utilize that here in the near future.

Evan Kirstel 26:04
Wow. sounds super interesting. So if I’m a young person listening to this podcast, and I want to be daring When I grow up, what kind of skills would I need besides DJ and chief engineer at your college radio station?

Darren Shreiber 26:18
What else should I invest in personally and professionally? So that’s a funny question. One of the most probably useful trainings I’ve ever gotten in my life, which has carried me through all the way through till today was my networking skills. I took a course in college that was Cisco CCNA, and Cisco bsci course. It’s called Building scalable internet works, something like that I forgot what the bsci was, is basically BGP networking, which is a technology that most people ignore on the internet. That’s incredibly, incredibly important. It has everything to do with routing and redundancy. And nobody seems to know how it works. And then also just basic ipv4 and ipv6 routing and networking skills. And those two things combined with a love of real time media, which is totally different than web technology, but also very similar, ironically. So when I say totally different, I mean, like, in a web browser, if you have to reload a page, once, nobody’s ever going to file a ticket for that, I mean, audio and video, that’s just death, right? So you can’t have things just disappearing or crashing in the middle. So the concepts of how those things may operate, the transport mechanisms may be similar, but their uses are very different. So if you can basically get familiar with how RTP works, and also get really good at networking, those two things you’re going to, you’re going to fly in this industry, if you can figure those things out. And they’re not simple. And there’s very limited literature on them to be honest, because a lot of it is either so new or so cryptic that most people are not going to write a book about it and don’t have the time to do so. But if you can learn those skills, I think it’s hugely valuable in this industry.

Dave Michels 27:49
Sounds like a catch 22 though the route to success is routing? I don’t know.

Evan Kirstel 27:54
I was kind of disappointed Darrin with your answer, because I thought you meant social media networking, and I was kind of excited that social media is the future

Dave Michels 28:03
that may rot your brain a little bit more than attack definitely Rochus brain. Definitely. So there and you mentioned earlier that you had some international clients, it sounds like that was almost accidental. Is that? Is that an area you want to expand?

Darren Shreiber 28:16
it? Absolutely, yes, we are currently working on regulatory approvals for going into Europe. And we hope to also announce more on that front. But we already offer our software services there. And we are finding a ton of traction there. Surprisingly, Europe is caught. I don’t want to say behind the times on void, but it kind of seems like they are some of the regulatory stuff. I feel like it’s a it’s a head because it’s smarter than what we do in the US, which is a little bit wild west. But on the flip side, it leads to a lot more hurdles, they have to get over to launch a service. And so I think it’s slow adoption. And also some of their infrastructure like we complain about DSL here, boys, some of the infrastructure out in Europe and some of these rural communities is really rough when it comes to broadband. So they have some challenges there. And the adoption has been slow. And the number of competitors has been limited. And so the price points haven’t dropped like they have in the US in the US, you know, wholesale minutes these days are fractions of fractions of pennies. And that’s not necessarily the case was some of the mobile services and other services out in Europe, there’s still a lot of monopolies there and there’s a lot of regulation and red tape to be able to offer services there. So our hope is to actually help navigate some of that for people and be able to crack that market open a little bit more. So we are definitely very interested in focused in those markets.

Evan Kirstel 29:29
Awesome. Well, because you don’t really understand telecom and networking and cloud and everything else. And because you’re very technical, do you find yourself intolerant of bad telecom services, especially during the pandemic, as we’re all sort of locked at home more often than not?

Darren Shreiber 29:46
So interestingly, I’ve been very actually impressed with how are very duct taped together phone network has survived over the pandemic, if people were I don’t think a lot of people were following this but the first few months, they were actually a lot of busy signals on the network. Girl circuits busy issues because people weren’t actually ramped up for the increase in capacity when suddenly everyone was at home doing a morning kickoff call at 9am with their entire company, that behavior was very unusual. On the phone network. It definitely saturated some of the older links anyway, in the lower capacity links for some of the areas in this country, but also people adapted extremely quickly. I was really impressed with that. As much as I do often rag on the legacy features of some of our phone network technologies. I think that was a good test. So I think we did okay, it was a change. I don’t know that I would call myself intolerant. I think some of its humorous. Some of the ways people get around the issues is often entertaining. And I think it’s also part of learning. So I kind of take it in stride.

Dave Michels 30:44
That’s good. That’s healthy.

Darren Shreiber 30:46
I don’t know if people remember in Hurricane Sandy, when Verizon major switching hub down in New York City was flooded. And so you know, they got creative there. You could drive by and see large fiber optic cables running out the window from the second story into the street. Okay. Well, I can’t but they made it work. So see, Dave,

Evan Kirstel 31:04
it’s about taking things in stride and not complaining. So well. He didn’t. He did mention duct tape in there, too. So

Darren Shreiber 31:09
lots of duct tape. There’s a surprising amount of debt. Yeah, as I peel back the onion on Telecom, I’m a little shocked at how much tech debt there is. But it seems to hold hold together. Okay.

Dave Michels 31:20
You’ve already stole my thunder on on duct tape. But let me just do a quick buzzword compliance test with you. I’m going to throw out some words. And you either say yes or no, depending on whether you support them or not. Here we go. First one cloud. That’s easy. As a buzzword. Yeah, you should support cloud. That’s that’s a that’s a as a service. So not all cloud services are built as a service as a user.

Darren Shreiber 31:42
Can I hate the word? I just don’t like the word. It’s so used. abused. I have a T shirt somewhere that says cloud is really a computer in somebody else’s closet.

Dave Michels 31:51
Sounds like you’re compliant on C pads. Yes. Sounds like you’re compliant on UCAS. Yep. Sounds like you’re compliant on C pass. Yes. Okay, here’s a tougher one hasn’t come up yet. AI.

Darren Shreiber 32:06
Admittedly, need to learn more for myself, I would be compliant. I think it’s intriguing if we can get it to work in ways that are useful. So I’m going to go with Yes. on that one.

Dave Michels 32:13
Okay. I don’t know if you get to say yes, if it’s just interested in but okay. Well, we’ll go ahead and stop that for now. I think you mentioned this earlier. microservices. Yes. Big. Yes. Since day one. Yes. Capital. Yes. Okay. Last one here. We haven’t talked about at all about how about app store?

Darren Shreiber 32:29
Yes, absolutely. Mike’s there’s an app store for us go hand in hand, and always have. What’s that low

Evan Kirstel 32:34
Earth orbit?

Dave Michels 32:35
So wait, wait, wait. Well, you got to clarify that. micro services are an architecture App Store is where you buy applications. What do these have to do with each other.

Darren Shreiber 32:43
So in our world, the app store that we built allows you to utilize the microservices architecture we also built right, so you put your apps in, and they become a micro service and part of the ecosystem that we have, right. So the framework that we provide allows you to load micro services into the platform. And then customers can basically buy and utilize those services via apps in the app store. Does that make sense? Yep, absolutely.

Evan Kirstel 33:09
So what do you do as a co founder of 2600 hertz. And kazoo on a daily day or a typical day,

Darren Shreiber 33:16
I monitor lots of customer feedback. That has always been something that I probably do too much. But I don’t think there is a too much. I think it’s critically important to keep a thumb on the pulse of what customers are really asking and end users are asking, we spend a lot of time in architecture and user experience meetings, user experience continues to be one of, in my opinion, the weakest places for Telecom, because using desk phones, and using mobile apps to communicate sometimes really painful. I think teams has come around and zoom has done a great job making those apps so that my mother and my father can figure out how to use them, right. So that’s a big testament to progress. But if I hand in, my dad still can’t figure out his cell phone. So it’s like, okay, we’re not quite there. So when it comes to business communication services, a lot of the services are still back in the old TTY days where you had a terminal, you entered weird, cryptic codes to get a phone to provision. And we really need to figure out how to get past that the whole industry should be plug and play, things should work really well together. And a layman should be able to understand how to use it. That’s a tremendous amount of my time goes into trying to make sure that the engineers don’t get too excited with technical solutions aren’t easy and aren’t friendly. And so that takes a lot of product design effort. And then I spent on looking at the market to see what other folks are doing. But also there’s opportunities to use the technology we built that people don’t realize that we have so that’s pretty much my day.

Evan Kirstel 34:41
Awesome. This has been really fascinating. I really didn’t know companies like 2600 hertz even existed To be frank or that Captain Crunch ever made whistles which I’m going to investigate just after this podcast. But how do you describe what you do to your mom or dad or maybe other non tech Family members,

Darren Shreiber 35:01
the elevator pitch to the non technical folks, I say as we build communication systems, we do voice video and chat services for businesses. That’s what we tell people kind of skips the whole, it’s a reseller model without them asking too much and also gets to the heart of the software and the hardware that we develop.

Evan Kirstel 35:17
You may need to dumb that down a little bit, Jeff.

Dave Michels 35:21
So it used to be that there were no telecom companies in the Bay Area. I mean, I’ve been to your offices in San Francisco. Now there’s several in the Bay Area, you know, ringcentral, Twilio, zoom made by a dial pad, I can lose money more, I’m sure. So tell us about your your setup in Cisco. And if you could do it all over again, do you think the Bay Area makes sense for a telecom startup?

Darren Shreiber 35:44
So we were in the Bay Area until COVID. And since day one, I think that it was a fabulous place for networking with other tech folks, it still has that reputation. I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon. And no, there’s been all this talk about an exodus from the Bay Area, but I still think it’s gonna be a big hub, really, for just meeting people through friends. And, and you end up talking about tech stuff, I don’t know how you replace that electronically. So I think that really is gonna forever be in person, we definitely landed a whole bunch of our first deals because we were local, because we could go to people’s offices and meet face to face. So I think that that was absolutely fantastic. From a growth perspective. If I had to do it all over again, though, I would say that hiring talent is near impossible in the Bay Area, when you’re competing with Google and Facebook and Netflix, and it’s, you just got a request this week, somebody wants unlimited paternity leave, and they want it, you know, salary increases. And they’re all comparing it to those big tech companies. And it’s hard, it’s really expensive. So if I had to do it over again, I probably would keep key talent, who needs to be the ones who interact with the other companies in the Bay Area. But we already now have embarked on distributing our engineering team. People are very happy to live in other places in the country, especially if they can have a house and they can have a pool and they can have places for their kids to have space and local community school. And they don’t need to get paid as much as people do in the Bay Area to have a reasonable living. And so the cost of living piece is a huge, huge driver in distributing our workforce. And we are full in on that initiative at this point. So there is great for networking. And I’m not sure that it’s the best place to hire tech talent. I’m not sure it’s the best place to retain employees on the technical side. So that’s where we’ve certainly divested that effort. And I still love the Bay Area. Yeah,

Evan Kirstel 37:29
who doesn’t the weather, and I love it a little bit of controversy in our last discussion. But all right down, I think we need to wrap it up. But let me give you a quick summary of what we covered just to make sure I got it right. 2600 hertz offers all kinds of customizable communication solutions. It sells to all kinds of organizations, including enterprises, and service providers. And then there was something about Captain Crunch whistle So does that about sums it up? That’s pretty good. I

Darren Shreiber 37:55
like to always toss in that it’s voice video WebRTC and SMS and chat. So those are the key service focus areas. Nailed it. Okay.

Dave Michels 38:03
Well, it’s been great talking to you, Darren, thanks for joining us. Thank you guys. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. That was a really great interview. And Evan, I just want you for a moment to appreciate the wisdom that I’ve been giving you for years. I told you everything in telecom had to do with breakfast cereal and duct tape, but you didn’t believe me?

Evan Kirstel 38:23
Yes, not in that order. But our next guest will be able to throw in even more telecom buzzwords because he’s bringing him in kind of cryptic,

Dave Michels 38:31
what are you talking about? Well,

Evan Kirstel 38:33
our next guests you go feeler is bringing blockchain to telecom so really curious to see what that’s all about.

Dave Michels 38:40
The two will never mix. I mean, duct tape and breakfast will clearly mix crypto and telecom now.

Evan Kirstel 38:47
I disagree. We’ll debate on the next show and find out until then, until then. You gotta get out of here. phone in your phone

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