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THE CN INTERVIEW: Lou Guercia

The CN Interview with Lou Guercia of WebDialogs

6 August, 2007

Conferencing News: You recently announced the latest version of Unyte Meeting, the online conferencing service. What essentially does this service provide and how is it different from your other offerings?

Lou Guercia: Having emerged from a successful beta testing window, the new version, which we call Unyte Meeting 8.0, features an enhanced user interface with a new look, videocasting and upgraded audiocasting, which requires less bandwidth. We also stepped up the presentation-recording capabilities. Beta customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward continued strong feedback as the just-announced service is used by subscribers.

CN: How has the uptake been for Unyte Meeting?

LG: Remember that Unyte Meeting is completely browser-based, with no downloads required for hosts, presenters or participants. That’s a significant part of its appeal, and it has borne out in the mushrooming numbers of subscribers.

We will be reaching a pretty significant milestone in numbers of subscribers next month. That includes direct customers and those provided through more than 200 brand names across 70 partner agreements.

CN: Tell us about WebDialog's "multimedia minutes" pricing inUnyte Meeting and how it compares with other services.

LG: Just as a backdrop, Unyte Meeting provides multimedia minutes for about one-third of what competitors charge. Users can select plans on a per-usage “metered” basis whenever they have a need for the service. And the best part about these plans is that users can select the level of service and price they want to pay at the point of use, no upfront commitments. For example, if a user is giving a presentation to 50 people and only requires presentation sharing capabilities, then she can select Unyte Meeting. Later that same day, if she has a training session and she wants to use more advanced features such as polling, she can choose Unyte Meeting Pro. Pay-per-use customers do not have to pay for unused or extra features.

This is singular in the industry, and shows our flexibility. Unyte Meeting essentially costs the same as a voice-only conference call -- with its voice, video and web capabilities thrown in. At same time, WebDialogs offers very low monthly flat rate programs for customers that do not want the variability of metered plans.

CN: How is Unyte Events doing? Who are some of your clients and how successful has this brand been?

LG: Customers are primarily using Unyte events for training, marketing and informational events, and its use has been mushrooming over the last year. We have a large customer in Ireland, for example, that uses the product to reach out to partners around the globe with regularly scheduled events. We also have a US based trade organization that uses it to provide updates to their members and guests.

CN: How about Unyte+ and Unyte Lyte – the collaboration plug-ins? How’s that going?

LG: Unyte Lyte and Unyte+ continue to exceed our expectations. We have over a half million subscribers and thousands more signing up every week – it’s amazing. And the great thing is that we are seeing customers willing to upgrade to the paid Unyte+ from Unyte Lyte. We just released Unyte 2.5 after our most successful beta program ever. It’s really exciting to watch the international response to this product as well. Over half our users are based outside of North America.

CN: What percent of your revenues come from WebDialog's direct brands versus your reseller channel?

LG: Currently the split is about 70- 30, with 70% of the revenue coming from our partners. However, with the growth of our retail product lines, we expect the direct revenues to become a bigger component of our overall revenue in the next few years.

CN: What did you think of the Cisco's recent acquisition of WebEx?

LG: I think it’s great. It validates unified communications and the reality that these technologies are commonplace and an integral part of business today. I’ve said all along that I believed these technologies would become ubiquitous, and this is further proof. It will create some interesting challenges and internal debates for service providers over the next few months. I think there are more deals on the horizon.

CN: So what's the end-game for WebDialogs? Sell the company? Acquire or merge with others? C'mon, Lou, how are you going to cash out?!

LG: It’s the journey, not the destination that matters, right?

CN: Wrong. It's the money that matters, and we all know this. But please, continue...

LG: Seriously, we are just focused on building a good, strong business based on innovative high quality products and if we do that the rest will fall into place. Where that place is, I’m not sure yet.

CN: Where are you going on vacation this summer?

LG: Maine. We go every year and I love it. It’s great to spend time with my family and I enjoy getting out and biking along the trails and the ocean.

CN: Right on, Lou. Thanks for chatting with us. Continued success with WebDialogs.

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