They Own You When You Own Them

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Maybe this fits into that whole “ownership culture” meme. As part of its preparation for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock, voice-over-IP company Vonage has set aside stock for its loyal customers as “friends and family,” if you will. The company sent out an e-mail to subscribers this week telling them that “Because much of our success is attributable to our customers, we have asked the underwriters of the IPO to reserve shares of common stock for sale to certain Vonage customers at the IPO price in a Directed Share Program.” I guess they can’t speak plain English in any communication that has to do with an IPO. To qualify, customers must have been subscribers from December 15, 2005 through February 1, 2006. How better to hold onto customers than to convert them into shareholders? (And it’s especially important in the VoIP space given the myriad competitors out there, from phone companies to Skype to, now, AOL.)

UPDATE: Vonage also left an audio message in my voicemail box to tell me of its offer, which some people considered VoIP spam. I did find it a bit annoying.

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