Google Should Buy Digium. Really

By Doug Mohney October 21, 2014

I realize Digium has too many services going on that it doesn't fit cleanly into a traditional acquisition by the likes of a Mitel.  Plus, the whole Asterisk open source model screws up a lot of thinking among old school telco heads.   Google is the only one for Digium that makes sense. And Digium is one that makes a lot of sense for Google.

Why should Google love Digium? Let me count the many ways. 

Culturally, Digium has the open source mentality down pat.  It has adopted just enough to build hardware when it found advantage, first in boards, then in appliances and phones.  It offers Switchvox as a (cloud) service and just added SIP trunks into its portfolio.   About the only area I'd fault the company on is taking so long for offering a cloud service. 

Google would get better access and branding in two communities, IP communications developers—the guys plugging away at Asterisk all these years—and the value-added reseller community that has built tons of applications and has tens of thousands of paying customers.  Imagine combining the Asterisk community with Google's Cloud Platform, then weaving together bundles of Asterisk support with Google Cloud storage, services, and applications.  What's Amazon done for Asterisk developers lately, hmm?

Speaking of Asterisk plus Google, imagine taking the current hosted Switchvox architecture and making it available globally, enabling higher levels of access, fault tolerance and geographic diversity. Google could offer businesses a true enterprise-scale hosted offering, as well as build out a business portfolio suitable for SMBs.  

Down the road, the company could figure out how to integrate all the functions into Hangouts, but that's less important than having business services to match cable and ITSP/CLEC/ILEC hosted offerings.  Google Fiber should have a native, business-class voice offering. Digium has the technology, experience, and channels to sell that service, both directly and via channel sales.

How hardware fits into the picture is an interesting question.  On the one hand, Google already has a bunch of people working on mobile phones, Chromecast, Android tablets, and Chromebooks. On the other hand, how cool would it be to bring out a Google-branded desktop phone to be used with Switchvox and other business offerings?

Finally, Google would get two bonuses that don't fit on the normal M&A spreadsheet.  Digium's core team of executive leadership has been in place for what seems like forever.   Founder and CTO Mark Spencer can hold his own with any of the Google wunderkin while Danny Windham would be a solid addition to the Google executive team.

Some might argue that Digium would be forever altered by having to report to Mountain View. I would argue that Google needs Huntsville more.   Silicon Valley is crazy competitive and  expensive with companies falling over themselves to offer higher salaries and better perks.  The cost of living doesn't help, and one could argue that Google has mined out most of the local talent.

Huntsville has location-location-location going for it.  Digium already has office space there, with the option to obtain more within the technology park.  The area is affordable with a good quality of life and there are a number of colleges in the area that feed the other high-tech employers (ADTRAN, NASA, Hudson-Alpha). 

Digium could become the cornerstone for "Google South," a campus tapping into the intellectual capital of the region.  Huntsville can support both traditional IP communications efforts, as well as Google's explorations into biotechnology and aerospace. And, it could all be done much more cost-effectively than trying to build new facilities in Silicon Valley. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Editor

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