This Tuesday, Vonage kicks off their Initial Public Offering. As part of the IPO, they are offering a Directed Share Program in which many of their existing customers will have the opportunity to purchase Vonage stock at IPO prices.
A number of bloggers, including myself, have raised some serious doubts about whether or not the DSP is a good idea, as well as whether Vonage's multi-channel marketing of the DSP (including voice mail notification) is a sign of desperation or a sincere, and thorough effort to make loyal customers aware of this oopportunity.
Despite what some bloggers, journalists and analysts think, there appears to be a solid base of support for the DSP among many who are close to Vonage. In fact, it does appear that several bloggers, including myself, have been targeted with a strong, and possibly coordinated, comments campaign following posts we have made that were perceived as negative by Vonage partisans.
Many of these Vonage partisans also hang out on the non-Vonage-affiliated but Vonage-centered Vonage Forum. It's there that you will read some of the most pro-IPO, pro-DSP sentiment out there.
"I am remarkably surprised by the number of new members who have joined the forum in the past few days only to post what I call "Bash -N- Dash" posts, almost as if it is an organized effort to deface the Vonage IPO," Vonage Forum Administrator Dan Connor writes in the weekend edition of the Vonage Forum Digest. "Many companies stand to collectively lose Billions of dollars at the hands of Vonage's success, every RBOC, long distance carrier and dozens of VoIP companies. This is something to consider as you read the negative press.
"Oh, and I am in also, all the way," Connor adds.
"I am in for 5000 shares and as I stated, I would be for 10,000 had I known of this opportunity before hand. I believe in this IPO and that is coming from someone who has read every single thread on this site, negative and positive. I have also met the executive management," Connor writes. (Vonage founder and chairman Jeff) Citron has put together a team of leaders, the best of the best. These are not the kind of guys that hang around a sinking ship, if you know what I mean."
Then on Friday evening, Connor added this zinger:
I can tell at a glance what the temperature is. The signal to noise ratio on this site is very high. I can tell you that on a day when we have 50 new members, 9 of them will post at least 3 times. 8.5 with questions, 0.5 with spam.
Over this past week, that ratio has drastically changed. The bash-na-dashers (register as a new member, tell the world that Vonage S-U-C-K's, and leave the site never to return) have tripled.
Mind you, I have the IP address and page views of each member listed next to each post in the admin mode, so this info is very easily viewable by me.
I can recognize an organized effort when I see it, and I do see it.
Many other posters on the Forum's Vonage IPO Thread are of a similar mindset.
"Why was it bad for Vonage to contact customers via email, voicemail, and postal?," writes pguy40, a Vonage Forum Member. "I got one of each." How else could they have communicated the offer to customers,and why does the way they did it reflect badly on Vonage? If someone wants to offer me a legitimate financial opportunity should they not contact me? Should I read their minds????
"You will find a lot of negative articles before any tech IPO, SEC rules do not allow the company to respond," pguy40 adds. "Remember all the bad press before Google's IPO? Look how that turned out."
And like Daniel Connor, it appears pguy40 is getting set to put his money where his mouse is.
"As for me- I'm in," pguy40 writes of his intent to vest in the Vonage IPO.