Yahoo To Outsource Messenger Phone Calls To Jajah

By: AP
By: AP

NEW YORK - Yahoo Inc. is outsourcing the Internet telephone functions of its instant messaging program to the startup Jajah.

Jajah will connect the calls to and from users of Yahoo Messenger and handle billing and customer care, the startup said Tuesday. Terms of the deal where not announced. No employees are moving over to Jajah.

The deal is a big score for Jajah, which has grown explosively since it was founded in 2005 in Austria. It is now based in Mountain View, Calif., and boasts 10 million customers.

Yahoo Messenger has 97 million users, but the company has not revealed how many of them use the premium Phone In and Phone Out features. While PC-to-PC calls are free, it charges 1 cent per minute for calls to U.S. phones, and higher rates for other countries. It charges $2.49 a month for a phone number that allows users to receive calls on the PC as if it where a phone. Previously, Yahoo handled the Internet calling functions itself.

Users will see no change to the service, said Jajah Chief Executive Trevor Healy. The Jajah brand may appear in some places, along with Yahoo's.

Sabrina Ellis, vice president of Yahoo Messenger, said the partnership would help Yahoo "continue to provide an even greater communication experience" to its users.

Jajah's main product is a service that allows users to make cheap international calls by entering two phone numbers on the Jajah Web site — their own and the number they want to call. The company calls both numbers. If the calls are answered, Jajah connects them to each other, making it a high-tech version of the long-distance calling card.

Privately held Jajah said it hopes to attract more corporate customers like Yahoo with a package of managed services for voice calls, and is talking to phone and cable companies.

"It's the beginning of a very good strategic shift for us," Healy said.

One of Jajah's investors is Deutsche Telekom AG, the parent of cell carrier T-Mobile USA. Jajah also provides calling services to users of the eHarmony dating site.

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