SpinVox paying staff in stock to save on costs

The much-talked about voice-to-text firm SpinVox is trying to pay staff in stock instead of salary this summer to save money, we have learned and confirmed – despite getting $100 million funding only last year. The company said: “We are offering all of our employees the opportunity to exchange all, part or none of their salary in July and August for share options, according to their wishes … It’s part of reacting to the global credit crunch. We’ve seen other companies take other kinds of measures.”

The spokesperson said the move is voluntary and “in keeping with SpinVox’s approach of being as flexible as possible and widening share ownership”. Stock is given routinely on occasions like anniversaries of service, she said, and: “There’s total freedom to opt in or take salary as normal.”

The invitation will raise an eyebrow, coming after SpinVox raised $100 million in March 2008 from Goldman Sachs, along with GLG Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management. That was one of the biggest venture fundings we saw in Europe last year, and took SpinVox’s total venture funding to $200 million since it was founded in 2003. CEO Christina Domecq said it valued SpinVox at “in excess of $500 million”.

Co-founder Daniel Doulton last week told paidContent:UK the company would need more funding to scale the business if it wins two or three more clients like Telefonica (NYSE: TEF), with which it inked a Latin America deal last month.

The Cambridge firm enables voicemail-to-text and spoken SMS services for carriers, plus powers dictation of blog posts, social network updates etc. Though the company has been aggressively pursuing carrier deals, its eventual goal is to provide a hosted voice messaging service, in which particular words could be hyperlinked to advertising.

The company last filed accounts in December 2007, when SpinVox said it made an annual loss of £36.3 million, up from £11.6 million; revenues rose from £436,000 to £2 million. It has since then signed on 12 additional carriers, including Alltel (NYSE: AT) in the US. Previous reports have said the company has considered an IPO. SpinVox is often said to be one of the UK’s leading tech prospects, but one insider told us stock was “worthless”.