SpinVox: Domecq Out, Nuance Will Downplay Consumer Offering

SpinVox CEO Christina Domecq has left the company following its acquisition by Nuance, which now aims to refocus the service away from the consumer market.

Companies House documents filed just now show six SpinVox directorships – including Domecq, co-founder Daniel Doulton and recently-named CFO Manoj Parmar – were terminated on the December 30 acquisition date.

Nuance’s EMEA marketing director Alan Ranger confirmed to me: “Christina is no longer actively involved in the business; Daniel is still here.”

SpinVox accounts disclosed in Nuance SEC filings last week showed an inquiry by lawyers and accountants in to administration of the corporate finance led to Domecq repaying the company £125,000; the inquiry concluded personal expenses were not properly disclosed.

Describing the filing, Ranger, speaking from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, said: “We wanted to draw a line under it and look to the future.” In January, he told me whether SpinVox bosses stayed on was “down to them”.

The extent of synergies or restructuring, eight weeks after the deal, is too early to clarify yet, he said: “We don’t have a fully integrated platform yet, but we’re well on the way to having that.”

The future will be a “network operator proposition” rather than a consumer service. “We’re not going to focus on the direct-to-consumer market. We’ll work on providing operators with a service to their consumers,” Ranger said. But that doesn’t mean SpinVox customers who already pay the company directly will be switched off. “We’ll continue to maintain it,” he added. “It won’t be a focus for Nuance.”

SpinVox already had several operator contracts and had won carrier contracts in Latin America last year. “There’s more than a billion voicemail boxes around the world,” Ranger said. “Many will be filled up with 10 times messages that people never get around to looking at.”

This focus will particularly be on “markets where voicemail has been less prevalent”, ie Southern Europe. “Voicemail adoption is 90 percent in France but only 40 percent in Spain and, in Italy, only 15 percent – there’s a good chance, if you ring someone in Italy, it’s just going to ring out with no answer,” Ranger said.

John Small of SpinVox investor GLG (SEO: 066570) Partners and John Botts, whose Tisbury fund had loaned it £30 million, also exited as directors, along with Jeff Kushner. Nuance installed its own international finance VP Jan Anthierens as a director. “It’s part of the acquisition process,” Ranger said. “Most of the staff that were there are still there.”