MagicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL)’s innovative founder, Dan Borislow, died unexpectedly Monday.
MagicJack founder had a heart attack after soccer game
After coaching his daughter’s soccer team in West Palm Beach, Florida, Borislow, 52, was reported to be playing soccer in a men’s league in neighboring Jupiter. After the game he died of a heart attack.
Borislow had pulled back from the company he founded, taking the advice of Larry Page and Carlos Slim, working less and enjoying life more. Gerald Vento had replaced him as CEO at MagicJack Vocaltec in January of this year.
Borislow had made his fortune in telecommunications and was a strident innovator. Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson had been a major supporter of the innovations at MagicJack, a stock he proclaimed would be “the next Netflix,” as reported in ValueWalk.
Emergence of MagicJack offering unlimited phone calls
MagicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL) emerged on the scene creating awareness through television infomercials, offering unlimited phone calls over the internet after purchasing the device for $59 and paying a $35 annual fee. “Introducing MagicJack,” the advertisements blared, “the breakthrough device that makes your monthly phone bills disappear.”
Tilson noted the firm succeeded in spite of its marketing. “Speaking of proper marketing, it’s hard to describe how incredibly unsophisticated and unprofessional MagicJack’s marketing was under its former CEO – basically cheesy late-night infomercials,” he wrote. “The fact that the company was able to overcome this and have 3.3 million active subscribers and 5.6 million registered users of its smart phone app is a testament to MagicJack’s value proposition.”
The company and its television commercials were successful, with the company selling over 10 million MagicJack units through both direct television sales and over 25,000 retail outlets. The product essentially connected a computer’s USB port or router to a traditional telephone to enable voice calls over the Internet.
Tilson’s position in MagicJack
“What do Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) have in common?” Whitney Tilson wrote in a document reviewed by ValueWalk. “They offer their customers big savings and great service. Imagine investing in one of these stocks when they were small companies…,” Tilson teased when he discussed his position in MagicJack VocalTec Ltd (NASDAQ:CALL).
Borislow was founder of Tel-Save Holdings, a long-distance telco based in New Hope, Pa., which he took public in 1995. His path to MagicJack would ultimately be a winding one. “I had a smartphone-like idea, in 2004,” he said in a Bloomberg News report. “And I tried like hell. At the time, it was a WiFi phone. We went to Taiwan to where the experts on WiFi were at the time, and we tried — we must have had 30 prototypes of phones. I just couldn’t make what would turn out like a smartphone.”
Then fortune once again smiled on the horse racing enthusiast who once won $6.7 million by predicting the winners of six races at Gulfstream Racing & Casino Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
‘‘So I had $13 million invested of my own money, I had built up a hell of a telecom network while we were trying to make this Wi-Fi phone work — it was costing almost $1 million a month. So I had to come up with an idea, and fast, and really, out of desperation, I came up with the MagicJack.’’
Borislow is survived by his wife, Shelly, two children and three brothers as well as both his parents, the Palm Beach Post reported.