Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2000 (Revised November 2005)

Tellme Networks, Inc.

by Thomas R. Eisenmann and Nicole Tempest

Abstract

Tellme, an early-stage, venture-backed company based in Silicon Valley, leverages speech-recognition technologies to provide: 1) a "voice portal" with news and other information accessible through any telephone, and 2) turnkey application development and hosting services for other companies that wish to voice-enable customer service and marketing applications. These two businesses are interdependent: partners' applications receive greater usage when they are hosted within Tellme's portal, and Tellme's portal receives greater usage by virtue of hosting a richer array of applications. In the fall of 2000, Tellme managers are debating a number of strategic issues, most importantly: 1) should they agree to voice-enable services for mass-market Internet portals like Yahoo!, which would provide significant application development/hosting revenue but accelerate competition to Tellme's own voice portal?; and 2) should they pursue a "Get Big Fast" strategy, investing aggressively in customer acquisition and brand building?

Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Multi-Sided Platforms; Business Conglomerates; Business Startups; Online Technology; Venture Capital; Technology Adoption; Internet; Brands and Branding; Information Technology; Telecommunications Industry; Technology Industry;

Citation:

Eisenmann, Thomas R., and Nicole Tempest. "Tellme Networks, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 801-319, November 2000. (Revised November 2005.)