Back in early December, 2010 j2 Global, the owners of eVoice, eFax, and Onebox, acquired Ottawa based Protus IP Solutions the provider of my1voice and MyFax. This was part of a big buying spree by j2 that landed them a total of eight new companies under the j2 Global umbrella. Mostly competitors of j2, and interestingly enough several companies such as Protus, that they had previously been in patent disputes with.
The two companies were engaged in a five year legal battle, with j2 accusing Protus of infringing upon its internet faxing patents and of sending junk faxes to j2 customers. Protus eventually won patent disputes in both Europe and the United States.
Other competitors in the fax-to-e-mail industry that were also involved in similar patent lawsuits with j2 were San Francisco-based CallWave Inc. and Miami’s Venali Inc. CallWave ended up settling its patent infringement lawsuit with j2 in 2007, with j2 buying its rival’s Internet fax assets in 2009. Like Protus, Venali was acquired by j2 in September 2010 as part of the same buying spree that brought Protus under j2′s umbrella.
We were not extremely happy with this development although we have largely remained silent about it up until now. my1voice and myfax were still being supported by the original Protus support staff in Ottawa, and it appeared that things weren’t really changing a whole lot. However, now it appears that they have reduced that staff significantly, with over 100 employees being let go from the Ottawa facility since the aquisition. It also appears that they are migrating some service components to other j2 facilities now, and the Protus call centre in Ottawa has begun taking calls for other j2 product lines.
We’ve also learned that the future of the my1voice product line in particular is tenuous at best. According to Steve Adams, Protus’s vice-president and general manager, the fate of Protus’s my1voice virtual phone service, is “not yet determined.” At the time of the j2 acquisition my1voice only made up 3% of the businesses total sales. my1voice also directly competes with two of j2′s products – evoice and onebox.
We are downgrading our rating of my1voice only because of it’s very uncertain future due of the j2 acquisition, and the fact that j2 really has no reason to keep it around. They have been sending out subtle hints into the merchant community that they do not intend to continue to support the my1voice line much longer. We would suggest that you be very careful if you are considering purchasing my1voice at this time. Also be sure to see the history of j2′s customer support and BBB rating. It is not good.