Vonage is bombarding its customers like crazy these days. First, I received an email. Then, my under-utilized Vonage phone received a voice message. Both the email and the voice message are touting the Vonage Directed Share Program, which allows its phone product customers to participate in its upcoming IPO.
Here is an excerpt of the message:
"Valued Vonage customer, as you may know Vonage has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission related to its proposed Initial Public Offering- often called an IPO- of common stock. Because much of our success is attributable to our customers, we have asked the underwriters of the IPO to reserve shares of common stock for sale to certain Vonage customers at the IPO price in a Directed Share Program."
One will have to sign up at VonageIPO.com, open a limited purpose account at either Smith Barney, Deutsche Bank Alex.Brown, or UBS Financial Services Inc., and submit a conditional offer before May 19 to be part of the IPO. Each customer is entitled to purchase at most 5,000 shares.
I have never participated in IPO, so this process itself is pretty fun to me. I therefore did the signup last night and created the limited purpose account at SmithBarney. Now I can make a decision anytime prior to the 19th to join the IPO.
But by the end of the day, an investment decision should be based on the merits of the company. On this, I received mixed signals:
• I am a satisfied Vonage customer. Even though I don't use Vonage frequently lately, I'm still happy to pay the monthly due and keep the number.
• Vonage saves a lot of money and adds more free functions for people transferring from traditional phone services.
• On the other hand, Vonage is not the cheapest VOIP provider. For example, SunRocket offers a $199/year package with similar functionalities.
• Vonage is in direct competition of eBay's Skype, and this race forces Vonage to offer free phone call to several Europe countries.
• Vonage recently doubled number of shares in the IPO. A possible sign of confidence?
• Vonage is adding subscribers very quickly and now boasts more than 1.3 million subscribers.
• It is also losing subscribers at a pace of 2.1% per month.
• But Vonage has always been in the red since its inception as it has to spend massively on marketing to attract new customers. And apparently, it will continue to be in red for the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, even if I decide to pull the trigger, I will flip the stock in a matter of days after the IPO. Should I pray for some quick money or keep my value investing roots?