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Vonage Vows to Pursue Customers Who Renege on IPO

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the or-else dept.

200

kamikaze-Tech writes "As its shares continued to sink following its initial public offering last week, Vonage Holdings Corp. (VG) said it plans to hold Customers who promised to buy IPO shares to their pledges. In a WSJ article posted in the Vonage Forums; a Vonage spokeswoman said Wednesday the company will pursue payment from customers who renege on their agreements to pay for the botched IPO shares. Shares of Vonage, which offers Internet-based phone service, immediately plunged from the $17 IPO price, and they closed Wednesday at $12.02 in 4 p.m. "If they don't pay, we will reserve our right to pursue payment," said Brooke Schulz. She added that speculation that the company intends to buy shares back from disappointed investors are false. "They are taking a risk if they choose not to pay," she said."

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200 comments

niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443082)

you're all niggers (fp)

They might need to delay gratification (3, Funny)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443083)

I hope the bigwigs at Vonage held off on those Ferraris they were planning to buy... :D

Re:They might need to delay gratification (3, Informative)

OlivierB (709839) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443118)

Well they may already have. IPO money goes to the company issuing its shares. Once they are on the Nasdaq or NYSE they are on the secondary market; i.e. the shares you buy or sell are traded with the company itself but with some other chap who has the exact opposite view to yours.
Hence those who had their Vonage stock converted in ordinary public shares already sold at $17, if they got ahold of these at lower price (or free as stock options) than they probably already have the Ferrari dealer on their friends list.

Re:They might need to delay gratification (1)

Momoru (837801) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443553)

How is the parent a troll? What he said is exactly correct... half the point of IPO's is to make insiders some instant cash.

Let's piss off investors and potential shareholder (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443087)

Let's piss off investors and potential shareholders. Better yet, while we're at it, can we get some bad press and announce to the rest of the world that everyone wants to back away from our stock?

People love investing a pariah stock that reeks of desperation.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (2, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443236)

So, if you were a potential investor in Vonage, you'd be happy if they just let people back out of their legal obligations, regardless of any financial damage to the company itself?

You have strange ideas about responsible corporate governance.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443432)

I don't know for a fact that you can commit to purchase a stock before the IPO. That is the entire point of an IPO, is that it is the fist time it is available for purchase. You can't purchase it any earlier. And before the IPO, you don't know the price.

Breaking a verbal contract is shitty. However, are the people legally obligated? I don't know.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (3, Insightful)

bastion_xx (233612) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443671)

Commitment to the shares required various steps which were clearly stated that if you sign up, you are responsible for the shares no matter which way they went (up or down). I think Vonage, or the institutions that performed the IPO should go after those that committed to the shares.

As part of the process they gave an estimate for the float price and cautioned that you should have X funds ready to send. I guess the real question is was there enough information during the signup process to authenticate the person and informing them of the rules of the IPO. I would think so, but then again, IANAL.

I looked into the IPO as I qualified and actually committed to a certain amount of shares. However, after speaking with investor friends, they recommended staying away from the IPO for various reasons. I went back to the site and retracted my offer. So I'm not on the hook for these shares.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443847)

When you commit to buy shares, do you buy them at the IPO price or the current price? It would be really bad if shares are trading at $10 and you have to still buy them at $17.

Hopefully this experience will shake some sense into people who think that IPOs are a way to make easy money.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (3, Informative)

bobwoodard (92257) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443825)

Yep, they made you go through multi stage process where they warned you multiple times that you could lose some or all of your money. They also made you analyze your threshold of risk and after all that and a few more dire threats you were given the agreement to puchase an unknown number of shares. It was unknown since the number of share available was dependent on the number of people participating.

You're correct though, you weren't agreeing to purchase the shares before the IPO (since the price wasn't known), you were agreeing to purchase the shares at the opening IPO price.

Since the IPO was pretty bad, you've now got some upset people.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (4, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443257)

This isn't going to piss off investors or potential shareholders, it's good for them.

What's better for investors, Vonage sitting on unsold shares with a paper value of $12.02 each or Vonage having $17 cash in the bank?

The more shares Vonage sells for $17, the more money it makes, and the more valuable it is as company, which should mean the shares go up. Good for investors, good for potential shareholders.

The only people this is bad for are the gamblers who agreed to pay $17 for something that turned out to be worth $12.02.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (1)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443637)

That's stupid. How much shares are sold has NOTHING to do DIRECTLY with the PROFIT of Vonage. The shares are sold to generate operating capital, not for profit. The Market Capitilization of Vonage (# shares outstanding * current price per share) may or may not be important. Sometimes loan convenants are based on debt/equity ratios and the more equity (shares sold) the better D/E ratio and ususally that means a lower the interest rate on the debt (bonds & Short-Term financing). That has an effect on Interest Expense which has an effect on Profit.If they sell shares at 12 or 17 only matters as to whether they can undertake projects using funds from the IPO or if they have to borrow it or use Cash Flow from Operations. If investors see the stock crater to $12 from $17 and think $12 is a good price they'll buy it and the stock goes back up. Until the stock price goes back up Vonage can just sit on the shares they didn't sell at IPO. IF the price goes back to $17 (or maybe more) then they sell them on the open market instead of to the IPO subscribers. If the price jumps then the investors backing out lost money and Vonage gets more capital to work with. However selling at $12 is better than waiting and selling at less if the company doesn't perform.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443762)

Actually, it will send the investors to the hills. You can pledge whatever you want, unless you sign your name to the dotted line on a contract saying you will do "X", you have little room to work with. All this is going to do is cause their current share price to plummet further.

It's a dumb move on their part- what they need to do is do things to improve the market's confidence in them, this isn't it.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443878)

This isn't going to piss off investors or potential shareholders, it's good for them.

Yea, it won't piss off any of the investors. ...except for maybe those that want OUT.

Re:Let's piss off investors and potential sharehol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443827)

At the end of the day, an obligation to buy at a certain price is still an obligation to buy, even if the market went against you after you made the agreement.

Buying into IPOs carries substantial risks, and it is not normally possible to sell IPO shares immediately; if you want to flip your shares, you don't use the IPO to acquire shares.

What? (5, Interesting)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443089)

I have read TFA, but I still dont understand.

Does this mean that people have promised to buy shares at an agreed price, but because the price has already dropped they will not actually buy those shares?
If so, how did they 'promise', if they have done so in writing, then surely Vonage can demand they do buy those shares at that price?

Or is this a case of a company mucking up a floatation, realising that it is now massively in debt to external creditors and is trying to reclaim that money by threatening people?

Can someone please clear this up for me?

Re:What? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443126)

I'm no expert, but when a company goes public, they have an IPO, or Initial Public Offering. There is a period of a few months when planning the IPO that the stock isn't actually being traded, while it is common knowledge however that an IPO is being planned.

People may have promised to jump on the initial bandwagon for the IPO, however, no one knows what price the stock will open at. Google is the only company that effectively wrestled the market and determined their own opening stock price, which the SEC wasn't too happy about.

My guess is that the IPO price was higher than people expected, so they didn't buy the stock like they intended to, and then the stock plummeted quickly there after.

Re:What? (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443162)

So, in summary, you think that Vonage had grossly miscalculated, its initial value and therefore the IPO?
However, did people make a commitment to buy those shares? If they did, then regardless of how badly Vonage floated itself it has every right to hold them to their commitment, doesn't it?

Re:What? (3, Informative)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443190)

determined their own opening stock price, which the SEC wasn't too happy about.

I don't think it was the sec that had the problem. It was the investment bankers that couldn't make the billion dollars with their investment banker cronies in the usual fasion. The sec is there to protect us not them -- though it usually doesn't really bother...

Vonage originally offered not to pay (5, Informative)

nodwick (716348) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443237)

I submitted a story on this yesterday morning. Vonage went on CNBC Wednesday morning [nypost.com] and announced that it "is going to let some of its customers off the hook by buying their unwanted shares." The statement said that "While all avenues are available to us we cannot imagine alienating our customers in that way. If certain . . . customers don't pay we expect to repurchase shares from the underwriters if necessary."

People immediately started pointing out that it is illegal for a compnay to treat different shareholders in the same class differently -- Vonage was only offering to "make whole" (Wall Street speak for "absorb the losses of") investors that hadn't yet paid for their shares; people that had paid were SOL.

The whole IPO has basically been a mess, with snafus both in selling shares to their customers and delivering them. Some Vonage customers that they were led to believe that they "weren't allocated shares in the IPO [thestreet.com] when in fact they had received the shares. Others investors who purchased shares have complained that technical glitches on a Web site set up for Vonage customers prevented them from executing sales in a timely fashion."

I've had good experiences with the Vonage product as a customer, but there are many, many stories of how poorly Vonage customer service treats their customers. They're very slow in sorting out problems -- it took them 3 months to transfer my land-line phone number, and initially the temporary number they gave me was in a different area code than my city, putting me in a long-distance calling zone relative to my friends. It took hours before they fixed it (they kept claiming it wasn't "technically possible" to give me a new number). Analysts are worried that future propects for the company [businessweek.com] might not look so good, and that screwing over their own customers in the IPO might be the last straw.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

Marsala (4168) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443293)

Does this mean that people have promised to buy shares at an agreed price, but because the price has already dropped they will not actually buy those shares?

Basically, yes. Part of the registration for participation in Vonage's IPO was that you agreed to purchase a set amount of shares at $17. Now that the price is less than $17, it'd cost them money to fulfill this agreement, so they (understandably) want out of it.

If so, how did they 'promise', if they have done so in writing, then surely Vonage can demand they do buy those shares at that price?

Basically, Vonage has got their consent to the online form and the fact that they had to open up a brokerage account to participate as proof that the people entered into the agreement knowingly. There were warnings in the agreement about this situation happening, but most folks probably assumed that was just boilerplate (nevermind the fact that there's a reason that boilerplate is included in the first place).

Or is this a case of a company mucking up a floatation, realising that it is now massively in debt to external creditors and is trying to reclaim that money by threatening people?

I don't know if it's so much that Vonage is in debt as it is that the first sale of its stock during the IPO is how the company raises money from the IPO. Vonage's standpoint here is "You promised to give us $500 a week ago and we're going to hold you to that promise even though you were expecting to make $600 back and now instead will only be able to make $300 back. The $200 loss is your problem, not ours."

A class act would forgive the customers and offer to either release them from the agreement or offer them a chance to change the terms to something that won't cost them money. Aside from being a decent thing to do and aside from being a good way to prevent a bunch of customers from churning over this, it also would make the company look less desperate and maybe help stop the downward spiral the stock price is currently in.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

Stone Pony (665064) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443495)

"A class act would forgive the customers and offer to either release them from the agreement or offer them a chance to change the terms to something that won't cost them money"

Alternatively, you could argue that a class act would stop bleating about how his "can't miss" money-making proposition didn't work out the way he'd hoped and pony up the cash that he'd freely agreed to pay.

Just a thought. I don't really care one way or the other, but it would be nice to see someone standing up for the notion of personal responsibility.

Re:What? (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443879)

Big time. I received the same offer all the other customers did and after looking at it carefully, I decided not to participate because I don't see Vonage having long-term (5-10 years) viability. Vonage was *very clear* in their signup process about the risks involved, and anyone that chooses to buy stock in a publicly owned company should already be aware of such risks. I have not the least bit of sympathy for anyone who thought they were going to get rich quick and instead finds themselves in the hole five bucks per share. Guess what,

sometimes it happens to Warren Buffett too, but you don't see him whining about it.

The unfortunate thing is that no matter what Vonage does, they're screwed. If they try to (rightly, IMHO) hold these people to their commitments, it's a PR disaster in the making, and if they forgive the pledges, it's going to cost them real money, which isn't fair to the company and by extension those people who *did* fulfill their obligation.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443361)

The underwriter company that does the IPO guarantees that there will be buyers at the agreed price. Usually they are big clients of the underwriter and they make a pile of money on the IPO, becuase normally a IPO stock shoots up and they in at a price that the normal investors can't buy.
In this case the IPO actually went down, so it looks like these same investors want it both ways, to make piles of money when an IPO is sucessful and take no risk when a IPO tanks.

News for MBAs (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443090)

Stuff that's Boring.

Sued the customers, now sue the owners (4, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443092)

This is actually quite funny. I thought it was insane that the MPAA and RIAA were so willing to sue their own customers if they didn't do everything legitimately but this is new: Sue your owners. Now let's get Metallica involved and we should see the comedy skits and cartoons roll across our web pages - it'll be even better than the Napster thing.

Can't wait till a company gets so desperate it sues itself. (I bet it's already happened and I get lots of links).

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443117)

Re: vonage: there's nothing weird about sueing someone who breaches a contract (even a verbal contract) with you.
Why would it matter that the contract is about share deals, or anything else?
Can you imagine how the prospective buyers would react if the shares had shot up, and Vonage management had said that they'd decided to sell them at the higher price?
If you want to become a stock market speculators, you have to learn to cope with the fact your going to be wrong sometimes, and suck up the loss you take.

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (5, Interesting)

nodwick (716348) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443260)

Re: vonage: there's nothing weird about sueing someone who breaches a contract (even a verbal contract) with you. Why would it matter that the contract is about share deals, or anything else?

Can you imagine how the prospective buyers would react if the shares had shot up, and Vonage management had said that they'd decided to sell them at the higher price?

If you want to become a stock market speculators, you have to learn to cope with the fact your going to be wrong sometimes, and suck up the loss you take.

A lot of the complaints have centered around the really poor execution of the sale. Shares were supposed to be issued to the buyers at the IPO price immediately, so that buyers could then trade them on the first day. Instead, the underwriters screwed up their purchasing system [thestreet.com] so that buyers couldn't put stop-loss orders or sell their shares on the way down and limit their losses; instead, the computer system refused to accept sells and forced them to sit there watching the share price fall. Even worse, some buyers were initially told they weren't allocated shares, only to find out at the end of that day that they actually were given shares. (To extend your analogy, how would you feel about initially being told you wouldn't get any shares, then the price tanked, and THEN you were told that whoops, we made a mistake, and we're going to be selling you shares at a 12% markup to the current market price anyhow?)

Note that IPO shares are typically priced slightly below what the company thinks the fair value is, in order to give the initial purchasers a good deal. The more paranoid (cynical?) have suggested that Vonage deliberately overpriced its shares and used its own customers to prop up its IPO price. Given that customer relations for the company weren't stellar to begin with (too many horror stories dealing with their staff [weekly.org] ), this is going to generate a lot more negative PR with both their current customer base and potential future customers.

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (2, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443273)

Well, that's fair enough.

If Vonage screwed up, they screwed up, and they'll lose their lawsuits. But that doesn't invalidate my initial point -- in the absence of various irregularities, a breach of contract suit would be normal common practice. Sorting out this sort of mess, and finding who is to blame is something that courts (with the SEC) are good for.

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443870)

It's always wise to recall Groucho Marx when dealing with IPOs, "I don't want to be a member of any club that will take me." When average investors (or brand new investors) are being allocated IPO shares it's a good idea to run away from the deal.

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443934)

What is legal doesn't make business sense.

The point is, even if there is a legal right to sue, does it make sense to do it? Do you sue your customers and prospective owners, such that they can vote you off the board, or dump the shares on the open market and sign up to Packet8 or other services? That sounds retarded. I don't care if it was a breach of contract, it is dumb to enforce this contract. That is, if there ever was a contract, the press release isn't clear.

Given that the stock price dropped quickly, I think it shows that the IPO price was excessive in the first place.

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (1)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443124)

Now let's get Metallica involved and we should see the comedy skits and cartoons roll across our web page

Metallica probably wouldn't be interested but im pretty sure SCO are ;)

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (5, Interesting)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443136)

Can't wait till a company gets so desperate it sues itself. (I bet it's already happened and I get lots of links).
It just so happened three years ago, that Fox News attempted to sue the makers of the Simpsons - http://washingtontimes.com/entertainment/20031029- 091743-7849r.htm [washingtontimes.com] , both are of course part of the same company.
It just goes to show that too many suits 'Sue first, think later'.

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (3, Informative)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443202)

Sorry mate but that was a joke by Matt Groening. He only said it in passing and it went around the world before he had a chance to say "just kidding".

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (1)

briancarnell (94247) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443263)

"It just so happened three years ago, that Fox News attempted to sue the makers of the Simpsons..."

It just so happens that was a clever hoax started by Matt Groening who was pulling a reporter's leg.

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (1, Offtopic)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443160)

Mettalica probably don't own any shares in anything , they prefer to sell out

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443188)

lol

Re:Sued the customers, now sue the owners (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443340)

funny you should mention.. I agreed to buy 51% of the issued stock, but reneged. So if the Vonage execs sue me and win, my first act will be to FIRE THEM ALL. their call. HA.

Vonage IPO (3, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443094)

I hope they don't come after me. I went through their signup, and stopped when I saw the price and the mininum number of shares to buy. I was willing to throw a few bucks into it, but not anywhere near what they were asking for. Stocks are a gamble, and I have my limits. This time, it looks like I made the right choice.

Re:Vonage IPO (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443351)

I hope they don't come after me. I went through their signup, and stopped when I saw the price and the mininum number of shares to buy. I was willing to throw a few bucks into it, but not anywhere near what they were asking for. Stocks are a gamble, and I have my limits. This time, it looks like I made the right choice.

They can't come after you if you didn't actually follow through on the order. Deciding not to do it *beforehand* is OK - *after the fact* not so much.

On another note, to all the people who actually *did* back out of your commitments, I have two things to say:

1) at the point where they opened up the IPO to (basically) the public, you should have known the stock was a dog. Companies use access to IPOs as perks to financial institutions in return for favors, like reduced rates on loans. If they open the IPO up to regular people, run.

2) If you can't stand risk in investing, stay in the kiddie pool. Enjoy the 1.5% return on your savings account.

Re:Vonage IPO (1)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443552)

1) Yes, opening the IPO to the public (or customers, in this case) is a red flag... but keep in mind that the Google IPO was also open to the public, and look what happened there.

2) If you are getting 1.5% on your savings account, you need to get a better savings account. On line banks are offering over 4% these days.

Also, the investment bankers who hung this IPO out to dry ought to be shot.

Re:Vonage IPO (1)

mosch (204) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443786)

I'm quite glad I didn't follow your advice during the RHAT and LNUX IPOs.

I did the same thing (1)

epseps (39675) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443568)

$16 to $18 a share and they chose the middle of $17. I would have bought if the IPO was at around $7 or $8 a share.

And to clarify what JWSmythe is talking about "coming after him" is that we curious Vonage customers had to sign up with an account and go through steps to read about the IPO with a special account tied to our phone number and customer number. The worry is that those who went through the process as far as seeing the price and deciding against it, might be persued by zealous lawyers if enough of the people who agreed to buy the IPO do not purchase the stock they agreed to buy.

Lets hope that does not happen.

Re:Vonage IPO (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443672)

I went through their signup, and stopped when I saw the price and the mininum number of shares to buy.
Sounds like "Whoo-hoo, Hoo-hoo-hoo" Vonage offered its shares through "pay first then we tell you the details" Priceline.com.

Sigh. This smells so 1990's.

At $5/per share and rising, the likelihood is increasing that Vonage will attack its non-paying customers to get low-hanging fruit. Good luck!

Re:Vonage IPO (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443912)

I am in the same boat you are.

I clicked through the first few pages to check it out and opted out after I read the details. Since we decided not to commit to the contract after reading it rather than going through with it and reneging on the purchase later I believe we are both in the clear.

a small mistake at the start? (4, Interesting)

EsonLinji (723693) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443095)

Aren't stock prices meant to go up after an IPO for at least a few days so the investment brokers can offload the shares at a profit before the stock drops? This seems to have been really poorly organised.

As to the practicalities, if someones signed a contract saying they'll buy so many shares at a certain price, you can't blame the other party for holding them to it, even if they do look like idiots doing so.

Re:a small mistake at the start? (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443232)

It doesn't work like that.

Instead, you sign up people to buy the stock at some fixed, agreed upon price. This price will most of the time turn out to be somewhat lower than what the stock starts trading at -- if not, you'd not manage to sign up people for all the stock.

Now, I don't know why it's done like that, probably just tradition. The logical way to get a correct market-pricing for the stock from the get-go would be to hold an auction, and to give the stock to those willing to pay the most, for the lowest price of those.

For example, if you wanted to IPO with 3 shares, you'd hold an auction, and if the bids where 10,8,7,5,5,4 then the ones bidding 10,8 and 7 get one each, at the price 7. (because that's the highest price you can sell all shares for)

Re:a small mistake at the start? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443287)

It's done that way for several reasons, including:

It guarantees a certain share value (if all the shares are sold). Rightly or wrongly, lots of investors prefer a guarantee to an auction-dependant price.

It attracts people who invest in IPOs (because they usually go up) but are not interested investing in the particular market sector long term. These people smooth over the problem that while the company might be worth x per share, there isn't necessarily (x times the number of shares for sale) spare cash floating around on day 1 to buy the shares.

Re:a small mistake at the start? (1)

Acid-Duck (228035) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443314)

And what do you think happens when people unload on a stock? All of a sudden there's a huge supply which exceeds the demand. For that reason, people who trade with real-time quotes will immediately lower their offering prices for the shares since they realize someone really wants/needs to unload alot. To make things worst, sometimes ppl will want to unload "at any cost" which is when you can see the price of a share go down sharply. What this means, let's say bid/ask was 16.90/17.00 whoever wants to unload puts in a sell order to unload at "market price" which means it'll start selling at 16.90 and won't stop selling shares at the market price, regardless of what it drops it.

Re:a small mistake at the start? (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443464)

And what do you think happens when people unload on a stock?

You get LNUX shares going from $320 to $4 a share? :-) God, anybody who held onto that worthless VA Software stock has got to be kicking themselves.

Re:a small mistake at the start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443931)

I looked at the IPO and then found out thru the article I read that Vonage never made a profit, no one wanted to merge with it, and couldn't supposedly get a bank loan, so Vonage was going to IPO with their customers. The risk to Vonage is that they piss off the customers if the IPO doesn't go well and the customers go to another VOIP provider. After all VOIP is just a black box on your dsl connection.

http://www.clevelandredlightcameras.com/ [clevelandr...ameras.com]

Another dot com failure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443096)

I hope everyone gets to keep their Herman Miller chairs!!!

stupid bitch has it backwards (1, Troll)

Mean Ass Troll (834934) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443107)

boohoohoo boohoohoo

not paying for shitty, artificailly inflated ipo shares that went down as soon as the underwriter pulled the rug from below is not taking a risk. it is taking an educated chance to prevent getting ripped off. pursuing payment is truly a chance for vonage, as they risk potential prison for allegations that will probably surface in numerous countersuits if they try and "persue payment". who does this pr shill think she is scaring/kidding?

Re:stupid bitch has it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443180)

Almost right... Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo Hoo! Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo Hoo!

Joe Average Customer (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443142)

So take Joe Customer who signed up for 200 shares and was allocated 100.

Purchase price: 1,700.00
Current Value: 1,200.00
Loss Customer: 500.00

Vonage Phone Service Bill: $ 324.00 (pre IPO)
Vonage Phone Service Bill: $ 0.00 (post IPO)
Loss to Vonage: $ 324.00
5 years loss to Vonage: $1,620.00

Joe Average Customer becomes Joe Pissed off ex-customer.

Other way around... (1, Troll)

tekrat (242117) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443157)

This is new... Usually it's the shareholders that sue the company. Now the company sues the (potential) shareholders? What's next? Buy my stock or I'll sue you? I'm aghast at these companies that think that they are entitled to money, regardless of the situation. The RIAA and the MPAA are the tip of the iceberg it seems, by suing their customer base.

Pretty soon companies will threaten consumers in televised ads "Buy our beer or we'll sue you!"... I predict GM will actually be first.. "Buy our overpriced SUVs or we'll sue you!" Isn't it Ford however that now makes their employees buy Fords if they want to park in the company parking lot?

Is there ANY tactic a company won't stoop to in the interest of profit? Like politicians, the American public grows quickly tired of being abused and lied to, it's only a matter of time before there's a huge backlash to all this insanity.

TTYL
Brian C.

Is relief in sight? (3, Insightful)

tm2b (42473) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443170)

I don't care, so long as Vonage stops those freakin' annoying commercials. They're like when a three year old gets a hold of phrase they like and won't stop repeating it. I mean, yeesh. I can be three rooms away from the TV and nearly be irritated out of my skin by those things.

OMG Vonage. What next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443182)

Lame.Lame.Lame. Someone should hack vonage.com and replace it with this: TubGull [tubgull.com]

Re:OMG Vonage. What next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443242)

HAHAHAH! Tubgull owns you.

IPO - big mistake (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443207)

Not only is Vonage inferior to Skype, not only is their stock price dog poo, but by going public, they expose themselves to Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, therefore increasing their operating costs by millions of dollars. I don't know why any successful corporation would go public and subject itself to arbitrary and capricious rulings by the new American Communism.

Vonage *may* be justified in doing this.. (3, Insightful)

leeum (156395) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443213)

I originally thought this was a bit of extremely bad PR at first. When thinking about this further, I do believe that Vonage might have a justification for insisting payment.

I couldn't find any information about the IPO price-setting process in the United States but I am assuming (call it an educated guess) that, at some point prior to the IPO, Vonage must have announced to all participants in the IPO a confirmed price per share: in this case, $ 17 per share. It would then make sense to me that Vonage would be obliged to give participants the option of dropping out, or confirming that they are still interested in purchasing the shares.

Assuming all the above is true, I would think that, at the date of the IPO itself, purchases are contractually obliged to purchase those shares at $ 17 per share and pay up. The article seems to imply that the investors are now balking on their contractual obligation and refusing to pay up given that price per share has fallen in subsequent days.

However, I have not been able to find any evidence to suggest that Vonage has been unfair in its IPO process. Of course, as this story pans out, we may actually hear from some of the individuals involved.

I did, however, find an early SEC filing related to this auction, available here [sec.gov] .
This filing doesn't seem to give any information about the proposed initial price, but I thought it was interesting that the company did disclose that theirs was a high risk stock, and listed several risk factors that could negatively impact the value of their stock.

Re:Vonage *may* be justified in doing this.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443254)

Yes, Vonage's position is completely justified in this case. Anyone who bought into the Vonage IPO got exactly what was coming to them. The company was so desperate to sell shares that it actually sent messages to its customers [slashdot.org] in the days immediately beforehand, practically begging them to take its shares. If that didn't raise red flags for you, then good God, what the hell are you doing in the financial markets at all?

Re:Vonage *may* be justified in doing this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443286)

This filing doesn't seem to give any information about the proposed initial price, but I thought it was interesting that the company did disclose that theirs was a high risk stock, and listed several risk factors that could negatively impact the value of their stock.

That's an SEC requirement. So, what they actually said might be interesting (but ought to be obvious to any serious invester considering purchasing shares in the company) it is standard procedure for them to make such disclosures in their filings.

Re:Vonage *may* be justified in doing this.. (5, Informative)

ps (21245) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443350)

I was part of that IPO as a potential investor. The process was very clear.

*You "read" the prospectus (think EULA "check this box" kind of thing) that warned you extensively about the risk involved. Those risks were very clearly stated.
*You had to read a page on the risks involved, with all of them ending in "and you could lose all the money you invest"
*You created a limited purpose account with a brokerage.
*You were told to read the prospectus again.
*You made a conditional bid in 100 share increments, with the expectation that the price would be between $16-18. You were told that you could drop out at any time prior to the price being set, and that your bid, if accepted, would be binding.
*You were told that the price was about to be set.
*You were told to read the prospectus again.
*The price was set at $17.00
*You were told "The posting of this information and the final terms of the intial public offering constitutes the underwriters' acceptance of your conditional offer to purchase shares of Vonage common stock. Accordingly, you are now obligated to purchase the number of shares you have been allocated, if any."

Having gone through it, I have no doubt that they are on firm legal ground (IANAL). You had to accept (again EULA type) every single step of the way, and every time you logged into the website.

Thank God my bid wasn't accepted!

-ps

Re:Vonage *may* be justified in doing this.. (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443538)

The key words are at the end:

"the underwriters' acceptance of your conditional offer to purchase shares"

It's a conditional offer. You can withdraw it.

Re:Vonage *may* be justified in doing this.. (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443677)

No, that means that the underwriters don't have to give you the stock if it's not available (i.e. if by the time you made your bid, all shares had been allocated to other investors. The real key words are right after that: "you are now obligated to purchase the number of shares you have been allocated"

What is the problem? (2, Interesting)

Super_Z (756391) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443224)

[..] it plans to hold Customers who promised to buy IPO shares to their pledges.
What is the problem? When you sign up for shares in an IPO, you sign a contract that commits you to actually buy the shares at the given price. When the stocks are listed, the agreed amount of shares are transferred to your account. At this point in time, you are expected to pay for them. If you don't, its a breach of contract, or simply "embezzlement" as the rest of us would call it.

Re:What is the problem? (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443483)

The problem is that the Vonage IPO was not handled in a traditional way with a traditional cast of players. According to TFA, "Vonage took the unusual approach of allowing customers and other people close to the company to reserve shares without putting down any money. They weren't required to pay for the shares until May 30, six days after the May 24 IPO." There are customers who claim that they were not aware that they had actually agreed to purchase any shares as there was no order confirmation process.

The delayed payment arrangement, a web based purchasing system that may not have produced a binding contract, naive investors (who are also Vonage's customers), and the inability of Vonage to forgive the stock purchases; have started a legal and PR nightmare for Vonage.

What kind of agreement? (1)

Acid-Duck (228035) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443247)

I'm not a Vonage customer myself so I must ask: what kind of agreement did Vonage have with their customers? Was it a signed paper agreement or one of those signatures where you type your name on a webpage? If they signed an agreement then yes they're probably in trouble.
Erik

Re:What kind of agreement? (1)

digitalcaffeine (787048) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443357)

My brother-in-law is a Vonage customer and received the info for buying into the IPO. He definitely wasn't interested when he saw the minimum number of shares that had to be purchased. I didn't see the document he received from Vonage, but he said there were a few hoops you had to jump through to get in line to purchase the shares. It isn't like it was very difficult, but not as easy as say "respond to this email and you're in" type of thing.

Re:What kind of agreement? (1)

bobwoodard (92257) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443914)

It was a pretty lengthy process with multiple warnings about losing some or all of your money and just how risky the whole proposition was. It also wasn't a click-click-click accept type of form, they had a mixture of input types that forced you to read the page to see what they were looking for.

IPO's and investing (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443321)

They bought shares of a company at IPO at a specific price.
They have to pay for those shares they bought at that price.

I think IPO's are generally unsuitable for novice investors.

I would bet the customers not willing to pay were fully expecting quick easy money with no risk.

Those who participate in get rich quick schemes deserve what they get.

Re:IPO's and investing (1)

tonyray (215820) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443583)

I'm betting a lot of them didn't have the money and were expecting to sell their shares ahead of purchasing them. For example, I have $0 in my bank account but I promise to pay $17 for 100,000 shares and they accept my offer. Then the stock goes up to $24 the next day. I offer to sell my contract for $23 per share. Bang, $600,000 in my pocket.

Re:IPO's and investing (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443617)

Novice investors shouldn't use such a strategy.
Particularly since IPO's are guaranteed to go up.

Re: IPO's and investing (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443641)

> They bought shares of a company at IPO at a specific price.
> They have to pay for those shares they bought at that price.

I'm surprised to hear that it wasn't set up so that your money was handed over automatically.

Also, I suspect that the SEC would take a dim view of reneging on IPO commitments.

I'm an actual employee at Vonage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443326)

I work for Vonage,
so I am really getting a kick out of most of these comments. Some of you guys are very good at making it sound like you know what you are talking about. But trust me. You don't.

I think you just want to make yourself sound smart, when in reality you don't know what you are talking about. This is how bad info gets passed around. If you don't know about the topic don't make yourself sound like you do.

Re:I'm an actual employee at Vonage (1)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443522)

You keep repeating yourself... just like a Vonage customer has to do when using your company's shitty service.

Underwriters will sue the customers (2, Insightful)

rabun_bike (905430) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443335)

The customers who bought stock prior to the opening bell on the first day did so at a guaranteed price. They purchased the stock not from Vonage but from the underwriters who financed the IPO deal and brought the Vonage stock to the open NASDAQ market. These underwriters are owed the money for the stock purchased. Vonage is indemnifying the underwriters and paying for all the Vonage stock that customers are refusing to send their money for. The underwriters are the ones that are out money - not Vonage. They are the ones harmed by customers refusing to pay for the IPO they ordered. Vonage has a huge public relations problem on their hands. Don't expect any other companies to do this in the future.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=1106 [zdnet.com]

They have a duty to sue (2, Informative)

PurpleWizard (643191) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443359)

I don't know the details but if they have contractual claims Vongae have a duty on behalf of their share holders to sue.

If I were a director of Vonage and my boss the shareholders could possibly come after me in some manner for negligence if for example the company now sinks. So not only do I want to avoid exposing myself to being unable to be a director (if it were the UK) for a while, prison or huge payouts to the actual shareholders or sue people who were in breach of contract what would I do.

Gosh that is such a tough quesiton.

Any one else noticed how many slashdots turn into debates on the law?

After having to listen to that HORRID..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15443367)

After having to listen to that horrid off-tune jingle for WAYYYYY too long, I finally get my just desserts.

Hoo Hoo, Hoo Hoo Hoo indeed.

M.

Ya pays ya money and ya takes ya chances (1)

karlandtanya (601084) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443388)

Or in this case, ya promises to pay ya money.

Don't know the details of the contract, and the "article" is a blog entry. Ooh, sorry. It's a "forum" not a blog. Copied from the wsj.
Has any competent legal professional actually looked at this situation?
Vonage's position seems to be that these people signed a contract and they're bound by it.

The justification for not paying I'm seeing in the forum is "F--- Vonage. They suck. I'm not gonna pay. Sue me!"
Folks, if that's the best the investors can come up with, it seems that they don't have a very strong position.

Maybe the investors can come up with some justification to void the contracts in court, but short of that, it seems like they agreed to a contract they're going to have to fulfill.

I wonder how many of these people would be crying *foul* if the trading price went UP and Vonage declined to sell the shares?

If any investors are reading this, you've just learned a valuable lesson in finance. Learn it well, 'cuase the tuition is steep:
"Unusual Deal" sounds like a really flaky way to invest. Didn't your mothers ever tell you that when somebody says "Have I got an amazing deal for you!", you run, don't walk, away?
Folks, Vonage isn't the only one doing the sucking here. That's why they call people like you "suckers".
Buncha whiners. You gambled and lost. Pay da house.

And if you don't think you learned a lesson, please post your contact information in reply to this message. Have I got a deal for you! Sure-fire, get rich quick.

Ironic... (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443466)

...They probably started this program (selling shares at IPO price to customers--average Joes not Wall St. insiders) for good publicity, but now that their customers are going to instantly LOSE money when they buy shares at the IPO price, they're getting nothing but bad publicity. I mean, I know there's no such thing as bad publicity, but then ask the record companies how suing your customers makes you look.

Is "ogresque" a word? If it isn't, it is now...

Bad IPO + Good VOIP Service = ??? (2, Informative)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443554)

Is anyone else bothered by all this negative press for a company, who for most part has consistently provided a good service? I hope all this bad IPO talk doesn't reflect poorly on the VOIP service itself, which is still pretty darn good and reliable (not to mention a great value). I guess they say there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Re:Bad IPO + Good VOIP Service = ??? (1)

Frogular (961545) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443622)

I guess they say there is no such thing as bad publicity.

There is, and it's called Amir Tofangsazan.

It's called a contract... (2, Insightful)

SilentJ_PDX (559136) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443557)

Why are all the posts here so negative about Vonage? Maybe it's a bad PR move, but they are definitely justified.

Everyone that signed up agreed to buy the stock despite incredibly dire warnings on the signup screens that the price may go down. If customers wanted to buy the stock only if it went up, they should have bought options [wikipedia.org] .

Wow, this is one further than SCaldera has gone (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443560)

SCaldera has pioneered suing your customers for profit. Not even they have threatened to sue their shareholders/potential shareholders!

Unless Vonage has a written contrat with those people they have no case.

Except in Utah /groan.

Bad Stock + Good Company = Great Stock (1)

thelizman (304517) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443575)

There's a saying on the street that you can have a good company with a damaged stock. A stock really doesn't reflect the worth of a company, so you often wind up with a situation where stock prices go up when they should go down, or stock prices go down when they should go up. The plummet of Vonage stock is likely due to rumor, innuendo, or other social factors. The company itself provides high quality service, has already made it through the development stages, and is now seeking capital to expand. The only better stock than Vonage in this area is VOIP Inc, who sells equipment and service to Vonage. I'd buy a little of both if I had the cash to spare right now.

They are taking a risk if they choose not to pay? (1)

PeeShootr (949875) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443658)

In the article, the spokeswoman for Vonage says,"They are taking a risk if they choose not to pay," Um, if they do pay, their money is already lost! I would take my chances with being sued in hopes that I could pay less than I would lose if I actually paid for that crappy stock!

Risk of the stock market... (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443681)

I am a Vonage customer and was solicited to buy their IPO. The website they used to signup was very informative, and after reading all the risks with their IPO and disclosure of their finances I would have to say that anyone who signed up should have known what a serious gamble they were taking. Shame on them for even thinking about not paying up, shame on Vonage for not collecting the money first!

Worst. IPO. Ever. (3, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443684)

What a disaster.

Vonage decides to "let the little guy in" by offering shares to customers. But it makes the huge blunder of not actually collecting the money, letting the customers merely agree to buy. These are, for the most part, unsophisticated investors who think that getting in on an IPO means free money, and that they always go up.

Now that the opposite has happened these "investors" not only want to walk away from the deal, they want to cancel their service! Here's what one participant said: " I have had enough of this company, refuse to pay for these shares, and am canceling my Vonage service, not because it is not a good service, just because i have lost all faith and trust in this company. "

Leaving aside any questions of his logic or good faith intentions, Vonage has dug themselves a huge hole and jumped right in. And it's going to get worse before it gets better. The only way these people can try to get out of paying is by canceling the service. So sooner or later Vonage is going to have to consider sucking it up and "forgive" all those promises to buy in order to keep their customers. But if they do that the stock plummets, and here comes a class-action lawsuit from the stockholders.

They're taking a risk alright... (1)

Andy Somnifac (971725) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443808)

"They are taking a risk if they choose not to pay"

It looks to me like they're taking a risk either way.

Vonage Sucks, period! (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443830)

I switched to Vonage after using Primus Canada's Talk Broadband for nearly a year. The reason, I didn't like the way Primus treats their customers (I got slapped a $25 NSF charge because of ONE failed attempt to authorize a credit card payment, they didn't even bother to try again (which would have worked), they just automatically billed me).

Anyways, I kept hearing about Vonage, Vonage, Vonage. Every big box electronics store promotes Vonage to death, every website has about a dozen Vonage ads on it. Slashdot and other blog sites is always Vonage this and Vonage that, so I decided to switch to Vonage.

I liked the fact that I could walk into a big box store and buy a $65 VOIP router (that wasn't a DLINK router like what Primus uses, I hate DLINK). After 90 days of service, Vonage will rebate your $65 as an account credit. I also liked to option of buying a VOIP integrated phone system if I wanted at a later date.

Installing and registering Vonage was easy and flawless and I was up and running with a new virtual number in no time while my current phone number was being switched from Primus to Vonage.

Then my love affair with Vonage abruptly ended. As soon as my phone number was switched to Vonage, I started getting frequent telemarketing calls. Primus TalkBroadband lets me set up UNLIMITED blocked numbers list, so every time I got a telemarketing call, I just blocked that number, but it only happened a couple of times on Primus. As soon as I switch to Vonage and my old number became active, I got 6 DIFFERENT telemarketing calls a day from different numbers. So, there is NO DOUBT in my mind that Vonage is giving or selling away their customer contact information to telemarketing firms!

This conclusion also stems from the fact that Vonage doesn't allow you to block calls by Caller ID. I asked their customer support if they would implement that feature, and they simply said they are looking into it (i.e. no, we are not planning to offer that feature, but we will tell you what you want to here). The bottom line is with VOIP, implementing caller blocking is dirt simple. It doesn't require any additional programming or research or development. The FACT that vonage doesn't offer caller block means that Vonage is getting investment dollars from Telemarketing firms and these firms are using Vonage's customer list to make calls. I am even getting INTERNATIONAL Telemarketing calls from European exchanges.

Secondly, Vonage has the ability to charge by the second, but instead, they round up to the full minute. This is an unscrupulous and unnecessary practice because with a completely digital telephony system, there is no reason why you can't bill by the millisecond. The fact they round up to the nearest minutes simply means that Vonage wants you to go over your 500 free minutes and start getting charged per minute OR they want you to get into their unlimited plan (which costs $10 more then MOST competitors unlimited plans including Primus Canada). To exacerbate this fact, Vonage has called me 6 TIMES leaving long messages saying that I should call them back in order to have them explain all the features ( or really, lack thereof ) Vonage has to offer me. These calls are NOT free, they are NOT made through Vonages system (i.e. Vonage doesn't use their own service to contact customers). I did the math and calls from Vonage are being treated as outside calls, thus running up my usage. I found it amusing that Vonage called their customers asking them if they want to buy into their stock. Of course they would, it would eat up a few minutes of any customer that doesn't have the unlimited plan, inching them closer to pay per use.

Lastely, Vonage sucks, period. They are NOT a competitive VOIP service, they are just a shyster company that formed enough partnerships with big box electroncis stores, Google Ads, and telemarketing to ensure that Vonage becomes a buzz word that sticks in peoples heads. When you think of VOIP, Vonage should come to mind. The fact is, there are better services out their and I regret switching from one of them to Vonage.

Primus TalkBroadband offers CHEAPER unlimited plans, Caller blocking by ID, does not SELL your phone number to telemarketing, offers per second billing if your not on the unlimited plan, and has a slew of other features that Vonage doesn't/won't offer (like the fact they mail you the wav file for voice mail notifications).

In 90 days, when I get my rebate back from Vonage, I will switch again to Primus and never look back. Vonage's IPO indicates that more people are realizing that Vonage is a second rate company offering second rate service, and when other companies are doing VOIP BETTER then Vonage, I think Vonage's days are numbered.

END THE MYTH that Vonage defines VOIP. Vonage sucks, period, spread the news. Look for other services because even if you like Vonage, you will find much more happiness with another company. It will be cheaper, offer better services and more features, and you will never regret leaving Vonage!

Why is everyone on the side of the gamblers? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#15443933)

Lets be honest here, not that many people buy stock to truly invest in the future of a company. It is bought in the hope that in the near future it can be sold for a profit.

These people who signed up thought they were going to get cheap stock and a quick and easy profit. They gambled and they lost. Awh. My heart breaks. Now pay up.

IPO's going wrong is nothing new and you always get these middle class people who thought they were going to get something for nothing bithing that now they find out what stocks were originally for. To invest. Long term.

If you didn't think that Vonage would use the 17 dollars to invest in itself and that this would allow it to pay a small return to you the coming years then you are a speculator.

The filth of the modern world. People who rather see a company go bankrupt then just remain steady because a steady stock can't be speculated with.

Remember all those companies that were punished for just making boring profits during the internet boom by seeing their share price plumet? Purely the result of speculators wanting stock to move so they can gamble.

No these people get no sympathy from me. What next, you do not have to pay the casino unless you win?

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