Jaxtr, the dial-around service (see ) that lets you make free calls to those people who have at one point called you via the Jaxtr widget, is launching a new service that lets you bypass the step of first connecting with callers via the Internet.
Now you can make "out of network" calls directly from you mobile phone to anyone in the world. These calls aren't free, though. As in Skype, if you want to use this service to call people on regular phones, you've got to buy credits on the system against them. Rates are either good or great, depending on where you're calling: For example, calling a landline or mobile phone in China is one cent a minute, but a call to a mobile in the U.K. is 15 cents a minute.
In order to make out-of-network calls, you call a central Jaxtr number that's local to you, and then tell it who you want to reach. Then it calls you back and connects you--the typical dial-around procedure. But with Jaxtr, you can save the incoming number and use it the next time you want to reach the same person.
Skype has shown that a free telephony service can turn its free users into paying customers. Jaxtr also has another revenue stream: It has a free SMS service, in which message lengths are even more limited than normal text messages to Jaxtr can insert paid 40-character-long ads at the ends of messages.
Jaxtr is also announcing that it has closed a second round of funding: $10 million, led by Lehman Brothers. Jaxtr's first round was also $10 million, and the initial investors are contributing in this B round.
Jaxtr CEO Konstantin Guericke, who co-founded LinkedIn (and who still owns a piece of that company), believes that phone services are the best way to make money from social networks. "Business happens on the phone," he says, and "the phone is on the path of apps that are monetizable." Certainly, providing a way for users to save money in what is currently a $60 billion market, as international telephony is, according to Guericke, has some potential upside, at least until the telcos lower calling rates to more sensible levels