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Key Microsoft antitrust player to launch telephony start-up

Gary Reback, a lawyer credited with seeding the antitrust case against Microsoft, is teaming with a universal messaging technologist to launch a start-up aimed at Web telephony.

A lawyer credited with seeding the antitrust case against Microsoft is teaming with a universal messaging technologist to launch a start-up aimed at the intersection of Web and telephony technologies.

Gary Reback has left his post as intellectual property attorney with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati to found and become chief executive officer of Voxeo, a start-up in stealth mode in Scotts Valley, Calif. The start-up also will have a presence in Orlando, Fla.

Joining Reback as co-founder of the firm is Jonathan Taylor, who was president of InterResearch & Development Group (IRDG) before becoming chief technology officer of MediaGate, which acquired IRDG. Taylor was responsible for developing iPost, a system for sending voice, fax, email and pager messages to one Internet in-box.

Taylor and Reback plan to target the Web telephony market, which has long been touted as an area of potentially enormous growth. Skeptics, however, say that Web telephony hype has outstripped demand.

Reback, 50, departs for the start-up with major legal accomplishments behind him. He is largely credited with laying the legal groundwork that convinced the U.S. government to bring its antitrust case against Microsoft. He also successfully argued the first software case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, a copyright dispute brought by IBM's Lotus against Borland.

Reback said he would miss his legal work, but that the role of start-up chief executive was irresistible at this point in his career.

"Over the last year or so a lot of my friends have said, 'You have all these enormous networks of CEOs, investors, investment bankers, VCs, technologists and university professors, but you only use them when there's a terrible problem,'" Reback said in an interview. "Terrible problems are interesting, but there comes a time in your life when you think it would be nice to use the networks productively in different ways."

Reback would not give details about the start-up, which he said was in stealth mode, but said he and Taylor plan to tackle the problems they have identified in "the confluence of the Web and telephony."

Voxeo completed a seed round of funding earlier this year. Reback declined to name the investors.

Reback said the government's string of successes against Microsoft had nothing to do with his decision to move on.

"My job with Microsoft was to make people aware of what the problem was and get the government to get involved," Reback said. "That was achieved years ago. Now it's the government's show, which it was meant to be."