2/02/2008

Is Ojo/WorldGate Dead?

Regular blog readers, excuse me while I use this blog to contact with other Ojo users across the country, who might find this article via google blog search.

Hey folks. I own an Ojo video phone, and for the last few days the service has been down. I tried to call Worldgate, but all the phone numbers I've found only get a recording on the other end. I see that the Worldgate stock price have dropped over the past months to only pennies a share. I've not been able to confirm if they went out of business, but that is what I assume.

WorldGate Corporate Office, 3190 Tremont Avenue, Trevose, PA 19053


UPDATE 2/5/08: WGAT stock has dropped to .08 cents today, from $1.25 a year ago and .19 cents a month ago.

I also wonder if there is a VoIP back up plan, for those of us that have the Ojo Video phones, but need a plan B for connecting via VoIP. If anyone has any info to share, please make a comment below or email me at sal at texastollparty dot com

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sal,

Fellow Ojo Phone owner here. I did actually speak to a human, but to be honest he knew nothing. The only response he gave outside of the automated message was, "Why would they have me answering the phones, if they were going out of business?"

My feeling is that they are indeed going under but officially they are still there in name

Sal Costello said...

I wish you asked the cleaning guy when they plan on fixing the service, if they were not going belly up.

Sal Costello said...

I got a hold of a former employee. He was surprised to see they don't answer the corporate phone number.

I asked him if 2 ojo's could communicate with each other without the ojo service. He said engineers set them up to accept a new program within the settings. So, it's possible. He promised to call me back soon.

We'll see.

Sal Costello said...

The former employee just called me back.

Man, what a nice guy.

He said he just spoke with someone at Worldgate. It sounds like there could be an announcement OR services restored within 24 hrs or so.

We'll see.

Steven said...

Even if they reconnect the server, whats to say they will stay in business. This was my concern when I first signed up about 2 months ago.

Is there a way to connect to an OJO wihtout going thru their servers?

Sal Costello said...

It sounds like it is possible for them to connect without the OJO server, with a change of program made somewhere within the settings.

Perhaps the engineers will release that info with an announcement? Or maybe that is wishful thinking.

Share any info you've found here.

Thanks
Sal

Sal Costello said...

Now that I think about it...if they are going out of business, there is value in all of us paying $10 a month to continue to use our video phones.

They might be selling that service to another company to pull out some value for shareholders.

Sal

Sal Costello said...

This statement was just posted on the WorldGate website:

Form 8-K for WORLDGATE COMMUNICATIONS INC

The Company is currently in a dispute with its largest customer over the payment of significant monies which the Company believes are owed to it. The customer's refusal to pay such monies has contributed to a shortfall in the operating cash available to the Company to continue operations. Accordingly, on January 30, 2008, the Company shut down its operations as a first step to winding down its business, which will occur if the Company is not able to secure payment of the monies believed to be owed and/or new financing. The Company continues to explore potential financing opportunities and is also pursuing legal recourse against the customer.

The Company would intend to resume operations if it can obtain financing or payment of the monies believed to be owed in a timely manner. Without such financing or the payment of monies believed to be owed, however, the Company will continue its plan to wind down the business.

steven said...

having finished reading the above 8k filling there is not chance this firm will be back in business.

So now how do I make this $300 paper weight connect to another $300 paper weight? Is there anyway to make this happen?

Sal Costello said...

Looks like that large customer is http://www.snapvrs.com/

jammaric said...

This is a shame since I really enjoy using my Ojo. Does anyone know if there's a way to contact the company? Sal Costello, you mentioned that you were able to get a hold a former employee who knew engineers that said it was possible to reprogram these units...any news on that front? If we can somehow contact (and even pay) the engineers that would be helpful. I purchased 3 ojos and now they're all dead!

Sal Costello said...

As I research this issue, I realize it's a political battle between Ojo and Snap (who had the large contract with Ojo for many deaf people).

It looks unlikely that Worldgate/Ojo can come back to life. They damaged their business by burning all their customers.

And, I doubt an engineer would give away an idea (an asset) that was created with company dollars. They would put themselves in legal hot water, with whomever might buy the company.

Perhaps another company might buy Worldgate and provide the service someday, but that involves bankruptcy and legal steps that can take some time.

Just my 2 cents.

So, give it time. What other choice do we have?

NanG said...

Can't we just use OJO throught a company like Packet8 you mentioned? If we call any VOIP company can't they run on their lines? I'm a level 1 mom :) as you can tell, my kids just want to see far away granny. Any suggestions? Thanks-

Sal Costello said...

I spoke with Packet8 yesterday. Ojo is unique hardware, and at this time it won't work with P8 (or anyone else).

I think it really comes down to the fact that connecting these phones is an asset, and that will need to be sorted out first - before we'll see a solution.

Sal Costello said...

The Philadelphia Inquirer

WorldGate Communications Inc. shut down in Trevose last week.
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Founded in 1995 by Hal M. Krisbergh, the company developed a video phone but had made few inroads in the competitive market.

According to an SEC filing yesterday, WorldGate has been in a dispute with its largest customer, which has refused to pay. Short on cash, WorldGate said it ceased operations "as a first step to winding down its business."

WorldGate has been in penny-stock territory since late 2005, when its price slipped below $3. Shares closed at 8 cents yesterday, down 7 cents.

Sal Costello said...

I've yet to do so, but, in the meantime you could check out skype.com
for video phone communications...

NanG said...

Thank you Sal! I was glad to find you...I'll keep checking back for updates :)

NanG said...

I left a message with customer support at skype to get to the tech. department to ask if OJO is compatible with their system...
I'll let you know what I find out if anything.

Anonymous said...

SnapVRS has a special software on the Ojo for their own customers. The special software includes the H.323 video capabilities which allow them to communicate with other non-Ojo users.

Assume that SnapVRS is the WorldGate's largest customer, and if you think that SnapVRS' fault of not paying the "bills" to cause everything going down in the drain.

If WorldGate wants to blame SnapVRS, they could simply turn it off on SnapVRS' database only and blame on SnapVRS. And, continue the operation for other paid customers who are not part of SnapVRS.

Apparently, it isn't the case. WorldGate has performed poorly in business and decides to blame entirely on SnapVRS.

Just my .02c

Sal Costello said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest the Ojo would work with skype. Ojo will NOT work with Skype.

But, Skype has a cost efficient solution for video phone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the info Sal.

My family has 3 Ojos, and my wife just bought an Ojo for her family about 2 weeks ago. I wonder if there is a market for these Ojo Phones (especially if they are new).

Like you said, I guess we'll have to wait and see if someone else picks up this Ojo service

Anonymous said...

My guess is Worldgate is playing a blame game here. SnapVRS CEO, Richard Schatzberg has addressed a letter to his customers. You may want to direct your attention to www.snapvrs.com. As the CEO stated that SnapVRS are current on their payments. What are the game here that Worldgate Communication is doing?

THanks

Anonymous said...

This is a familiy emergency for me - my wife misses her parents in Korea terribly and the two Ojo's have been the only personal link they can share over the past 1.5 years we've been married due to the long distance. Please, if anyone finds out anything please let me know, I am willing to pay more if i have to restore the service.

David

Axl said...

Contingency plan: Skype. If hardware is missing on either end, consider the Asus eeePc.

Anonymous said...

It's an emergency here too. My mother won't move from her too-remote location, and the Ojo was the only link we children have to see her frequently and make sure she's doing OK. It's important because she always says everything is fine; it's good to see her and know it really is.

Anonymous said...

Are there non-computer alternatives? My mother refuses to have a computer in her house, which is why the Ojo was so great. Thanks for any advice!
Marlene

Anonymous said...

http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1030058/000110465908007026/a08-4637_18k.htm

According to the EDGAR system at the SEC Worldgate has not announced bankruptcy, simply that an event has occured. This is not the first time that Worldgate has filed this same form.

They are not the only Video over IP company, just the most affordable one. (for full motion/quality).

So they are not out of business, they are either scapegoating SNAP!VRS to get
1. more money
2. means to file bankruptcy

jtoast said...

Whatever the legal/business technicalities, they have snubbed all their customers with not so much as an apologetic message, or announcement on their website. Like all OJO owners, I have invested a lot of money in the hardware for this service - which is now seemingly defunct.

The total lack of communication from the Worldgate company has left me feeling like they don't give a crap about their customers. They simply just switched the service off. Even if they did turn the service on again, i would have now have no confidence that it would stay on. The only satisfactory solution for me now is to find a way to make these work without the need for their service.

If anyone can post any pointers as to how one might go about using the OJO phones without the ojo service, i would very much like to hear it. I know a fair bit about computer programming, though I would have no idea about how to go about accessing/changing the software that runs the OJO. Any advice to that end welcome!

Anonymous said...

World gate is in deep hole. They re blaming it on whoever they can. Let's see, so far they have been shooting themselves in the foot.

Sal Costello said...

Worldgate: Shut down

By CRISSA SHOEMAKER DEBREE
Bucks County Courier Times

WorldGate Communications, maker of the Ojo personal video phone, has shut down operations as it seeks payment from its largest customer.

In a statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and on WorldGate's Web site, the Bensalem company said it stopped operating Jan. 30, “as a first step to winding down its business, which will occur if the company is not able to secure payment ... and/or new financing.”

While WorldGate didn't name the customer, Snap!VRS, which provides video relay services for the hearing impaired, confirmed it was that customer in a letter on its own Web site. It also disputes WorldGate's statement.

“We are current on all payments and do not owe WorldGate any money,” Snap!VRS CEO Richard Schatzberg said in the letter. “We feel so strongly about our position and are so intent on resolving this matter swiftly, that we have offered to submit this disagreement to immediate binding arbitration, a process by which an independent third party decides who is right. WorldGate has rejected this offer.”

WorldGate CEO Hal Krisbergh declined to comment Thursday afternoon when reached by cell phone.

“I would like to, but there's a lot going on that I can't get into,” he said. “I'd really rather just stay with our public announcement.”

In the meantime, all Ojo phone service, which was provided by WorldGate, is down.

Krisbergh founded WorldGate in 1995 to develop products that would provide Internet services through cable, such as Web TV. But the concept never took off, and by 2002 the company was failing. It liquidated all its assets and poured them into developing Ojo. Motorola agreed to distribute the phone, which went on sale in May 2005.
click here

In February 2006, WorldGate and Motorola ended that arrangement and WorldGate took on sole responsibility for getting Ojo into stores. At the time, Krisbergh indicated WorldGate was unhappy with Motorola's high pricing, which it felt kept the product out of major retailers and out of reach for most households.

Upon taking control of Ojo retailing, WorldGate slashed the price by $300, introduced a cheaper Ojo with fewer features and pursued national and international distribution deals.

In June, WorldGate and Snap! trumpeted a deal to provide Ojos to deaf and hearing-impaired customers, who traditionally use interpreters to hold telephone conversations.

WorldGate has struggled financially since its inception. It's never turned a profit and the company has never released sales figures for its Ojos. For the quarter that ended Sept. 30, the company reported a $2.7 million loss.

Sal Costello said...

FEEL SCREWED LIKE I DO?

Wordgate is run by Hal Krisbergh.
Hal had no response when a reporter got a hold of him for an article that just came out.

This is an insult to our families who have paid a lot of money for ojo's.

This is his home address:
1538 Meadowbrook Rd
Jenkintown, PA 19046

If you use google maps you can see a picture of his mini-mansion using "street view".

Public records state he and his wife Audrey purchased the home in 1992 and it is worth about $750k.

CALL HAL AND AUDREY TODAY AND ASK THEM WHY THEY ARE PLAYING POLITICS AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR FAMILIES:

(215) 885-5855

Anonymous said...

I am writing a letter to Hal Krisbergh (CEO of Worldgate) at the address below asking him to just turn the service on so we could use the Ojo. Ofcourse, we'd all be still paying $10/month.

If everyone who owns an Ojo writes to him explaining why we like the Ojo so much and what it means to us, I am hoping something may work out.

Rob in New York City said...

I have been an OJO customer for over 2 years with 3 units in service. I use this service to speak to and see my 3 Granddaughters (ages 6 months to 2 1/2 yrs old) (2 in Houston & 1 in New York).

I sincerely doubt that OJO will be back up and running soon.

Does anyone know of another service that I can use that will also use our exsisting equipment?

Otherwise, I just might have to get a basic "web-cam" so I can see my granddaughters again.

Please let me know.

Rob in New York City

Anonymous said...

Worldgate might be selling the ojo to a bigger firm. This issue may not be SNAP!VRS related, months back 8x8 (packet8) slashed the price for their video phone, but of course the service cost makes it equivalent to more expensive videophones (but most people will not notice the service charge, and service requires a PBX for video over IP and digital lines, so how much overhead is their really). Not to long after the price slash WGAT filed a Form-8C announcing officers were leaving.

May not be related, but the timing seems like it.

Either way I am considering Polycom products, but these are too expensive for the general public. They use peer-to-peer connections with no need of a service to run. They also work for leased lines. I have a network of 12 ojo's (some for family), I don't like to be held hostage by a 3rd party. It just winds up costing more.

I may pursue legal action against worldgate (and their patents)

jncutt said...

Folks, I am not sure if you are aware there is an alternate way you can still use your Ojo to make calls. It must be IP based kind. We all know phone numbers will not work due to being shut off. I have been using this to make ip based calls and it works. Here what can be done to your Ojo phones.

Go to Main Menu button
Go down to Connection Button
Go to Advanced button
Go to NAT Traversal
Change from STUN to Passive
SAVE (press left arrow)

Connection button again, and reset your connection.

Then you will be able to use IP-based calls.

THe Ojo may be rebooting over and over but just hit the "end" button and and just place in an ip number and hit the talk button an it will ring. Sometimes, I have to reboot over if dial out is not sounding right it may be from a glitch but it does not happen often. Bottom line is you can get to call your loved ones. Use this until Worldgate COmmunications get to turn it back on. Try it out

Good Luck!

Sal Costello said...

Jncutt,

I assume this is a call with audio only and no video?

Thanks
Sal

jncutt said...

Sal - this is with video as well.

Thanks

jncutt said...

Sal - I jsut realized I have a h.323 installed in my OJo as well from Aequus. That is what I am able to view video via IP based.

James said...

Jncutt/Anyone

How would one go about getting h.323 installed in an OJo?

Thanks for any info!

Anonymous said...

from ojo website;
Announced extended Ojo capability to interoperate with various video phones and soft clients using previous generation communications protocols and video and audio codecs, specifically, enabling Ojo to communicate with video phones using H.263 and G729 video and audio codecs and enabling utilization of the H.323 communications protocol. This added functionality also provided the ability for video phone calls to be made between an Ojo and PCs with web cam capabilities.

guess this never happened?

Anonymous said...

Jncutt,

How wouold I place a call using IP numbers ?

Thanks
JOEL

Ojo-User said...

Joel,

You can't use IP-based Ojo because it has not been installed on your ojo UNLESS you have aequus-version which you can find on system information.

Ojo User

James said...

Which just leaves the questions:

- how can we can a copy of the aequus-version software

- how can we install this on our ojo's?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any info to share about alternative video phones? Are there any out there that will give me video/sound similar to that of OJO?

Anonymous said...

... AND which do not require a computer (which my mother won't tolerate!).
Marlene

Sal Costello said...

I just called Sanp.

h.323 is old technology. SIP is the new stuff we need.

BUT Snap cannot help us until

1) They resolve the dispute with Wordgate is settled (they say they "hope" it can be resolved, but would not tell me if that would be days, weeks, months or years - I asked)

or

2) Worldgate goes out of business. If they go out of business, we can go to Snap, after they have a plan B to offer.

Thanks
Sal

Anonymous said...

WGAT is not going out of business. SNAP has a lot to gain by forcing WGAT out of business, as they can, no pun intended, "snap them up" cheap. Yesterday I posted some info on SNAP and Company:

http://www.mediafire.com/?bltjbhmg1mh

http://www.mediafire.com/?6lypbntb7uf

The second article is an updated complaint from a suit against SNAP, that really just started picking up steam on January 29th. Coincidence?

WGAT will have services back online again soon. One only needs to look at the way the stock has reacted since the K-8 filing...it has held strong, with minimal volume. Most of the volume has been buy orders, not sell orders.

In the meantime, I am completely bummed without my Ojo. Patience in the short term though...will pay off. It should all be ironed out very soon.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to bypass the OJO server? I can call out using passive method under NAT Traversal. Is there a way that someone can call me?

Anonymous said...

Could you please post your ideas to www.theojocollective.com.

It looks like there are people posting to that site who are brainstorming on how to get our OJOs to work again.

ufo said...

TODAY'S NEWS:

WorldGate receives notice of default

Bucks County Courier Times

WorldGate Communications of Bensalem, the financially struggling maker of the Ojo video phone, announced in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it's in default on a bond agreement.

YA Advisors, which holds convertible debentures — bonds that can be converted into shares of the company's stock — said the company is in default for failing to maintain current financial statements. As a result, the group is demanding payment of $6.7 million, including interest, the full value of the bonds.

Earlier this month, WorldGate announced it was shutting down operations because it hadn't received payment from its biggest customer, Snap!VRS. In a competing, statement, Snap!VRS said it didn't owe WorldGate any money.

WorldGate said it's disputing the default notice.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to register with the Ojo collective to post comments at least 8 times and have never received an email with a password. Do they pick and chose who they allow to register?

Anonymous said...

Hey... try your Ojo's they're working again!

My brother just noticed his cable was unplugged and somehow recently the service is back up.

We talked, and I Ojo'd my father in law, my mom, and my sister in law... all via their separate Ojo's.

Great news.

I hope it lasts.

NanG said...

It is TRUE! I was on the phone with OJO for about 45 min. :( to get mine up and running again (not sure why) but it WORKS! Yea US!!!