From Simulscribe, To Edison Jr, To Doorbot, To Ring, To Amazon

Yesterday it was announced that Ring had sold to Amazon.

The Gotham Gal was an early seed investor in Ring’s predecessor Doorbot, which came out of an incubator called Edison Jr that she was also an investor in. So it was a nice win for her (and me since we are partners in everything).

But the story I want to tell is about Simulscribe.

Ring’s founder and CEO, Jamie Siminoff, started a company called Simulscribe (now called PhoneTag) back in the early 2000s. I met him around the time USV got started in 2003/2004 and the value proposition for Simulscribe was so compelling to me:

stop checking voice mails, get your voice mails translated and sent to you in email

I loved it and the Gotham Gal and I became early users. We still use the PhoneTag service!!

Jamie tried to get me and USV to invest in Simulscribe a bunch of times, but that never happened. I was worried about the lack of defensibility and other things.

Jamie eventually sold Simulscribe/PhoneTag and started an incubator called Edison Jr.

That’s when the Gotham Gal became a seed investor in Edison Jr in 2012.

Edison Jr launched several projects and one of them really took off. That was Doorbot.

So Jamie shut down Edison Jr and focused all of his energy on Doorbot, which eventually changed its name to Ring.

And now, with the sale of Ring to Amazon, Jamie has finally had his big win.

We kind of knew it was going to happen when we first met him fifteen years ago.

But it took quite a few twists and turns. As these things do.

Jamie has two things that make him an amazing entrepreneur.

He makes great products that solve real problems. Both Simulscribe and Ring are great products.

He has incredible infectious energy and optimism and salesmanship.

As inevitable as this outcome seemed fifteen years ago, it still took fifteen years, endless struggles, and a lot more.

That is the way of startups and always has been.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Dan Epstein

    Great story. Congratulations all around.

  2. Pranay Srinivasan

    Whoa. Congratulations and so much appreciation for The Gotham Gal – who backs people, and sticks by them. Even when everything and everyone is against them.Founders, for all their best intentions (the non asshole ones) can always be misunderstood, kicked and pushed aside in times of failure.But true innovation and grit needs backers and believers – that clarity of conviction is what Joanne brings. Regardless of “who else is in”.

    1. fredwilson

      that she does. it is her great strength.

      1. JamesHRH

        And a great strength to have.

  3. Lawrence Brass

    Building great products take a lot of time.How many times more than the initial estimates can you stand is the test, in my opinion.Congratulations to Jamie and his backers!

  4. JimHirshfield

    I was introduced to Jamie via email back in the late 90’s by Ellen Siminoff (she was at Yahoo…you might know her as board member at Zynga). Anyway, I stupidly asked if Jamie was her sister. Oops, wrong gender…and they’re not even related.{Face palm}

    1. JamesHRH

      Great story.

      1. JimHirshfield


  5. jason wright

    A nice outcome for Jamie.What’s Amazon’s plan?

  6. LIAD

    heartwarming story. love it when the good guys win.

  7. mplsvbhvr

    Congrats to everyone involved – inspiring stuff, great way to start my day. Thanks Fred.

  8. awaldstein

    Great backstory that I rarely get to hear about projects outside of my own.Long road by any standards but a great outcome.Good Stratechery newsletter today on the acquisition.

  9. David

    Fred, it’s great that you’re offering context associated to the struggle. It’s healthy that you take the time to remind everyone that not every successful exit was written on a napkin 9 months earlier. Perhaps most of all, it’s important to remember that there is no single way to exit success.

  10. kenberger

    Amazing, yet expected.I have an email thread between you and me dated October 2007 where we were discussing Simulscribe and investing. It’s a great read!I also have an email from Jamie/Edison Jr from Aug 2012 announcing a product called “pop” that allowed one to plug in a bunch of chargers/gadgets.

  11. John Pepper

    Love PhoneTag and remember when they changed from Simulscribe. I often wish Google Voice would buy PhoneTag because GV is so inferior on transcription quality. Congrats on Ring to the Gotham Gal and the team.

  12. Mike Chan

    Great story of grit and perseverance. I heard that DoorBot’s first product was so bad and garnered so many terrible reviews that Jamie had to do a complete rebrand to erase any connection to that past product. Most would just shut it down at that point.

  13. WA

    Caught this earlier on the wire. That said why did I have a feeling I would see it here today? Desire, faith, definite purpose, imagination, initiative, leadership self confidence – this reads like a text book Napoleon Hill. As so many here do…congrats to you guys and Gal in Gotham.

  14. Vendita Auto

    Good on the man, good timing and brand name change

  15. meredithcollinz

    I love this story – thanks for sharing! So good for the entrepreneurial soul to hear. The “overnight successes” never turn out to really happen overnight. I bet Jamie’s success is all the sweeter after shedding 15 years worth of blood, sweat and tears. Kudos to him – and you and the Gotham Gal for spotting a winner and sticking by him thru the ups and downs.

  16. @mikeriddell62

    Thanks for sharing the story which Rings true to me too!

  17. mgalpert

    Jamie is the best. This video Loic did of him in the Edison Jr garage showing off doorbot is my fave thing

    1. steve cheney

      This is amazing—love the garage

  18. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:It took the keen eye and investor wisdom of Gotham Gal to see the vision. Fred past it up.Captain Obvious!#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent

  19. daryn

    Very cool, congrats to Jaime and to the Gotham Gal and you!

  20. jason wright

    PhoneTag’s website is a bit coy about pricing (or i’m blind). What’s its pricing structure?

  21. JamesHRH

    Own it, like it.Great story.

  22. someone

    Simulscribe was fantastic!

  23. William Mougayar

    I’m a Ring user and love the product.The segment of remote cameras and video monitoring is going to explode further in my opinion.Next, Amazon or Google need to acquire Arlo, another good product.

  24. Donna Brewington White

    A certain NYC VC mentioned Ring to me a few years ago during its infancy and I’ve been watching from a distance ever since, especially since Gotham Gal was an investor and I liked the idea that she was invested in an LA company. (Not to mention that it’s a great concept — obviously.) Was pleased to see her mentioned in the LA Business Journal when Ring raised its A round. I have only had a small amount of contact with Jamie, but happy for him — and of course for GG and you! Thanks for more back story. It is encouraging and a good reminder to keep plugging away when you believe you are onto something.

  25. ellen sing

    I bought the ring doorbell when it came out with the pro. We had a number of issues with it but Jamie and his team were very helpful with their tech support and we ironed them out. I cannot live without my ring, so I am sure a whole lot of others feel the same way. Congrats on your success.

  26. karen_e

    Thank you for believing in all of us. 🙂

  27. JaredMermey

    Stories like this can keep you going

  28. ErikSchwartz

    Wasn’t there also a really early charging hub on kickstarter? I believe Apple killed it by not allowing their proprietary connectors to be used. I backed it, after it died they refunded us all.

  29. Alex Murphy

    These overnight successes are so great to read about!!