Dan Borislow: Digital-age inventor whose MagicJack device enabled free online phone calls – and made him millions

 

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The Independent Online

Dan Borislow’s MagicJack helped to pioneer free phone calls through the internet. His  company, MagicJack Vocaltec, has sold more than 10 million MagicJack units, which connect to a computer’s USB port or router to enable online voice calls.

The device was promoted mostly in television infomercials. “Introducing MagicJack,” said one, “the breakthrough device that makes your monthly phone bills disappear.”

Borislow said his invention was borne from desperate times. “I had a smartphone-like idea, in 2004,” he said. “And I tried like hell. At the time, it was a Wi-Fi phone. We went to Taiwan, to where the experts on Wi-Fi were at the time, and we tried – we must have had 30 prototypes of phones. I just couldn’t make it work.

“So I had $13m invested of my own money, I had built up a hell of a telecom network while we were trying to make this Wi-Fi phone work – it was costing almost $1m a month. So I had to come up with an idea, and fast – and really, out of desperation, I came up with the MagicJack.”

An avid thoroughbred horse owner and racer, Borislow won $6.7m in May by predicting the winners of six races at Gulfstream Racing & Casino Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The winning ticket was part of $15,206 in bets Borislow made on the track’s Rainbow 6 betting promotion, according to a report in the Daily Racing Form.

Borislow was born in September 1961 and raised in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. His interest in innovation started when, as a 12-year-old, he acquired a fast lawnmower that enabled him to cut more grass at lower prices than his neighbourhood competitors. He received a bachelor’s degree from Widener University, in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1984.

Before MagicJack, he was the founding CEO of Tel-Save Holdings Inc., a long-distancetelephone-service provider then based in New Hope, Pennsylvania, which he took public in 1995.

LAURENCE ARNOLD AND GABRIELLE COPPOLA  

Daniel Marc Borislow, entrepreneur: born Philadelphia 21 September 1961; died West Palm Beach, Florida 21 July 2014.

© The Washington Post

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