As Sign-ups Surge, FreeConferenceCall Scrambles to Expand

Dave Erickson, head of the nation's second largest telephone conferencing company, knew he had to do something to expand his services when he saw 3,000% growth in some Asian countries hit by the novel coronavirus.

Then COVID-19 hit Italy, spiking sign-ups there as well. The founder of the two-decade-old Long Beach service began putting together a plan to expand their service.


This week FreeConferenceCall announced a group calling number where people can access a dial-in number to share with friends and coworkers. The access code will be the original caller's mobile.

"This will provide conferencing for everyone in the country and give everyone an account," he said. "If the National Guard came in and locked down a one-mile radius around you, my guess is that some people would like to know they had a conference call line."

In the United States, demand for the service has spiked 2,000% over last year as anxiety wracks the country and more people are forced to work at home.

The altered reality has put companies like messaging service Slack and teleconference video company Zoom, which offered their services free to K-12 schools, at center stage as employers send their workers home.

Erickson said he is talking to undisclosed government officials to see what they can do with the lines.

Teleconferencing services like FreeConferenceCall have long been used by megachurches to hold marathon prayer sessions. They've been a lifeline for some during disasters like Katrina, Erickson says. They're even favored during presidential campaigns to gather large numbers of people on the phone, in part because it's free, unlike Zoom and other services.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


"The time for inaction is over."

Such was the through-line in dot.LA's Thursday panel discussion on "Measurably Increasing Diversity in the Workplace."

Joining dot.LA host Kelly O'Grady was Oona King, VP of diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) at Snap and a member of the UK House of Lords, and Kobie Fuller, partner at Upfront Ventures. The conversation centered on what organizations must do to ensure that this moment of acute awareness of the societal issues around DEI does not go to waste.

"I am grateful that white people have woken up," said King, who has also worked in diversity and inclusion at the UK's Channel 4 and YouTube. "But my gratitude will turn back to rage if they go back to sleep."

Read more Show less

Amazon is once again postponing Prime Day, the company's annual sales event, due to the coronavirus. Amazon informed sellers of the delay this week, according to reports from Business Insider and CNBC.

Amazon is tentatively targeting the week of Oct. 5 for the holiday.

Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS

Trending