An experienced telecommunications executive and the founder of Telco Communications Group, Inc., Donald Burns is the chairman of the board of directors of magicJack. In this capacity, he oversees all operations at the Voice over IP (VoIP) provider, which allows customers to make local and long-distance calls using a high-speed Internet connection. Since its initial product launch, magicJack has sold more than 10 million units, and its Telephone App/Softphone is downloaded millions of times every year. The company has also secured multiple patents in the United States, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Japan, and Israel.
After joining the board of directors of magicJack in 2010, Don Burns accepted an offer to become the chairman in 2012. Under his leadership, the company won the 2013 Frost & Sullivan Consumers’ Choice Award for Best VoIP Service Provider, due to its achievements in five benchmark areas: quality, ease of use, billing practices, pricing, and overall value.
As an organizational leader of the telecommunications company and its Dial & Save subsidiaries, Burns significantly decreased home phone bills for millions of customers by offering long-distance connections at 25 to 50 percent below the standard rates of AT&T, Sprint, and others. Telco operated by leasing calling capacity from the major carriers at wholesale prices. Customers did not have to switch their home phone carrier to use Telco. They simply dialed a five-digit access code to place long-distance calls, and the charges automatically appeared on their monthly phone bill. With this innovative, easy-to-use service, the company broke the long-distance monopoly previously held by AT&T.
Over the course of just three years, Donald Burns helped Telco to become a leading long-distance service provider in the United States. In 1996, the company’s revenue exceeded $428 million—nearly double that of the previous year. In 1997, Burns sold the company to Excel Communications for $1 billion in cash and equity. The merger created a new company with a customer base of more than 6.3 million people and revenues totaling more than $1.5 billion. As a result of the deal, Telco stockholders received around $15 in cash and three-fourths of a share of Excel stock for each Telco share. After the sale of Telco, Burns spent several years with the media and VoIP technology company YMax Corp.
Don Burns launched his career in the telecom industry at ATX Communications when it was created following the breakup of the Bell System in the 1980s. He also served as director of operations, and then as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Mid-Atlantic Telecom during the earlier years of his career.
In recent years, Donald Burns secured a 33 percent ownership stake in a shipyard. Additionally, he played a central role in the construction of a charter yacht that represents a promising business venture in development. He has also invested in the Razor House, an architecturally iconic estate near San Diego, California, designed by Wallace E. Cunningham. The property is available to rent for photography shoots, as well as film and television productions.
Along with his achievements in the telecommunications industry, Don Burns is known for his philanthropy. He is the head of his own charitable foundation, which provides financial support to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, including the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute, a non-partisan educational and research organization that offers training to members of the LGBT community to help them run for political office.
The Donald A. Burns Charitable Foundation has also contributed to Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket, which provides physical, psychological, and spiritual care for individuals with life-threatening illnesses; and God’s Love We Deliver, which offers healthy, individually-tailored meals to people who are homebound. A few of the other organizations the foundation has supported include the Town of Palm Beach United Way, Oxbridge Academy, Daniel E. Ponton Fund for the Neurosciences, Sustainable Nantucket, and the Sumba Foundation.
In addition, Burns’ foundation has provided grants that have allowed schools in Mississippi, Florida, and Massachusetts to build computer labs, buy instructional materials, and create athletic programs that serve urban youth.