Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

FuzeBox, Super Collaboration in the Cloud, Lands $20M From Index and Khosla Ventures

Rare is the occasion that a company I agree to meet with can hold my attention with a product demo for more than half an hour. It happened the other day in a meeting with FuzeBox.

I could tell you that the company does real-time collaboration; meetings, complete with video and the ability to share what’s on the a computer screen; that the technology is both incredibly flexible and incredibly robust; and that the meeting doesn’t crash even if the host loses connectivity (which, oddly enough, happened during the demo). I could tell you that it works on iPhones and iPads.

And yes, you’d probably say you’ve heard all this before. Cisco Systems has WebEx and Citrix has GoToMeeting and, frankly, I spend far too much time attending virtual meetings on those platforms, which haven’t evolved or improved in any meaningful way since, well, since ever.

But you don’t have to believe me: Perhaps you’ll think I’m on to something when I tell you that Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures have just teamed up to make a $20 million Series A investment in FuzeBox. Mike Volpi, a partner at Index, is joining the FuzeBox board of directors.

Jeff Cavins, FuzeBox CEO, kept me interested in the demonstration well past the point at which I usually tell companies to wrap it up. We watched some HD video footage together, and at one point he gave me control of the video — he was in his office in Silicon Valley, and I was in my apartment in New York, so that I could scroll back and forth to different points in the footage, as if we were talking about edits we’d like to make. No herky-jerky waiting for the video to catch up, just smooth scrolling back and forth.

FuzeBox’s secret appears to be the ability to adapt on the fly to the bandwidth conditions of the people using it. You might be on an iPhone, with just a 3G network handy. Or you might be at the office, on the super-fast corporate LAN, or on the Wi-Fi network at home.

Its customers include Amazon, CBS, Verizon Wireless — which also resells FuzeBox to its business customers — and Thomson Reuters. FuzeBox is used to run 78,000 remote meetings per day and has been used in 122 countries.

Basically, if virtual meetings were more like FuzeBox, I wouldn’t hate them nearly as much as I do. That tells me that the established players need to have their worlds rocked by new, cooler, more capable competitors. Watch out, WebEx and GoToMeeting: FuzeBox is coming.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”