Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Videoconferencing Startup Blue Jeans Network Raises $50 Million

bluejeans-featureLast summer, I did a videoconference that was notable for all the different ways that the people involved with it sought to connect.

I was at home in my apartment in New York, using Skype. Other people were scattered around the country — some were also on Skype; others were in an office in Mountain View using Polycom videoconferencing equipment, and one person was using a Web browser and his Mac’s iSight camera. It was kind of like using an old-school landline telephone: It didn’t matter what kind of phone you used, it just worked.

That’s rare. Most of the time, if you’re going to do a videoconference, everyone has to be using the same service. When you think about it, that makes about as much sense as it once did requiring people to have one phone for one network and one phone for another. It’s kinda dumb, and is probably a reason that videoconferencing just isn’t as common as, say, old-fashioned conference calls.

The meeting I described above was with Blue Jeans Network and, of course, we were using their product. I had another such meeting this week — I can’t even remember exactly how I connected this time — to discuss its latest news.

The company said today that it has secured a $50 million Series D round of venture capital funding. The round is being led by Battery Ventures, with participation from previous investors including Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Norwest Ventures Partners. The round brings its total capital raised to nearly $100 million. The deal was done by Battery’s Roger Lee.

Things are moving fast for Blue Jeans. The company said that it has more than 2,000 businesses using its server, and some three million participants. It’s also on pace to stream about 100 million minutes worth of videoconferences this year. I asked CEO Krish Ramakrishnan how fast that usage was growing. He said that around the time it announced its last funding round — a $25 million Series C — the company was streaming about 24 million minutes a year.

With a rate of growth like that, it’s only a matter of time before Blue Jeans starts to encroach on the business of companies like Cisco Systems and Polycom, who have sought to sew up the enterprise videoconference business for themselves.

Blue Jeans is cloud-based, meaning there’s no equipment to buy specifically for its service. You just use whatever you have, and it works. That gives it a big advantage over the established players, Ramakrishnan told me. “We have taken revenue out of the hands of both Polycom and Cisco,” he said.

The company has disclosed a list of interesting customers, including Facebook, Match.com, Noble Energy, Opower and Stanford University.

So, what is Blue Jeans going to do with all that money? Boost its global footprint, from the standpoint of sales and marketing, and also from a technical one. Ramakrishnan said the plan is to boost its sales presence in Europe and Asia.

He also wants to build more data centers to add more capacity. One hundred million minutes is not enough. “We want to build out the scale to support one billion minutes,” he said.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work