Blue Jeans Network, one of a growing number of vendors offering cloud- and software-based video conferencing tools, has raised $76.5 million in its latest round of funding from a range of new and existing investors, including retired New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.
Officials with Blue Jeans, which launched its service in 2011, said the new funding—which was announced Sept. 23—comes as the company continues to grow its business across an array of areas, from revenue to subscribers to meeting minutes. The money boosts Blue Jeans' overall financing to $175 million.
Blue Jeans' growth coincides with a rapid transition in the video conferencing space away from expensive and proprietary systems developed by the likes of Cisco Systems and Polycom and toward cloud- and software-based solutions that make it easier for an increasingly mobile workforce to connect into meetings wherever they are and on whatever device they're using, from their smartphones and tablets to PCs or room systems.
Established players like Cisco, Polycom and Lifesize Communications also are rapidly building out their cloud- and software-based capabilities.
"Despite all the advances in modern technology, the human face is still the most powerful tool for business," Blue Jeans CEO Krish Ramakrishnan said in a statement. "As organizations have become more geographically dispersed, the need for video has become more critical than ever to establish and maintain meaningful connections, foster empathy and understanding, and improve communications."
Businesses can increase worker productivity while saving time and money by reducing the need for travel, according to company officials. In addition, they can build better relationships among employees, partners and customers.
Blue Jeans offers a cloud-based video conferencing platform that works with room systems from Cisco and Polycom, desktop and mobile offerings like Microsoft's Skype and Google, and a range of devices. The company's solution gives users a single product for video, Web and audio conferencing, eliminating the need to use different tools from disparate vendors depending on the collaboration mode, officials said. In addition, customers and partners also can embed video collaboration capabilities into their own applications.
Late last year, the company introduced Blue Jeans Primetime, a product that enables users to stream events to large, worldwide audiences and to essentially make any of those views active participants in real time.
Blue Jeans' offerings have fueled the company's rapid growth. Almost 5,000 organizations use Blue Jeans technology, with the list of customers ranging from Facebook and Red Hat to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to Code.org, according to company officials. The company estimates that its products have save customers about 7.5 billion in travel miles, $3.3 billion in travel costs and 2.7 billion pounds of carbon emissions.
The $76.5 million will help Blue Jeans expand its presence in Europe, Asia and Australia and pay for product innovations.
IDC analysts have been following the transition within the video conferencing space as hardware sales give way to cloud- and software-based collaboration offerings. What hasn't changed is the importance of video conferencing to end users, according to Petr Jirovsky, research manager for IDC's Worldwide Networking Trackers unit.
"Video is still a key component of collaboration and continues to place high on the list of priorities for many organizations," Jirovsky said in a statement earlier this month. "And customers continue to work through determining how best to provision their video deployments, as more software-centric and cloud-based service offerings become part of the enterprise video market landscape."
Jeter got involved with Blue Jeans through his work in creating The Players Tribune, a Website that gives athletes a place to voice their thoughts and opinions.
"I was captivated by what Blue Jeans' video could do to amplify the voice of our athletes," Jeter said in a statement. "Now after working closely with the team, I share their vision and see the enormous potential that exists for interactive video events and experiences in business, sports, media, and entertainment."
Other investors in the latest round include Glynn Capital and Quadrille Capital as well as previous funders Accel, Battery Ventures and Northwest Venture Partners.