Fuze Buys LiveMinutes, Expands Cloud Collaboration Portfolio

LiveMinutes' online workspace platform will bring additional features, such as  as persistent group chat to Fuze's cloud-based video conferencing offerings.

video conferencing

Fuze is adding to its cloud-based video and voice conferencing offerings by acquiring LiveMinutes. The move brings distributed team collaboration capabilities to Fuze’s high-definition meetings.

Officials with 6year-old Fuze announced the acquisition May 20, saying the addition of LiveMinutes' portfolio immediately expands the collaboration tools the company can offer as it looks to grow in a rapidly changing and highly competitive market. LiveMinutes' features include an online workspace platform that includes persistent group chat, project workspace, integrated collaboration and document sharing capabilities. “The acquisition of LiveMinutes will definitely differentiate us," Fuze CEO Bobby Yerramilli-Rao said in an email to eWEEK. "There's no collaboration platform right now that does a good job of organizing the conversations, documents, and meetings that span the life of a project. Meetings in particular have been neglected as part of the process."

The combination of Fuze and LiveMinutes will enable "distributed teams [to] drive projects by connecting the communication that happens before, during and after meetings in context of other conversations and documents within an ongoing project. We're inviting meetings to the collaboration party," Yerramilli-Rao said.

No financial details about the deal were released. LiveMinutes co-founder and CEO Kemal El Moujahid will lead product strategy at Fuze.

The acquisition comes the same day that Fuze announced it had raised another $20 million in funding from Hermes Growth Partners.

The video conferencing space continues to transition away from legacy conference room-based hardware systems to software- and cloud-based solutions that can be used on a range of devices, from smaller ad-hoc meeting rooms and PCs to tablets and smartphones. Video also is more often being incorporated into larger unified communications (UC) platforms that include everything from presence and chat to document sharing and instant messaging.

"Video continues to be a key component of collaboration and places high on the list of priorities for many organizations," Petr Jirovsky, research manager for Worldwide Networking Trackers at IDC, said in a statement in March when the analyst firm released its latest quarterly numbers for the video conferencing space. "Among the challenges customers are currently working through are determining exactly when and how to provision their video deployments as more software-centric and cloud-based service offerings become part of the enterprise video market landscape."

The move toward software- and cloud-based offerings is being driven in part by greater workforce mobility, the proliferation of mobile devices, social software and cloud computing. They're not only forcing established collaboration tech vendors like Cisco Systems, Polycom, ShoreTel and Microsoft to expand their portfolios, but also have given rise to smaller companies like Blue Jeans Network and Vidyo, which offer only software and cloud solutions.

"There is a lot of momentum for cloud-based video conferencing as well as live chat and collaboration platforms," Fuze's Yerramilli-Rao told eWEEK. "It's great to see companies finally solving the pain points around easy-to-use, affordable and broadly accessible office communications."

He and other Fuze executives hope the LiveMinutes acquisition will help continue a momentum that has seen the vendor gain more than 100,000 companies in more than 185 countries as customers. These include Groupon, Starbucks, Macy's and Thoughtworks. About 6.5 million people used Fuze in 2014, and almost 2 million minutes of meetings are through Fuze every work day.

There already is a lot to link Fuze and LiveMinutes. Both leverage Box, Dropbox, Google Calendar and Google Drive. Starting May 20, Fuze will pilot an initial integration of the companies' products with several customers, and in June, the vendor will add a feature called Collaborative Notes, which is based on LiveMinutes' technology and will enable teams to track discussions and other tasks beyond meetings.

Other features will come in the following months, with a fully integrated offering planned for general availability later this year, the company said.