Mountain View, Calif.-based Blue Jeans Network has secured $76.5 million in new financing in what widely assumed to be a pre-IPO round.
The start up burst onto the video conferencing and communication scene in 2011 with a cloud-based offering that connects business conference room systems like Cisco and Polycom to desktop and mobile apps like Skype and Google,
Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA) led the round with participation from previous investors Accel Partners, Battery Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners, and new investors Glynn Capital, Quadrille Capital, and Derek Jeter (yes, that Derek Jeter) among others.
With this funding round Blue Jeans has secured about $175 million all together from investors.
Watching His Words
CEO Krish Ramakrishnan doesn’t call his company’s latest capital raise a pre-IPO round, But Jon Sakoda, general partner at NEA, does in a press release.
Ramakrishnan's preferred term is mezzanine finance, the type of capital that is tapped by later stage companies.
Still, though, he easily acknowledges that the investors participating in this round are companies that typically invest in pre-IPO and post-IPO companies. "We have been on a great tear and the market realizes that," he told CMSWire.
From Cisco to Skype, Via The Cloud
It is easy to see why: Blue Jeans' offering is an end run around some of the biggest pain points in the telecommunications space — integration and the proprietary approach of most legacy offerings.
This is roughly how Blue Jeans did it, Ramakrishnan said.
"We built a cloud infrastructure consisting of a number of servers that are able to take the individual streams of video and convert them into whatever format the end point requires in real time."
So a, for example, Cisco end point will receive a video via Blue Jeans' platform but that Cisco end points thinks it is talking to another Cisco end point, Ramakrishnan said.
"With our Google-style architecture, we are able to imitate the properties and vagaries of the Cisco endpoint."
How exactly that happens, he said, is the company's secret sauce, as is the way it has managed to scale along with its growth, incidentally.
Today, the Blue Jeans supports more than 1 billion minutes of real-time video collaboration to more 25 million participants around the world.
Since its launch Blue Jeans has gone on to offer other products aimed at its growing corporate user group.
It rolled out a converged conferencing offering, a single tool and interface to manage audio, video, and web conferencing activities, most of which are provided by different vendors.
More recently, it has introduced APIs that allow users to embed interactive videos in such applications as Salesforce Chatter and their own internal workflows.
Blue Jeans reports that these APIs are being used by healthcare, training, and call center companies.
Then came an entirely new product line, Blue Jeans Primetime, which offers interactive streaming capabilities for events.
It is a great way to generate a back-and-forth with a virtual and otherwise passive audience, Ramakrishnan said, as the moderator can switch from being an active participant to a passive observer as the audience members speak.
It was Primetime that caught Jeter's eye. Newly retired from baseball, Jeter was in the process of launching The Players Tribune, a media site in which athletes tell their own stories directly.
Jeter loved the interactive ability of Primetime and eventually became a fan of all of Blue Jeans' offerings, Ramakrishnan said — and then an investor.
Other users include Facebook, Sephora, Red Hat, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Code.org.
Global Growth; Sales and Marketing
As for the new proceeds, Ramakrishnan said he plans to use those to continue the company's growth.
He would like to see the product line make further inroads globally as well as invest more money in its sales and marketing operations. And of course, to continue to build out its product line up. "We are always looking to innovate," he said.