Blue Jeans Network $50M VC Funding Sets Up Startup For UC 'Big Leagues'


Blue Jeans Network has secured $50 million in its latest round of investor funding, money the company says will push it beyond its scrappy startup days and into the "big leagues" of the business collaboration and unified communications (UC) market.

The $50 million round of funding was led by venture capitalist firm Battery Ventures, with participation from previous Blue Jeans investors including Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Norwest Venture Partners. It puts Blue Jeans' total investor funding to-date at roughly $100 million.

Stu Aaron, chief commercial officer at Blue Jeans, said the funds will be used to fuel the company's sales and marketing efforts, as well as its international expansion. Just as importantly, though, the funds mark a turning point for Blue Jeans, he said.

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"It represents a significant milestone for the company," Aaron told CRN. "It represents, if you will, an ascension into the big leagues, as we transition from being a buzzy startup and disruptor to a significant player the UC and business collaboration space."

This new round of funding comes as Mountain View, Calif.-based Blue Jeans is experiencing record growth, Aaron said, with more than 3 million users now leveraging Blue Jeans' cloud-based meeting room service.

According to Aaron, Blue Jeans has also managed to capture more than one-third of the video conferencing services market since its formal launch in June 2011. The bulk of these market share gains, he said, are at the cost of videoconferencing and UC incumbents like Cisco and Polycom.

The reason for this, Aaron explained, is that Blue Jeans' videoconferencing service is hosted via the cloud, meaning it eliminates the need for multipoint control units (MCU) offered by more traditional UC players like Cisco and Polycom. In fact, he said, Blue Jeans estimates that it has eliminated the need for between $150 million and $200 million worth of MCU sales in the past year alone.

Blue Jeans' differentiates its videoconferencing service as being "built from the cloud up," consumed as a hosted service that allows users to host, schedule and manage their own videoconferences via a Web interface. The service is also interoperable, so it can work across different video and audio protocols, bridging the gap between systems such as Cisco TelePresence and Skype.

In June, Blue Jeans marked its two-year anniversary with the launch of Blue Jeans 2.0. The second-generation service includes a number of updates, including one-click access to join meetings, new in-meeting controls for managing sound, layout and participating rosters, along with the ability to schedule Blue Jeans meeting directly from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.

Blue Jeans 2.0 also lets administrators set up group-level permission controls to define which specific endpoints are available to users.

Blue Jeans has been steadily building up a channel presence over the past two years. Aaron said the company now has between 60 and 70 partners worldwide, including traditional A/V integration VARs, managed services providers and OEM partners. Aaron said some of the new investor funds could be used to fuel channel growth, as well.

"With the new funding and the international expansion, in particular, I think you'll see quite a bit more [partners] as we move forward," Aaron said.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 19, 2013