The next time you’re starting a video chat on a website, it might be powered by WebRTC, a new plugin-free messaging technology. Video chat provider Tokbox just incorporated WebRTC into its developer platform – but its CEO told me that there’s still a rocky road ahead.
Elance recently introduced video chat to its users as a new feature embedded directly into the site. That will allow employers and contractors to have face-to-face communication without having to open a different application or video chat client.
WordPress bloggers can now embed video chats right into their sites, thanks to a new plug-in from Bay Area-based video chat specialist TokBox. The plug-in is geared towards media sites, making it possible to host talkshows and one-on-one interviews in front of a larger audience.
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Warner Bros. Television Group Partners with AOL for Socialthing; service will incorporate AIM and ICQ to let visitors on sites such as TheWB.com, KidsWB.com and Momlogic.com share and comment with friends. (release)
Tokbox Changes CEOs (Again); browser-based video chat company replaces Nick Triantos with Ian Small. (GigaOM)
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[qi:090] Tokbox, a San Francisco-based start-up that offers browser-based video chat, has lost its CEO, Nick Triantos. He has been replaced by Ian Small. We had heard about this change, and Tokbox confirmed it to me. Small’s bio hasn’t been added to Tokbox’s web site just yet. Triantos had replaced co-founder Serge Fauget in somewhat mysterious circumstances in March 2008. Tokbox has raised $14 million in two rounds of venture financing from Sequoia Capital and Bain Capital.
The company launched in October 2007 by spamming me and others who were invited to test out Tokbox. The company’s video chat service has struggled to find the super-growth that a consumer-oriented company such as Tokbox needs. Tokbox says it has a “user base of over 1 million people who are making over 1.5 million video calls everyday.” According to web-traffic measurement service Quantcast, Tokbox is getting about 62,000 visitors a month, roughly in line with the user metrics reported by Compete.com. I have always been a little skeptical of Tokbox, and frankly, I haven’t seen anything that has made me change my mind.
TokBox, the provider of a simple video chatting service, has raised a $10 million second round led by Bain Capital Ventures, with participat…
Bain Capital must be psychic. Apparently they’ve looked into the future and seen that TokBox, a San Francisco-based startup, will either grow into a large company or find a buyer for what is essentially a Flash-based, in-browser video chat service that’s gotten marginal traction. Sure, the company has a new desktop client that allows you to video chat with anyone, but then so does my iChat.
Bain Capital has led a $10 million investment in TokBox. The move comes less than a month after the company named a new CEO, Nick Triantos, who has worked for many tech firms, but has never before held that title.
The company launched in October 2007 and has thus far raised a total of $14 million from Bain and early investors Sequoia Capital. Scott Friend, Venture Partner at Bain Capital Ventures, in a press release announcing the Series B round, said:
“The company is executing well…We are excited to be investing with our partners at Seqouia in a company we believe has the potential to be the next ‘big thing’ in web communication.”
Just to put his words into context, TokBox recently fired its founder and CEO, Serge Faguet. And according to Compete.com, they had about 179,000 visitors in the month of July, though they did sign a deal with Meebo that stands to get them some traction. (For a list of their competitors, check out NewTeeVee’s round-up of video chat applications.)
From the way I understand it, TokBox is using the built-in video capture capabilities in Flash player combined with the Flash media server to offer in-browser video conferencing. When the company launched, I pointed out that it was an “interesting idea, but more of a feature than a platform for a standalone company or model for a viable, long-term business. If (and that’s a big if) TokBox is going to work, it will need to be rapidly adopted by the marketplace.” Rapid adoption hasn’t quite happened, however, and I wonder if it ever will.
But again, the guys at Bain must be able to look into the future better than us skeptics.
Free online video chat service TokBox has raised a $10 million Series B round of financing led by Bain Capital. Sequoia Capital, which provided $4 million for the startup’s Series A funding, also participated in this second round.
TokBox has worked to expand its reach over the past year, developing its video chat service for web-based IM platform Meebo as well as Facebook, and the company released an Adobe AIR version of its service.
TokBox isn’t alone in this space, IMO.IM is another browser-based video-enabled chat service (founded by ex-Googlers) and Skype offers video calling as well. No one, however, has solved the biggest problem with video chat: webcam placement. Until someone builds a camera behind the monitor, video conversations will never feature eye contact, as everyone’s looking down (and away from the camera) to see the person they’re chatting with.
With the new application, you do not have to be on TokBox’s website to accept or make video calls. Installing is a breeze (something that is common to applications built using Adobe AIR). When installed, it acts like your usual instant messaging application. Just click on a friend or colleague will enable you to do video calling and get immediate notification when someone is calling.