Gold Sponsors
Array Telepresence Logo   Human Productivity Lab Logo   Ashton Bentley Logo
Silver Sponsors
Bronze Sponsors
Telepresence Options Magazine

Latest Telepresence and Visual Collaboration News:
Full Article:

1:1 Krish Ramakrishnan, CEO, Blue Jeans Network

February 27, 2014 | Telepresence Options

krish ramakrishnan

Story and images by Andrew W. Davis / Wainhouse Research

WR: It's been awhile since we last spoke. In the interim, it seems like everyone in the industry has you in their gun sights. So, let's start with "What's Blue Jeans up to these days" and then get into some of the tough ones.

KR: We've been continuing on our mission to enable high-quality, face-to-face interactions through the cloud. We are capitalizing on a market transition from expensive, on-premise hardware / software video conferencing products to cloud-based services, mostly at the expense of industry incumbents.

WR: OK, motherhood and apple pie. How is it going?

KR: We've seen approximately 500% growth in the past year, with 50% growth in monthly usage and 100% growth in monthly subscribers in just the last month. The service has now been used in over 12,000 cities, in over 200 countries and territories, on all seven continents -- yes, including Antarctica. Our customer base includes businesses of all sizes, shapes, geographies and verticals that use our service every day to host general-purpose, multiparty business meetings which may require any combination of audio, video, and content sharing.

KR: We've seen approximately 500% growth in the past year, with 50% growth in monthly usage and 100% growth in monthly subscribers in just the last month. The service has now been used in over 12,000 cities, in over 200 countries and territories, on all seven continents -- yes, including Antarctica. Our customer base includes businesses of all sizes, shapes, geographies and verticals that use our service every day to host general-purpose, multiparty business meetings which may require any combination of audio, video, and content sharing.

WR: Pardon my rudeness. But much of what you sayisn't a differentiator, and in fact is pretty common today. There are dozens of "video bridge in the sky" and Virtual Meeting Room (VMR) services out there that handle mixed audio, video, and web participants and you don't have to decide in advance how to invite people. Also, the established web conferencing vendors like Cisco WebEx, Citrix GoToMeeting, and Adobe Connect have all added high quality video. So what really is the Blue Jeans story here?

KR: Talk is cheap. It's not about feature checklists and marketing slogans. It's about the user experience. I think that is where we excel. Our quality, reach, and ease of use are second to none. It's why our growth is so high and our retention rates are so strong.

Our design center has always been around the modern general-purpose multiparty business meeting and being able to recreate a face-to-face experience across distance with high quality audio and video. We recognized early on that the face (video) was the centerpiece of the modern meeting, but we also built in rich content sharing for documents, presentations and video clips to make the meeting effective. And to the delight of many of our customers, we didn't stop there. We realized that modern workers want flexibility to control how they participate and consume the meeting content. So we built in robust layout and policy controls. The result is a more flexible product. I think that's why we see the virality that we see within our customers and between our customers and their suppliers, partners, and customers. We didn't set out to cannibalize WebEx or GoToMeeting per se. It just happened. Our customers decided all by themselves that Blue Jeans was a better experience for the regular meetings that they do hundreds of for every one webinar or large presentation.

WR: Blue Jeans made its name by enabling video solutions from different vendors, like Cisco, Polycom Microsoft and Google to "play nice" and connect to each other in the same meeting. But the real story, in my humble opinion, was your Skype connectivity and enabling Skype to talk industry standard SIP and H323 room and personal systems.Recently, Microsoft closed the SkypeKit to external developers. How has this affected Blue Jeans? It looks like you've dropped Skype support. And is it a sign of a future market transition?

KR: Over the last year, we saw Skype's usage by our customer base drop from about 45% of our endpoint mix to less than 1%. This can directly be attributed to the strong market preference for open, web browser based solutions (like WebRTC), which have now grown to over 50% of our mix in the same timeframe. Over this same period, overall commercial usage of the BJN service grew more than fivefold. Today, we handle almost one million minutes a day for our business customers.

At the end of last year, Microsoft requested that we end our use of SkypeKit. Given that Skype had become almost irrelevant to our user base, we agreed to comply. Obviously, all things being equal, we would have preferred to continue to offer customers a Skype option, but given the tiny usage it was not worth a new engineering effort to continue.

At the beginning of this year, we officially ended support for Skype endpoints. This has had almost no adverse impact on our business as we continue to see record growth. In fact, January 2014 was our best month ever, with nearly 50% growth in service usage and 100% growth in new subscribers over December 2013, and we're already up almost 40% in February over January!

WR: Speaking of Skype and Microsoft. What's your position with respect to Lync. Any statistics or opinions you can share with us?

KR: We provide a lot of value to Lync users. It is one of our faster growing endpoints right now, though we see it mostly in our enterprise customers. Simply put, Blue Jeans enables Microsoft Lync to be a more effective collaboration tool, especially for collaboration outside the company. Essentially, we help address some of the biggest challenges customers face when deploying Lync.

� Interoperability with a full range of room video conferencing systems

� Interoperability with non-Lync desktops and mobile devices

� Limited multipoint capabilities within Lync

� Limited data collaboration compatibility

� Federation complexity for any Lync user

You actually wrote a great white paper about it last year. I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking at Lync for video.

One of the most popular use cases we see around Lync is with customers that are both Microsoft and Cisco shops. We are really the only game in town right now to connect Cisco Telepresence, conference room, and desktop systems to Lync.

WR: What trends are you seeing with mobile? Our data suggests that mobile video conferencing is like teenage sex - everybody's talking about it but nobody's doing it

WR: What trends are you seeing with mobile? Our data suggests that mobile video conferencing is like teenage sex - everybody's talking about it but nobody's doing it.

KR: Not so. One-third of all Blue Jeans meetings include one or more attendees participating from mobile devices and we expect that number to continue to grow as more smartphones and tablets are integrated into the workplace.

We now offer both iOS and Android solutions and have seen their popularity skyrocket since we released them. We are investing heavily in mobile development to ensure that we continue to offer the best possible meeting experience from any device.

We are also seeing more situations where people in conference rooms use room systems and complement them with their mobile devices. For instance, they might keep the video feed on the room system screen while viewing and sharing a presentation from their mobile device. We think mobile devices will dramatically shift the paradigm for conferencing and collaboration over the next few years by redefining presence, pairing, and content sharing.

WR: What role has the channel played in Blue Jeans' growth?

KR: The channel has been crucial for us. Almost two thirds of our bookings are generated through our 100+ channel partners today. We have so many great partners who have been selling Blue Jeans as a complement to their existing services. This ranges from top notch AV / VARs like Conferencing Advisors, all the way up to major telecom providers like InterCall and Level3. More recently, we announced a new partnership with Telstra that will be key for our expansion into the Australian market.

We invested early on in our channel by building a direct sales force that could learn how to effectively sell our service. Now, they are able to share their knowledge with our channel partners. By compensating our sales people on channel deals, we have eliminated channel conflict and accelerated the rate at which our channels become productive.

WR: So, do you sell direct to end users at all? WebEx pioneered this dual approach years ago. And if you sell through channels, is it a white label service under the channel partners logo, or does it say Blue Jeans on the cover? Are you worried about brand awareness?

KR: Yes, of course. If two thirds of our business comes through our channel partners, that obviously means the other one-third is direct. We think it is important to maintain this mix because it gives us a direct sense of the pulse of the customer. It helps us be a better channel partner.

We do not white label the service because we believe that the Blue Jeans brand is a stamp of quality that actually helps our channel partners. For some of our larger partners we do some co-branding, but the Blue Jeans brand is always prominent. That's what the customers are buying. Our channel partners are able to provide enhanced services, or bundled offerings (e.g. endpoints), or easier purchase vehicles, but the core service is always Blue Jeans.

WR: Blue Jeans is known for taking a creative approach to marketing. I like the edginess. Anything new and noteworthy you can tell us?

KR: We do try to have a little fun with our marketing. We don't have the big budget that some of the industry incumbents have, so we like to keep things interesting. From fake product videos like Sniff-RTC and The Roominator to edgy billboards, we like to mix it up. This month, for Valentine's Day, we decided to put up what is, to our knowledge, the world's first "Dear John" breakup billboard. The idea behind it was that people want a technology where they can "see other people," which is also a very common breakup line. We believe Blue Jeans is the ideal technology to enable face-to-face conversations because we are first and foremost a video company; but we also have collaboration features, like screen sharing, that support the conversation.

Continue Reading...







Add New Comment

Telepresence Options welcomes your comments! You may comment using your name and email (which will not be displayed), or you may connect with your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or DISQUS account.