Ka-ching! Blue Jeans scoops up $76.5M in funding

Collaboration in general, and video collaboration in particular, is an area of massive opportunity. Today's funding round for Blue Jean proves that point.

Blue Jeans Network, perhaps the worst-named technology vendor of the current bunch, is focused on video communications. Blue Jeans offers a cloud-based video platform that aims to deliver a bridging technology that is agnostic to the end solution being used. It works with the existing enterprise endpoint incumbents, like Cisco and Polycom, as well as the more consumer-focused videoconferencing solutions from the likes of Google and Skype.

The company, launched in 2011, has grown impressively and has, for the fourth straight year, delivered record metrics across bookings (ARR), revenues, subscribers, meetings, minutes and participants. Of course, that's relatively easy to do off a small base, but when you consider that Blue Jeans provides over 1 billion minutes of video service, across 25 million participants, that growth is put into perspective.

All of that growth is, of course, predicated on funding to fuel it. The current model for most high-growth companies is to pour money into marketing and business development and forgo profits in the short to medium term. This is the methodology that can have some unintended consequences, as the recent IPO of high-growth-but-no-profit vendor Box showed. That said, Blue Jeans is on a trajectory and has no real option but to keep fueling the fire.

The fire got a heap of fuel today with the announcement of a new $76.5 million funding round from a plethora of investors. The new funding was led by NEA, with participation from previous investors Accel Partners, Battery Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners, and new investors Glynn Capital, Quadrille Capital and Derek Jeter, among others. This round takes total funding to date to $175 million.

According to the company, much of this round is targeted at further internationalizing the company, in particular, a market expansion into Europe, Asia and Australia is on the cards. That broadening makes sense; currently Blue Jeans boasts of 5,000 customers, across many verticals: healthcare, education, technology, media and entertainment. Customers include Facebook, Sephora, Red Hat, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Code.org.

Of course since Blue Jeans' founding, the existing players have gotten a dose of the interoperability Kool-Aid and have broadened their support. Whereas in the past solutions were tightly constrained to proprietary hardware/software platforms, there is a growing awareness that cross-platform support, as well as a seamless continuum between audio, video and Web conferencing is needed. Whether Blue Jeans can continue to justify and prove its point of differentiation will be an interesting thing to see.

The company is thinking about this need and has broadened to being more of an infrastructure player of late. It has gained traction for its underlying platform and APIs, which allow customers and partners to embed interactive video capabilities into their own applications and workflows. One proof point of the success of this strategy is that Blue Jeans has been embedded in popular applications like Salesforce Chatter. The company has also introduced a new product line, Primetime, that aims to fulfill the needs of mass broadcast events. Primetime has been used by TED, the Sundance Festival and The Players' Tribune.

Blue Jeans is an interesting vendor to watch. Its massive payday only makes that more so.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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