Blue Jeans launches "any(ware) video conferencing"

Blue Jeans

Blue Jeans Network came out of stealth mode Wednesday, making the cloud-based, multi-party video conferencing service commercially available. Dubbed “any(ware) video conferencing,” Blue Jeans Network makes video conferencing accessible to pretty much everyone with practically any video-enabled device.

“What was once an elite boardroom technology has moved to the cloud,” said Krish Ramakrishnan, co-founder and CEO of Blue Jeans Network in a press release. Alagu Periyannan, another co-founder is the company’s Chief Technical Officer.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Blue Jeans Network lets remote family members, friends, employees and clients participate in video meetings using Skype and a video-enabled desktop or mobile device.

Here’s how it works: Blue Jeans users each get a private “meeting room” where they can schedule, host and manage meetings through a simple web interface. Participants join meetings by dialing a number or clicking on a link. Since this is cloud technology, there’s no software to download. Users without access to video can still participate in a Blue Jeans meeting over audio from their phone. See it in action here.

I tried it out, and the video quality was great. The latest version of Skype must be installed to connect to the Blue Jeans Network. I even managed to get the user name “Regina,” an indication that not too many people are using the service yet (or my name is just really rare). The user interface is very straightforward and my test dummies, er, friends had no problem joining in the conversation.

Funded mainly by Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Norwest Venture Partners, Blue Jeans Network has raised $23.5 million. Blue Jeans also announced a partnership with Deutsche Telekom, one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies.

The video conferencing market has struggled to keep up with audio conferencing. According to Wainhouse Research, there were 200 million video-conferencing service minutes used worldwide in 2010, compared to 80 billion minutes for audio conferencing services.

The Blue Jeans service has been in field trials since the beginning of 2011. Since mid-April, when the trials were opened to the public, the subscriber base has grown through word of mouth. Blue Jeans claims almost 4,000 subscribers with more than 500 companies represented in 100 countries. Current customers include Facebook, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Heidrick and Struggles, Internet2 and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The company’s Board of Directors is composed of  Matthew Howard, Norwest Venture Partners; Ping Li, Accel Partners; Scott Sandell, New Enterprise Associates; and independent board members Peter Wagner and Charlie Giancarlo.