The video chat space is heating up. TokBox, a San Francisco-based Web video communications provider, announced Monday the close of a $12 million Series C round led by DAG Ventures, with participation from existing investors Bain Capital and Sequoia Capital. Since launching in October 2007, the company has raised a total of $26.4 million.
“To date, video chat has taken place in a silo,” said Roelof Botha, partner at Sequoia Capital and TokBox board member, in a prepared statement. “The reality is that meaningful conversations are sparked when users encounter content and experiences they want to share. With OpenTok, video chat can easily be integrated into any Web experience, increasing consumer engagement and we believe, ultimately unlocking the potential of video communications on the Web.”
Obviously, this platform has a wide range of potential applications, from social to commercial, and thousands of people who aren’t participating in the chat can watch it, which presents a number of opportunities for businesses who want to hold training sessions, meetings, and more.
With up to 20 people participating in a video chat, there’s going to be a lot of background noise, so TokBox also provides several solutions such as echo suppression and auto-production, which switches video streams to highlight the person who’s talking.
To get an idea for what TokBox’s platform actually offers, Web users can check out the company’s website where several different apps are currently available for group chatting, including TrendTok, which allows users to chat about real-time Twitter trends; YapMap, a location-based chat application; and FaceOff, a memory game that you can play against other users in a live video setting. The picture above shows me chatting all by my lonesome in TrendTok.
Some of TokBox’s early stage partners include eBuddy, an IM aggregator; The Real News Network, a nonprofit news network; speed-dating site, WinkVid; education service provider, TutorTrove; Assembla, which provides work spaces for distributed software teams; and PokerView, a live poker portal.
“By building live, multi-way video chat into our new debate and discussion page, we can now have our users take part in lively, face-to-face exchanges with each other as well as a live studio panel and audience – just as if they were sitting in a room together,” said Ziggy Jeffery, Co-Director of New Technology and Social Media with The Real News Network, in the company's announcement. “These conversations are the key to having our audience engage with one another and the Web site at an unprecedented new level.”