Completed first round to total between $2 and $5 million, hope founders, also creators of HowRandom
VoIP and video chat application Veribu has closed a $440,000 round of venture funding from unnamed investors, confirmed by co-founder Jon Cook in a chat with VatorNews this week. The round is just part of what Cook hopes to be a $2 to $5 million Series A. The company first received a $100,000 angel investment last January.
Cook and co-founder Jason Humphries are also the creators of HowRandom, a sort of text-only ChatRoulette for college students. That site, which has attracted over 8,000 users from 400 different schools, is mostly just a social experiment, though. Cook says he has talked to venture capital firms, including Monarch Partners, about its potential as a business, but as of now it is not moneymaking nor do they have plans to make it moneymaking.
Veribu, on the other hand, is definitely a business, as evidenced by its latest venture-backing. The Web-based communications platform lets users video chat, make calls, and text, all without a software download. Some see the service as morphing into a social platform, but Cook says his priority is on the communications side right now.
Of course, what’s communications without mobile?
Veribu is already available for iPhone, but don’t get your hopes up. Because both of Veribu’s founders are mostly experienced in Flash, the underlying framework for Veribu and the famously banned development tool for iPhone, they’ve been able to bring all the main features of Veribu to the iPhone except for the most important one: video.
“I understand why Apple is doing what they're doing, or at least their reasons behind it [open standards and battery life, presumably], but I think it's a mistake,” said Cook, when I asked him what he thought of Apple’s ban on Flash for iPhone development. “They're closing themselves off a little bit too much. and I think they got ahead of themselves because HTML5 doesn't have enough video documentation to do video chats.”
He also noted that Apple actually benefits from startups slow uptake on video chat because of their own proprietary video chat application, FaceTime, which at the moment only works between iPhone 4 users and computers running Snow Leopard 10.6.4.
Veribu for Android, on the bright side, will be making huge strides in the coming months because that platform is open to Adobe Flash. It will be rolling out in stages, with video ready by the end of the month and more versions rolling out into the next year.
“I think Android will surpass Apple devices in 2011,” Cook argued. “If our users know they can have all [of Veribu’s] features on Android and not on the iPhone, they could be persuaded to switch.”
It's already happening.
Veribu, of course, is just one of many mobile VoIP apps. Fring, a free app for iPhone and Android, lets users make 2-way video calls, voice calls and live chat. Still, continued competition between more established services like Skype and Nimbuzz and new entrants like Fring and Veribu only proves that the VoIP space is very much a market that isn’t yet totally tapped.