ViVu Brings Video Collaboration to Skype

ViVu, which received attention—and $3 million in funding—last fall for its web-based videoconferencing and collaboration platform, today released VuRoom, a plug-in that brings multiple-participant videoconferencing to Skype.

The Java-based VuRoom service costs $9.95 per month to use, and is especially notable for the fact only the person initiating the call needs to download the plug-in. The Skype users that he or she brings into the conference don't need to download any additional software.

The host selects participants from the Skype contact list, and then those contacts receive a chat message with a URL that opens up the videoconference in a browser window. Non-Skype users can be invited to join via telephone and browser, and any user can share slides, videos, and their desktop once they've been given presentaton rights by the host. Hosts can also store their video and slide content in ViVu's cloud for access anytime.

The VuRoom GUI

The service is available for both PC and Mac, and in my tests worked exactly as promised. Of course, it's subject to the same occasional audio and video issues that beset any Skype call. But even with the occasional picture or sound glitch, VuRoom offers a compelling alternative to WebEx or GoToMeeting.

Co-founder and chairman Sudha Valluru, who started the company with Siva Kiran after the two of them worked together at NetDevices, says that the company already counts Thomson Reuters, Cisco, and Amazon among its customers, and is in "deep beta" with dozens of other customers. Amazon has used ViVu's webinar solution for events reaching more than 10,000 users in 80 countries, says Valluru.

In December, Amazon used ViVu to announce the winners of the Amazon Web Services Start-Up Challenge.

That webinar solution differs from other solutions, including WebEx and On24, in that it's entirely web-based, and let's the presenter see thumbnails of every viewer who's "in the room" and has a webcam. Neither presenter nor attendees need to download anything, though a High Quality Streaming Video plug-in is available that offers improved picture quality. The webinar solution offers similar functionality to solutions on the market, including polls, questions, slides, and embedded video.

In October, the company received $3 million in Series A funding led by Inventus Capital Partners, with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Quest Ventures, and Bill Carrico also in on the round.

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