Former Microsoft and Yammer executive-led startup FuzeBox has raised $46m in funding to help it to stake a claim in the growing enterprise video conferencing market.
FuzeBox revealed that it is receiving $26m in Series B financing, after confirming that it had recruited three former Yammer executives, including Mary Pecka as chief customer officer, Georg Ell as vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Jonathan Grant as vice president of finance. The company has now secured a total of $46m in funding for the freemium cloud-based video and conference calling service, since launching in 2009.
Newly appointed Ell, who has held roles at both Microsoft and Yammer, told V3 the three new executives chose to leave Microsoft as they believed it was missing a golden opportunity to expand its video conferencing services.
"We considered staying – Microsoft is going through some changes and that could have been interesting – but we wanted to go back to a small organisation for personal reasons career-wise. The opportunity here at FuzeBox was quite unique. We looked at the available market for a new company and there's a huge opportunity for disruption. The big players here have left an awful lot of value on the table as the solutions are all too complicated, or too expensive and simply not reliable," he said.
The news follows confirmation by Microsoft that it will integrate the more established cloud-calling service Skype into Lync. Ell believes that even with the more established competition, Skype's consumer focus and Lync's less than friendly user interface, means it is unlikely that Microsoft will be able to capture control of the whole video conferencing market.
"Microsoft bought Skype – a great consumer company – but I think they have a different focus. I think they are quite public about integrating Skype together with Lync and that'll be a big project over the next couple of years as they make sense of that for the enterprise," he said.
"I'm sure they'll do very well, they'll certainly be a player in the space we're in, but I still think there's room for another approach. We're offering up more of an Apple-like modern user interface designed to make people connect with it."
Ell's comments hold some weight, with numerous companies including Starbucks, NASA, Ogilvy & Mather, Kellogg's, and General Motors already having signed up to use the conferencing tool. Ell's comments follow several Skype expansion announcements. Most recently Skype fully integrated with Microsoft's Outlook webmail service in the UK.
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