Commentary

Verizon Dons Blue Jeans, A Business Videoconferencing Platform

Verizon Business is buying BlueJeans Network, a subscription-based conferencing and event platform targeting the work-from-home market as well as telemedicine, distance learning and field service work. 

“Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed by the companies. CNBC reported that Verizon will pay about $400 million for BlueJeans, while The Wall Street Journal reported the price as under $500 million,” writes  CNET’s Carrie Mihalcik.

“The deal comes as a record number of workers and students log on remotely using videoconferencing tools including Zoom, Cisco Systems Inc.’s WebEx and Microsoft Corp.’s Skype,” writes  Sarah Krouse for The Wall Street Journal.

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“‘Previously people were shy on camera. People thought people working from home were not effective. All of that has been’ dispelled, said Krish Ramakrishnan, co-founder and executive chairman of Blue Jeans. BlueJeans, the company’s brand name, is aimed at business, rather than consumer users, with encrypted videoconferencing. It has 15,000 customers and isn’t available free to consumers as services such as Skype and Zoom are,” Krouse continues.

“In mergers and acquisitions, the parties will often go to such lengths as using code names and meeting only in person to help keep the discussions under wraps. In this case, deal negotiations between Verizon and BlueJeans took place over a number of BlueJeans videoconferences, spokespeople for both companies confirmed,” writes  Bloomberg’s Tara Lachapelle. 

“The CEOs for Verizon and BlueJeans may not have been able to seal the deal with a handshake, but they can at least say that striking their own transaction over video chat is a testament to the service. Walt Disney Co. Executive Chairman Bob Iger reportedly uses BlueJeans for video calls with staff, too,” Lachapelle continues.

“BlueJeans co-founder and Executive Chairman Krish Ramakrishnan said the deal was negotiated during the last three months,” write  Reuters’ Supantha Mukherjee and Munsif Vengattil.

“‘This is the new norm,’ he said, referring to how the deal was clinched in a virtual setup that also included the use of e-signatures,” they add.

“BlueJeans has more than 15,000 customers, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Red Hat, Intuit, Zillow and Nordstrom. The enterprise clientele points to the fact that BlueJeans is considered highly secure and offers end-to-end encryption -- a feature that has helped distinguish the platform from many of its rivals. Most notably, Zoom,” writes  ZDNet’s Natalie Gagliordi.

“As the way we work continues to change, it is absolutely critical for businesses and public sector customers to have access to a comprehensive suite of offerings that are enterprise-ready, secure and frictionless and that integrate with existing tools,” maintains  Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin in the release announcing the deal. 

“Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said on CNBC on Thursday that Verizon has been looking at BlueJeans for about a year, and he thinks his company’s distribution will allow BluJeans to better compete with Zoom and others. Vestberg reiterated that BlueJeans will be built into Verizon’s 5G network. ‘Ultimately videoconferencing and video will be enormously important in 5G,’ he said,” writes  Kim Lyons for The Verge.

“But unlike Zoom, Verizon is also a national internet service provider. Its purchase of BlueJeans opens the door to potential net neutrality concerns of Verizon prioritizing its own videoconferencing software for Fios customers over competitors like Zoom and Microsoft Teams,” Lyons points out.

Zoom, meanwhile, “is calling in the equivalent of the cybersecurity cavalry after security lapses  that have drawn attention from U.S. authorities and raised concerns with customers,” Robert McMillan and Aaron Tilley write  for MarketWatch. They’ve reportedly hired dozens of security and privacy consultants including former experts from companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google.

“With that move, Zoom is taking a page from the playbook Microsoft deployed almost 20 years ago to restore the image of its Windows software, said Alex Stamos, former chief security officer at Facebook who is helping Zoom manage the effort as a consultant. Microsoft’s pivot to ‘Trustworthy Computing’ in 2002 came after years of security problems left Windows users vulnerable to internet worms and viruses that battered the company’s reputation,” McMillan and Tilley add.

Until that happens, Macy Bayern offers a look  at the “Top 10 Zoom alternatives for videoconferencing” in TechRepublic.

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