The first time I came across a company called Tokbox was in June of 2011 when Nick Mullen (@nickmullenOTT) came back from a trip to California gushing about some amazing technology he had seen and an even more impressive team that had been building it. Of course in a way that only Nick can, instead of just talking about it, he had actually built something. That something was an instant videoconferencing session with nothing more than a web browser required. It worked brilliantly and so we ran around the business demoing internally but failed to find a “buyer” to use the technology, people did not think it was the right time.
Flash forward to July 2012, we, the TU Product team, started to look at technologies in the video space as we saw this as an obvious gap in our complete comms platform strategy without a solid answer. In this search we looked at a number of companies and approaches, everything from mobile only, one to one video comms and codecs like Eyeball Networks or Tango, to video messaging services like Six3, to group video comms products like ooVoo or Airtime (remember them?) and even had a chat with the guys over at BlueJeans to talk about interoperability.
We were searching not only for an answer to the video gap but also for a more comprehensive video strategy that could encompass mobile and PC, todays technology and tomorrows as well as groups. Any of these companies could satisfy any one or even two of the areas we identified but none had the comprehensive coverage nor the ability to scale until we sat down again with Tokbox. Ian Small and Badri gave us an overview of their products and demoed some really cool technology working on iPads, iPhones, Androids and something that no one else was showing which was HTML5 / WebRTC video in the browser. This was the thing that really peaked our interest, Telefonica is making a huge push in HTML5 with the FirefoxOS and we saw something that would really round out the offer and is clearly the way things are going in the future. Zuckerberg said Facebook’s big mistake was trying to go HTML5 in mobile but I think they were just trying to go HTML5 on the wrong platforms.
Having participated in the Jajah acquisition a few years earlier, I learned some valuable lessons of which the primary one was that we needed a platform and not a product in the video space as the demand in our businesses like O2, Movistar and Vivo would likely be massive especially as LTE rolls out. So the Tokbox approach of platform first was exactly spot on to where we needed to be in our businesses so we could scale the heck out of the products.
I came back from this trip more excited than ever about the space, after a chat with Nick again he trotted out the year-old demo which we were quickly able to re-use when an opportunity to acquire Tokbox came to light. We used the demo to present to our board in Telefonica Digital. Suffice to say they were impressed, my favourite comment from the session was that the “quality is better than we have with our dedicated system solutions in our offices”.
So one thing led to another and today we are happy to announce that Telefonica Digital has acquired the leading video technology platforms and the best team for video communications, Tokbox, and are incorporating it into our over the top Comms platform that we offer to market.
Now BlueVia has the the most comprehensive set of API’s for calling, texting and now video calling in the world. Can’t wait to expose them to developers and see what will be built.