Industry Briefings: September 2016

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During the course of my regular briefings with industry professionals I often come across information that I find newsworthy. We have created this recurring feature as a way of sharing these items with you. Below, in alphabetical order, are notes and thoughts from a few of my most recent briefings.

Lifesize
I recently spoke with Craig Malloy, CEO of Lifesize, about the company’s transformation in the last two years. When Craig returned to our industry, just over two years ago, he told me he was going to make some big changes. Many returning (or new) CEOs say that, but it turns out that Craig was very serious. Our industry was in upheaval with the big software/cloud revolution and we were all waiting to see how Cisco, Polycom, and Lifesize would adjust. While all three have certainly made changes, the shift at Lifesize was particularly thorough. It is a rebooted company. On the product side, their Lifesize Cloud service has replaced their hardware infrastructure line. They do, however, still make room systems. The Icon series is now tightly integrated with the Lifesize Cloud. This offers some advantages over choosing cloud and hardware from separate vendors. Craig also had to downsize the company significantly to be a leaner cloud based provider. Finally, he needed to get Lifesize out of Logitech for a fresh start.

A lot has changed in 2 years. Craig is no longer talking about tough transition tasks on his plate, he is talking about spending the last 7 months focusing on growth, success, and generating revenue. He has 3500 cloud customers (companies, not users), with over 15,000 devices supported in the field. The Lifesize Cloud is hosting millions of minutes of video calls a month. Significantly, a large percentage of his customers are outside of the US. Craig is working to make Lifesize Cloud as attractive as possible to his core buyer, the IT person. While workers are getting turned on to video via consumer applications, at some point the IT person has to step in and put everyone on a business ready solution. That means it has to be scalable, secure, and provide interop with existing systems. Lifesize seeks to be the enterprise ready solution that has ease of use for workers, and easy of deployment/management for the IT person.

SPFFit
September is education month at Let’s Do Video. With that in mind I want to share the news about a new startup. I have been working with a firm (with a working name of SPFFit) that has developed and patented software that helps prevent students from saying or doing the wrong thing on social media and/or emails. The software is designed to help prevent college students from damaging their individual brands or the brand of the football or basketball team or fraternity or sorority etc. In elementary and high schools the software will help prevent bullying. In the corporate environment the software helps eliminate Sarbanes-Oxley and SEC violations.

The company has been in “stealth mode” for a while; however, since filing their patent they are now aggressively reaching out to investors and advisors. Many of you in the video/collaboration community know the founder and CEO, JD Vaughn, the former VP of Worldwide sales at Accord Networks and VP of North American Sales for Polycom. JD leads a team of eight and they have just begun reaching out the investor and advisor community. I love the solution and know that parents of college students, coaches and enterprises would love to know they are protected from a social media “brain freeze” that I am told can cost the average Fortune 2000 firm millions of dollars per occurrence. Certainly we have all seen how, in the political arena, protection from an ill advised tweet could have saved several careers at this point.

StarLeaf
I caught up with Hellene Garcia, Director of Business Development at StarLeaf, who had some good news and big wins to share. While much of it was NDA, I can say that StarLeaf is expanding its presence in the US with new hires, including industry vets like Mark ArmanPhil Daniele, Jeffrey Swetz and David Ward.  They’ve also strengthened their marketing team with the addition of a new VP, Martin Pang.

Hellene shared that a vast majority of the millions of minutes of video calls hosted on the StarLeaf Open Cloud every month, are point-to-point calls. I thought this was particularly interesting as not all video cloud solutions even offer point-to-point calling. Many competitors only support meet-me room calling. In my opinion, the fact that users take to the point-to-point dynamic offered by Starleaf makes it a UC play, as well as being an interop video cloud service. In other news, their Skype for Business Huddle Room solution, the GTm Huddle, is getting ready to ship, and their UI continues to develop.

In addition, StarLeaf continues to sign up traditional channel partners for its offerings, as well as server provider partners for for its new UC OpenCloud offering. All in all, the StarLeaf team is extremely active, with several NDA developments on the roadmap, so stay tuned.

Zoom
Janelle Raney, Product Marketing Executive at Zoom, brought me up to date on some recent successes. The company continues to achieve recognition, with inclusion on the Forbes 2016 Best 100 Cloud companies list. Zoom also was awarded for Enterprise Mobility: Mobile Video Conferencing by Compass Intelligence.

Zoom is continuing to develop its platform, and while some exciting pending developments are NDA, I can share the details of the recent update for their iOS app. This is a significant release with new functionality including polling during meetings, content and chat search, iCloud and OneDrive sharing, breakout session support, and more. This indicates to me that Zoom realizes that people on mobile devices aren’t just passive meeting attendees, but can also be meeting leaders. As such, they need these types of controls and advanced features. I expect these updates will be well appreciated.

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About Author

David Maldow is the Founder & CEO of Let's Do Video and has been covering the visual collaboration industry, and related technologies, for over a decade. His background includes 5 years at Wainhouse Research, where he managed the Video Test Lab and evaluated many of the leading solutions at the time. David has authored hundreds of articles and thought pieces both at Telepresence Options, where he was managing partner for several years, as well as here at Let's Do Video. David often speaks at industry events and webinars as well as hosting the LDV Video Podcast.

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