TokBox nabs $12M in VC to expand video chat across the Internet

Web video Communications provider TokBox is rolling out a new product that allows website owners to put video chat streams into websites where the make the most sense, a "talk show online" environment that makes Internet chat a more immersive andOpenTok from TokBox engaging experience.

"It's really being able to bring in an audience and engage with it, almost like a talk show host," TokBox CEO Ian Small told FierceOnlineVideo.

The cloud-based service, founded in 2007, today announced it has raised $12 million in its third round of venture capital funding, led by DAG Ventures. Current investors Bain Capital and Sequoia Capital also participated in this round, which is earmarked to fund strategic growth as the company unveils OpenTok, which it describes as "a game-changing" platform that "weaves live, group video communication into the fabric of the Web."

Small said that OpenTok will give developers the opportunity to add depth to enterprise, social and ecommerce websites that previously had been lacking.

"Most of the current social interaction on the Web is with text and that creates rich media websites with poor media interactions," said Small. OpenTok also gives website owners who offer webinars and educational programming opportunities to interact with customers during presentations, one-on-one, or with numerous attendees. For example, attendees in a webinar can choose to simply watch, or have their own live video chat added to a webinar when, for example, they have a question to ask.

TokBox currently is working with some 20 early access partners, including a speed dating service that's trying out OpenTok.

OpenTok works on Windows- and Mac-based PCs with up to 20 open video chat boxes (although more users can be watching), and on mobile devices, where up to six video chat participants can be online at once, although an unlimited number of users can watch. The company is also adding a function that will allow boxes to open and close as different participants "go live," similar to a producer zooming in on a particular speaker on a televised panel.

OpenTok is launching as a free service today in its basic iteration with premium services available.

"In a few short years, online video chat has accelerated from simply an interesting idea to mainstream acceptance," said Scott Friend of Bain Capital Ventures and a TokBox board member. "TokBox's insight into the evolving market opportunity is exciting, their roster of partners is growing, and their technology bets are ready to pay off. TokBox is going to change the way people think of Web-based video chat."

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