Light Reading

Vidyo Takes in $20M to Bring Video to IoT

Sarah Thomas

Telepresence pioneer Vidyo has added another $20 million to its wallet to help fuel its vision of a video-enabled Internet of Things (IoT).

The company announced the funding on Friday, bringing its total to $139 million raised since its launch in 2005. Its latest round comes from existing investors, including Menlo Ventures , Rho Ventures , Sevin Rosen Funds , QuestMark Partners , Saints Capital, Four Rivers Group, ORR Ventures, Triangle Peak Partners, and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) via its Junos Innovation Fund. (See Vidyo Raises $17.1M, Vidyo D Round Nets $22.5M, Vidyo Raises $25M, and Vidyo Bags $15M, Spews News.)

Vidyo Inc. started life building scalable telepresence platforms. You may know it as the technology behind Google+ Hangouts or the video chat enabler for Nintendo's Wii. Now, however, it is planning to bring HD-quality video to non-person-to-person interactions through IoT -- i.e. letting people interact with devices, whether they be appliances, wearables, or in-vehicle applications. (See Vidyo Provides Chat Function for Wii.)

Vidyo says it will use its fresh funding to accelerate this vision, specifically for sales and market development of its VidyoWorks platform in banking, healthcare, government, and enterprise. According to the company's VP of Strategic Marketing, Mark Noble, the company is responding to a movement toward integrating video into workflows and devices so that it's not a destination, just part of a process.

"There's a whole world now of different apps that need to be video enabled," Noble says. "Everyone is claiming any network, any device, but this is about any app -- enabling it."

Vidyo has seen the most traction so far in the healthcare industry, embedding video software in telemetry devices and consoles for video consultations. It's also working in the banking industry to embed video into ATMs and in retail to enable concierge services. Or, for a more niche use case, Noble suggests the Department of Agriculture could use an application to track the migratory patterns of animals. Rather than tag them with radio tags, it could equip them with wearable cameras for a real view of how they are living.

What about WebRTC?
If all this sounds familiar, it is because this is essentially the promise of WebRTC, which is a web standard for embedding real-time communications in a browser with one click. Vidyo has been successful because of its scalable, patented video router that allows it to adapt to and optimize for any degree of media handling, but Noble says it will work with WebRTC as well via the VP8 codec: Vidyo would just treat WebRTC as another end point. (See The Upcoming Video Codec War and What WebRTC Means for Telcos.)

Noble says that gets more exciting starting this fall through next year. Vidyo plans to deliver a suite of JavaScript connectors that align WebRTC APIs with its own VideoWorks APIs, so any work a WebRTC developer has done will be reusable with Vidyo's platform to create a higher-quality, more reliable experience, leverage the ecosystem it's already built up.

Through its relationship with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which recently confirmed the WebRTC component of Hangouts, Vidyo is working to build scalable extensions of the more advanced VP9 codec in Chrome. As the next generation of VP9-based WebRTC apps begin to come to market, Vidyo will have browser-based end points natively routable through its infrastructure, meaning developers won't need to do any transcoding to work with it.

"WebRTC is very strong on the API integration side and helps people get video communication into Web apps effectively," Noble says. "The things WebRTC does not address are scalability and public networks -- you still need an architecture and knowhow to use the toolset in VP9. That's what Vidyo does with its architecture and creating scale with a PSTN-type of video exchange."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
7/29/2014 | 6:56:07 AM
Re: Limitless possibility
For any Tech fan who has been closely following the developments in the IoT world, it has been clear right from the start that some form of video linkage or video communication between the devices themselves and their users would have to be established before the true power of the IoT movement could be unleashed. Just as there is no practical limit to the type and functions of IoT devices that can be made, so is there no limit to the devices on which the video communication structures can be installed. So whichever way you look at it, this is an excellent move for Vidyo.
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/29/2014 | 6:42:19 AM
Re: Expected
With all the hype surrounding the IoT world and the kind of technology that Vidyo has proved it can bring to life, it was only a matter of time before they came to this point. Nothing sells to potential investors like a proven track record in terms of delivery and a ready market just waiting to receive so the only surprise here for me is that they did not manage to raise more money. But, that too is only a matter of time inn its coming. Kudos!
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/13/2014 | 8:31:24 AM
Re: Another round for only $20M?
@JoJa: Interesting point.  Perhaps the company has no interest in going public and is instead courting buyers.

On the other hand, the type of VC fundraising you're talking about has surely driven us straight into a private-funding tech bubble.  Perhaps this is simply more socially and fiscally responsible funding.
User Rank: Light Beer
7/11/2014 | 11:47:49 AM
Another round for only $20M?
I don't work for a VC, but seeing a 5th round of funding for such a small amount would be concerning for me. Similar to "checking" at the poker table when you don't have a strong hand to play. It would look better if such a late round was for $100M+.
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