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Verizon opens up about BlueJeans acquisition

Executives from Verizon and BlueJeans had been discussing the possibility of the telecommunications giant acquiring the videoconferencing provider since the middle of 2019. But those discussions took on a much greater sense of urgency in the middle of March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of Americans to work from home.

"The discussions became very different" on March 16, BlueJeans CEO Quentin Gallivan explained. That was the Monday that traffic on the service jumped 300%, as most of BlueJeans' corporate customers sent their employees to work from home. "Our [acquisition] conversations changed dramatically."

Indeed, Gallivan said BlueJeans' management nicknamed the company's core team of engineers the "surge heroes" because they were able to ramp up the company's service to meet coronavirus-generated demand.

"We were able to help our customers get through it," Gallivan said during a LinkedIn event to discuss Verizon's acquisition of the company.

Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business and the executive who oversaw the purchase, said that the operator has been reselling BlueJeans videoconferencing services to its enterprise customers since early 2019. She also noted that the operator added the service to some of its first 5G-powered smartphones from Samsung in order to show off the capabilities of the network.

Now, Erwin explained, Verizon is hoping to use BlueJeans to be more responsive to its customers' videoconferencing needs, customizing and scaling services where necessary. However, she added that Verizon still plans to sell Cisco videoconferencing services in addition to BlueJeans: "It's important that we have options," she said.

Specifically, Verizon's Erwin said that the operator expects to push BlueJeans videoconferencing more forcefully into a few select verticals including government, education and healthcare.

"You and I will never sit in a doctor's office sick again," she said. Gallivan added that BlueJeans is compliant with healthcare providers' HIPPA regulations.

"We're super excited about taking this platform and expanding to new verticals," Erwin said.

More broadly, Erwin said that Verizon sees BlueJeans as a mechanism for small businesses to get back to work as stay-at-home orders are lifted around the country. She also hinted that BlueJeans could be installed onto future Verizon 5G devices.

BlueJeans can also meet the security requirements of Verizon Business' enterprise customers, Erwin and Gallivan explained. Gallivan added that the service was initially designed for the business market. In addition, he said the service is rolling out new security features such as a "locking" mechanism that will prevent additional, unwanted callers from joining a meeting, and a "watermarking" feature that will allow customers to put their logo onto meeting content.

Finally, both Erwin and Gallivan discussed their own videoconferencing pet peeves – after all, a large section of the American population is in the midst of learning videoconferencing etiquette. Erwin said she prefers that all meeting participants turn on their video cameras, even if their hair isn't combed. Gallivan, meanwhile, said his snoring schnauzer can be a distraction during calls.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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