Is WebEx "Dead Man Walking?"

Posted on May 22, 2010 | 92 comments


This week I was preparing for my weekly This Week in Venture Capital web show and was researching some of the deals that were announced for the week.  One of the companies that just announced $10 million in funding was a company I had never heard of called Huddle.  I wanted to look at what they actually did so in looking at their website I saw this positioning

“Huddle helps businesses connect, share and work better together.  With Huddle, you can manage people, projects and information inside and outside your company, securely.”

OK, so that could mean a lot of things.  Dig deeper and you see that they do: project management (like 37 Signals), share and store files online (like DropBox and Box.net), create and edit documents online (like Google Docs & Zoho), Wikis (like SocialText) and Discussions (like Yammer). Oy vey.  In my show with Dana Settle (near the very end of the video if you’re interested) I said two things: 1) I’m routing for Huddle because I always route for UK-based companies and 2) I was worried that they were spread too broadly and perhaps they should focus around a few key areas in which they can build market-leading products.

I always worry about companies that spread themselves too broadly.  I believe that you need to have product excellence in order to scale to being a really big business and that’s pretty tough when you have such a wide remit.  An amalgamation of other people’s services might win business with some companies (there is an age old debate between “best of breed” versus “integrated solutions”) but in the end I doubt a business that goes “a mile wide and an inch deep” can be a huge company.  So my advice was to focus a bit more.

But then I saw something really nutty.  When I was looking through their company’s history I saw the following statement made in September 2009:

“Takes on WebEx, launches web conferencing and announces its US expansion with 900 US resellers”

Really?  Aside from attacking yet another market segment all I could think about is, “Why enter the web conferencing market.  Isn’t WebEx already dead man walking?  And for that matter GoToMeeting also?’

When you use technology for a really long time you begin to spot patterns.  Like when in the space of a week everybody I knew had signed up for Quora.  Or when I lived in Europe and everybody I knew was using Skype.  This happened in Europe way before the US because to make any call out of the country was a paid call whereas in the US you had a lot of “all you can eat” national plans.

So Skype was ubiquitous.  And then eBay bought them for $2.6 billion (plus an earn out that could have totalled $4 billion but didn’t in the end) in 2005 before selling 65% of the company in 2009 for $1.9 billion (they retailed a 35% stake valuing Skype at $2.75 billion).  So at least they preserved some value and they didn’t “pull an AOL“.  But it wasn’t exactly the boon that they had expected.  If Skype continues its growth eBay should at least see a return on its investment.

I’ve been thinking about Skype a lot again.  I’m spotting another trend.  And as I foreshadowed, it doesn’t bode well for WebEx let along a wanna be WebEx killer.  I first noticed it while filming an episode of This Week in Cloud Computing.  Kevin Epstein, VP Marketing of CloudShare had Skyp’d in to our broadcast.  And when we asked him to demonstrate his product he reverted his Skype session to a screencast (e.g. he was showing us what was on his computer).

I hadn’t used Skype video too much in the past year and hadn’t noticed this feature.  I registered it in my mind at the time, “hmm, a screen cast while you’re on Skype, that’s pretty clever.”  CloudShare as a product also sounded like a great idea to me.  You can create virtual instances of computers in the cloud.  I could see that being really useful.

The very next week I organized a call with Babak Nivi of VentureHacks to present to the Launchpad LA class.  We were doing an educational session on term sheets.  The two bibles on this topic on VentureHacks Archives and on Feld.com so I asked Nivi to do a Skype call.  I had expect a Q&A style session and as I asked the first question – BOOM – he went straight to screen sharing using his term sheet write-ups on VentureHacks.   Then David Lapter, the CFO & EVP Operations of KickAps in the same week did a Skype / Webcast presentation of his business to the SoCal Venture Alliance monthly meeting.

There it was staring me in the eyes.  WTF would I ever use WebEx or GoToMeeting?  And how were they going to exist as paid products in the future?  As Om Malik points out here: Skype is HUGE!  It’s the largest telco in the world.  They have 560 million users!  Nearly two times the entire size of the US population.  And growing.  Skype accounts for 12% of the world’s international calling minutes.  36% percent of Skype calls include video.  And they’re averaging more then 12 billion Skype-to-Skype calls / month.  Yes, with a “B.”  And soon that will include screen sharing.

Just as Skype took a major chunk out of the international carriers businesses, so to do I believe it will take a major bite out of the web & video conferencing business.  I’m writing this post from Shanghai.  I just got off a Skype call with my wife and kids.  The voice was more clear than my mobile phone.  And we had full screen video.  I had forgotten just how awesome it is.  And as soon as more people find out about screen sharing I imagine a lot of cancelations to people paying big fees for web conferencing.  If Cisco were smart they would have more aggressively used WebEx to push a free Skype competitor.  After all, the success of the VOIP market helps push its core router products that get sold to telcos.  Too late.  Skype is king.

So the only room I see left in the paid market in the near future is for super premium services that offer features that I don’t believe Skype will any time in the near future.  This could include value-added features like audience polling, caller Q&A that is moderated, multi-location support for highly distributed meetings, etc.  I doubt there will be much middle ground.  Low end to mid end = free.  Super high end = paid.

And that leads me back to Huddle.  I think they should take some advice from their brand name and then regroup around what their core strategy will be.  I don’t doubt that there’s room in the markets for which they’re playing.  Just not each of them simultaneously.  And certainly not “tak[ing] on WebEx.”  That’s not a battle I’d be thrilled to win.

__________________________

Update: Just thought I’d add for record that I’ve been a happy user of GoToMeeting for years (and Placeware before that.  Before Microsoft bought them and did nothing exciting with them).  I see nothing wrong with GoToMeeting.  But you still face problems that: 1) you have to wait for a lot of people to download the client (it’s not as ubiquitous as Skype) 2) it costs money and 3) it’s not designed for voice/video.  So I think it’s simply a case of Skype’s creative destruction of that market than of anything WebEx or GoToMeeting did.

  • http://stickyslides.blogspot.com Jan Schultink

    Probably depends on the type of meeting, most of mine are discussions where we iterate a document.

  • http://stickyslides.blogspot.com Jan Schultink

    Probably depends on the type of meeting, most of mine are discussions where we iterate a document.

  • Luka

    Our company was considering GoToMeeting. After Skype added share screen function, we just didn't bother. Skype gave us all we needed and for the right price.

  • Luka

    Our company was considering GoToMeeting. After Skype added share screen function, we just didn't bother. Skype gave us all we needed and for the right price.

  • TedBlosser

    you are spot on with the disruption that Skype is causing. I also believe that this is going to be permeated even more with the moves Google is making in video chat and wave. However, with regards to Webex, one thing to note though is that I think the biggest benefit that it offers is that they are client-less. I used to use them for customer calls and presentations all the time and it was extremely easy to get a non-tech savvy customer to get a meeting launched through a simple link. Although Skype is huge in the consumer space, requiring a client on all your recipients' desktops could be a hurdle that Skype would need to overcome to make it big in the small and mid end market in my opinion. Intriguing blog post, thanks.

  • TedBlosser

    you are spot on with the disruption that Skype is causing. I also believe that this is going to be permeated even more with the moves Google is making in video chat and wave. However, with regards to Webex, one thing to note though is that I think the biggest benefit that it offers is that they are client-less. I used to use them for customer calls and presentations all the time and it was extremely easy to get a non-tech savvy customer to get a meeting launched through a simple link. Although Skype is huge in the consumer space, requiring a client on all your recipients' desktops could be a hurdle that Skype would need to overcome to make it big in the small and mid end market in my opinion. Intriguing blog post, thanks.

  • http://www.madmagz.com Youssef Rahoui

    It's true that Skype is huge and that feature is awesome. But one needs to remember that the folk with whom you want to share your screen needs to have Skype.

    We're doing business with SMBs and a lot of them don't use it or are not allowed to. So we use another app, which works really fine: http://www.yuuguu.com.

  • http://www.madmagz.com Youssef Rahoui

    It's true that Skype is huge and that feature is awesome. But one needs to remember that the folk with whom you want to share your screen needs to have Skype.

    We're doing business with SMBs and a lot of them don't use it or are not allowed to. So we use another app, which works really fine: http://www.yuuguu.com.

  • http://www.conorneill.com Conor

    There is a wonderful fable in the Jim Collins' book Good to Great where he asks “Are you a fox or are you a hedgehog?”.

    The fox knows many things, the hedgehog knows one big thing. The fox is a cunning creature, able to devise complex strategies for sneak attacks on the hedgehog. Fast, sleek, beautiful, fleet of foot and crafty, the fox looks the sure winner. The hedgehog, on the other hand, is a dull creature. He waddles along, going about his simple day, searching for lunch and taking care of his home.

    Day after day, the fox devises cunning plans to get the hedgehog. Each time the little hedgehog, sensing danger looks up and thinks “here we go again. Will he ever learn?” He rolls up into a little ball of spikes. The fox sees the hedgehog defence and calls off his attack, retreats back to the forest to devise a new complicated strategy, a new line of attack.

    Hedgehogs see what is essential, and ignore the rest.

    It is the hedgehogs that become great companies, the hedgehog people become great leaders. Consistently doing what you do best, can be world class at, and have passion for is what leads to greatness rather than merely another good enough product.

    (I have actually used Go to Meeting with skype for the audio… I hadn't realised that skype allowed the screen sharing… you have opened my eyes ;-).

    The other sad bit here is a concept that I would call “The universe doesn't care”. It doesn't care who deserves to win, it doesn't care about all the hard work… It doesn't care about the passion and the thousands of man hours dedicated to the creation of WebEx, to GoToMeeting… The world changes and you become irrelevant… Unfair, Cruel… but the nature of things.

  • http://www.conorneill.com Conor

    There is a wonderful fable in the Jim Collins' book Good to Great where he asks “Are you a fox or are you a hedgehog?”.

    The fox knows many things, the hedgehog knows one big thing. The fox is a cunning creature, able to devise complex strategies for sneak attacks on the hedgehog. Fast, sleek, beautiful, fleet of foot and crafty, the fox looks the sure winner. The hedgehog, on the other hand, is a dull creature. He waddles along, going about his simple day, searching for lunch and taking care of his home.

    Day after day, the fox devises cunning plans to get the hedgehog. Each time the little hedgehog, sensing danger looks up and thinks “here we go again. Will he ever learn?” He rolls up into a little ball of spikes. The fox sees the hedgehog defence and calls off his attack, retreats back to the forest to devise a new complicated strategy, a new line of attack.

    Hedgehogs see what is essential, and ignore the rest.

    It is the hedgehogs that become great companies, the hedgehog people become great leaders. Consistently doing what you do best, can be world class at, and have passion for is what leads to greatness rather than merely another good enough product.

    (I have actually used Go to Meeting with skype for the audio… I hadn't realised that skype allowed the screen sharing… you have opened my eyes ;-).

    The other sad bit here is a concept that I would call “The universe doesn't care”. It doesn't care who deserves to win, it doesn't care about all the hard work… It doesn't care about the passion and the thousands of man hours dedicated to the creation of WebEx, to GoToMeeting… The world changes and you become irrelevant… Unfair, Cruel… but the nature of things.

  • Nari Kannan

    Mark – We have been users of GotoMeeting and we had to sign up for Webex because many of our prospects had firewalls punched only for Webex and not any other service. Sometimes, your prospects may dictate what you use also – in our case all of our clients were BPO companies that needed to “Fort Knox” their infrastructure. So in that sense it was different but nevertheless affected our choice, anyway!

  • Nari Kannan

    Mark – We have been users of GotoMeeting and we had to sign up for Webex because many of our prospects had firewalls punched only for Webex and not any other service. Sometimes, your prospects may dictate what you use also – in our case all of our clients were BPO companies that needed to “Fort Knox” their infrastructure. So in that sense it was different but nevertheless affected our choice, anyway!

  • http://twitter.com/piplzchoice Gregory Yankelovich

    I have been using Skype almost everyday for years and it is awesome. You are absolutely write about WebEx and GoTo Meeting, both wasted uncountable amount of meeting time with it's installation and compatibility problems. Every meeting I was forced to use these tools had started at least 10-15 minutes late because somebody had problems to make it work. The only problem I have with Skype is the fact that in order to share your screen with other participants, they also have to be on Skype and many corporate clients of mine are not allowed to use Skype in the office. That opens the space for companies like Yuuguu.com that operate in unbounded web browser.

  • http://twitter.com/piplzchoice Gregory Yankelovich

    I have been using Skype almost everyday for years and it is awesome. You are absolutely write about WebEx and GoTo Meeting, both wasted uncountable amount of meeting time with it's installation and compatibility problems. Every meeting I was forced to use these tools had started at least 10-15 minutes late because somebody had problems to make it work. The only problem I have with Skype is the fact that in order to share your screen with other participants, they also have to be on Skype and many corporate clients of mine are not allowed to use Skype in the office. That opens the space for companies like Yuuguu.com that operate in unbounded web browser.

  • Matt Cameron

    Mark, recently I made the same observations with respect to TomTom and Navman – Portable in-car navigation devices will be slaughtered by the brilliance of smartphones with Google Navigate installed. A TomTom/Navman/Garmin requiring users to buy a CD to update maps (which are out of date before you even buy them) cannot compete with the always up to date free Google Navigation service that integrates with your calendar.

    In my view TomTom, Garmin and Navman need to battle it out for relationships with auto manufacturers for in-car systems – My money would be on Garmin because they have breadth in terms of dominating the aeronautical and boating markets.

    I wonder who will be next to get side-swiped by an online juggernaut.

  • Matt Cameron

    Mark, recently I made the same observations with respect to TomTom and Navman – Portable in-car navigation devices will be slaughtered by the brilliance of smartphones with Google Navigate installed. A TomTom/Navman/Garmin requiring users to buy a CD to update maps (which are out of date before you even buy them) cannot compete with the always up to date free Google Navigation service that integrates with your calendar.

    In my view TomTom, Garmin and Navman need to battle it out for relationships with auto manufacturers for in-car systems – My money would be on Garmin because they have breadth in terms of dominating the aeronautical and boating markets.

    I wonder who will be next to get side-swiped by an online juggernaut.

  • jamespatterson2

    You can't argue with Skype scale. However, their underlying margin model is still tenuous and quite dependent on making money of the spreads on international wholesale voice. Love the company, and use it all the time for video, but with mobile terminations coming down, and apps that target mobile international usage rising, I'm concerned about their long-term profit picture.

    And front facing cameras are just coming to mobile. For free.

    Given their ties to Verizon Wireless (apparently an exclusive with the 35% market share leader in the US), they seem to be saying “take it” to the remaining international termination marketplace. Given Carlos Slim's private network (which will cover broadband as well as narrowband applications for voice and data for America Movil), I can't see where they outtelco the telcos.

    A great user base, but when mobile gets to free with front-facing cameras, where do they go?

  • jamespatterson2

    You can't argue with Skype scale. However, their underlying margin model is still tenuous and quite dependent on making money of the spreads on international wholesale voice. Love the company, and use it all the time for video, but with mobile terminations coming down, and apps that target mobile international usage rising, I'm concerned about their long-term profit picture.

    And front facing cameras are just coming to mobile. For free.

    Given their ties to Verizon Wireless (apparently an exclusive with the 35% market share leader in the US), they seem to be saying “take it” to the remaining international termination marketplace. Given Carlos Slim's private network (which will cover broadband as well as narrowband applications for voice and data for America Movil), I can't see where they outtelco the telcos.

    A great user base, but when mobile gets to free with front-facing cameras, where do they go?

    UPDATE: http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ebay/922… has the last filing of the “communications segment” of EBay (which was Skype). This would have been for the 3rd quarter 2009. Here's their gross margin:

    3Q 2009: Rev: $185.2 million; direct costs = $140.4 million; Contribution margin = $44.8 million (24% of revenues). This is actually down from 26% margin in 3Q 2008. Decreasing margins is indicative of the tough international termination business climate. 9 mos margin was also 24%. Remember the 24% is before any corporate and overhead costs, taxes, and other distributions.

    EBay sold the asset because it was not going to earn its cost of capital ($2 billion in assets, most of it intangible). The $3.2 billion valuation is likely 16-18x 2009 EBITDA (contribution margin for 9 months was $121 million, assume that some of that was depreciation, and add a quarter – likely $180-200 million in 2009 EBITDA).

    It's a big base, but it's not making money.

  • http://www.telephony2market.com/ Larry Lisser

    Mark – these days I'm extremely bullish on Skype, especially as they ramp up a new senior team to run Skype for Business. Would be a fun boardroom to be in these days, given the unique nature of their opportunity.

    As for web conferencing, I just recently posted over at Voyces (http://bit.ly/bacaAx) about how Skype can own this market segment going forward (particularly in the Fortune 5M – small end of small business), and accelerate their top line with high volume/low cost but rich subscription revenue. Never mind that Webex is too expensive for this group, to this day it also remains too complicated to use.

    PS. I agree with you…they could have gone to market with a low-end, separate brand when they had the chance. Have fun in China!

  • http://www.telephony2market.com/ Larry Lisser

    Mark – these days I'm extremely bullish on Skype, especially as they ramp up a new senior team to run Skype for Business. Would be a fun boardroom to be in these days, given the unique nature of their opportunity.

    As for web conferencing, I just recently posted over at Voyces (http://bit.ly/bacaAx) about how Skype can own this market segment going forward (particularly in the Fortune 5M – small end of small business), and accelerate their top line with high volume/low cost but rich subscription revenue. Never mind that Webex is too expensive for this group, to this day it also remains too complicated to use.

    PS. I agree with you…they could have gone to market with a low-end, separate brand when they had the chance. Have fun in China!

  • http://twitter.com/scrollinondubs Sean Tierney

    I agree WebEX is going away but I don't think Skype is the nail in its coffin. Skype is great for webcasting to small groups but it has 2 glaring flaws: 1) requires that everyone have a skype acct & client- granted most people do. 2) AFAIK doesn't allow you to pass control around amongst participants.

    IMHO Dimdim will be the death of WebEX. We use this regularly running on EC2 via JumpBox. I'm actually giving a webinar tomorrow with it. it costs us all of $.08 per meeting – pair it w/ freeconferencecall.com as a dial-in for audio and you have a ridiculously cheap and adequate web conferencing solution.

    sean

    PS. Mark- i clicked through my RSS reader to your site and get this scary malware warning in my browser: http://www.scrollinondubs.com/wp-content/upload

  • http://twitter.com/scrollinondubs Sean Tierney

    I agree WebEX is going away but I don't think Skype is the nail in its coffin. Skype is great for webcasting to small groups but it has 2 glaring flaws: 1) requires that everyone have a skype acct & client- granted most people do. 2) AFAIK doesn't allow you to pass control around amongst participants.

    IMHO Dimdim will be the death of WebEX. We use this regularly running on EC2 via JumpBox. I'm actually giving a webinar tomorrow with it. it costs us all of $.08 per meeting – pair it w/ freeconferencecall.com as a dial-in for audio and you have a ridiculously cheap and adequate web conferencing solution.

    sean

    PS. Mark- i clicked through my RSS reader to your site and get this scary malware warning in my browser: http://www.scrollinondubs.com/wp-content/upload

  • http://twitter.com/joshuamarch Joshua March

    As a start up, we always used skype to avoid incurring costs, for demos, conf calls etc. In some ways, it's great, and we still use it all the time within the company for coms and informal screen sharing etc. However, trying to do proper conf calls on it is a nightmare – it's just not reliable enough (or, the internet isn't…), and we found it really painful. We've actually switched to GoToMeeting for client conference calls and demos, primarily because we can all telephone in, and then just use GTM for the screen share. We've found it to be much more painless and reliable.

  • http://twitter.com/joshuamarch Joshua March

    As a start up, we always used skype to avoid incurring costs, for demos, conf calls etc. In some ways, it's great, and we still use it all the time within the company for coms and informal screen sharing etc. However, trying to do proper conf calls on it is a nightmare – it's just not reliable enough (or, the internet isn't…), and we found it really painful. We've actually switched to GoToMeeting for client conference calls and demos, primarily because we can all telephone in, and then just use GTM for the screen share. We've found it to be much more painless and reliable.

  • raduprisacaru

    Great article. Really thank you! Cool.

  • raduprisacaru

    Great article. Really thank you! Cool.

  • vinodn

    I guess you are right, Skype has the future to be the most effective choice. If they ramp up some of the features as they need, there will be a more fast adoption

  • vinodn

    I guess you are right, Skype has the future to be the most effective choice. If they ramp up some of the features as they need, there will be a more fast adoption

  • lziemba

    Great discussion. Skype, GoToMeeting, Webex, YuuGuuu, DimDim . . . all good technologies in their own ways but all require at least the person showing their screen to have an executable software client installed.

    LiveLOOK's vision (full disclosure — I'm the EVP there) is that “screen sharing” will be as easy, reliable and ubiquitous as a phone call. We figured out how to let a customer SHOW their screen to a contact center rep without requiring either party to put executable software on the computer. Yeah . . . it really works. It's Java applets running in the browsers.

    Why is this so cool? To deploy a software app in a customer-facing contact center is a big project unto itself. But it's one & done and there are good deployment tools so the next challenge is customer experience. To expect the contact center agents to be able to troubleshoot setting up any solutions like the ones listed above is unrealistic for these reasons:

    1) The contact center agents are skilled at their jobs of supporting tax software or selling computers, not troubleshooting getting past firewalls & security systems to load executable software on the clients' machines.

    2) Let's say they are skilled at this — contact center management are not really keen on adding the call handling time it can take to set this up — anywhere from 2-15 minutes.

    3) Let's just say for argument's sake the contact center management considered the customer interaction or transaction so high in value they are willing to overcome issues 1 & 2 — customers who are about to show their screens containing their credit card numbers or their wealth management accounts are going to be a little hesitant to write software on their computers!

    To a previous comment about privacy — a customer would not want to accidentally show sensitive emails or other information and an agent does not want to see inappropriate material so it is important to limit the agent's views to the company web pages they are supporting. Also important to prevent agents from seeing sensitive data fields with PII (personally identifying information) like credit card numbers.

    That, in our view, is the future of screen sharing.

  • lziemba

    Great discussion. Skype, GoToMeeting, Webex, YuuGuuu, DimDim . . . all good technologies in their own ways but all require at least the person showing their screen to have an executable software client installed.

    LiveLOOK's vision (full disclosure — I'm the EVP there) is that “screen sharing” will be as easy, reliable and ubiquitous as a phone call. We figured out how to let a customer SHOW their screen to a contact center rep without requiring either party to put executable software on the computer. Yeah . . . it really works. It's Java applets running in the browsers.

    Why is this so cool? To deploy a software app in a customer-facing contact center is a big project unto itself. But it's one & done and there are good deployment tools so the next challenge is customer experience. To expect the contact center agents to be able to troubleshoot setting up any solutions like the ones listed above is unrealistic for these reasons:

    1) The contact center agents are skilled at their jobs of supporting tax software or selling computers, not troubleshooting getting past firewalls & security systems to load executable software on the clients' machines.

    2) Let's say they are skilled at this — contact center management are not really keen on adding the call handling time it can take to set this up — anywhere from 2-15 minutes.

    3) Let's just say for argument's sake the contact center management considered the customer interaction or transaction so high in value they are willing to overcome issues 1 & 2 — customers who are about to show their screens containing their credit card numbers or their wealth management accounts are going to be a little hesitant to write software on their computers!

    To a previous comment about privacy — a customer would not want to accidentally show sensitive emails or other information and an agent does not want to see inappropriate material so it is important to limit the agent's views to the company web pages they are supporting. Also important to prevent agents from seeing sensitive data fields with PII (personally identifying information) like credit card numbers.

    That, in our view, is the future of screen sharing.

  • Andrew

    I wonder if WebEx will hold competitive advantage over some players with more advanced record and store services.

  • Andrew

    I wonder if WebEx will hold competitive advantage over some players with more advanced record and store services.

  • laura

    For web conferences you should try http://www.showdocument.com ,
    Great for online teaching and collaborating. I use it for working on my designs with other in my field.
    Its free and pretty simple – you just upload your file and invite others to view it together.
    - Laura W.

  • laura

    For web conferences you should try http://www.showdocument.com ,
    Great for online teaching and collaborating. I use it for working on my designs with other in my field.
    Its free and pretty simple – you just upload your file and invite others to view it together.
    - Laura W.

  • brileetch

    Here's one more thing that proves your point. Every company presenting at TechCrunch Disrupt had to present to Michael Arrington using Skype screen sharing. See “Skype Screen Sharing Is A Huge (And Free) Productivity Tool” – http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/15/skype-screen-s

  • brileetch

    Here's one more thing that proves your point. Every company presenting at TechCrunch Disrupt had to present to Michael Arrington using Skype screen sharing. See “Skype Screen Sharing Is A Huge (And Free) Productivity Tool” – http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/15/skype-screen-s

  • http://twitter.com/JimCanuck Jim Courtney

    A few comments as one who follows Skype closely:

    eBay retained 30% of Skype once a patent issue with the founders was settled. (And we Canadians each own a $17.50 investment in Skype through Canada Pension Plan's $300MM investment in the deal.)

    Skype screen sharing is great for escalating a call to add screen sharing; it happens through the video channel; a most useful tool for supporting a conversation between two parties. But other web conferencing products offer moderation, multiple participants (some up to several hundred), participant management and document sharing features.; there is a feature set difference. Maybe Skype will expand out to these but it requires a different technology other than the Skype video channel.

    A few weeks ago Skype introduced Skype for Windows 5.0 beta 1 with support of up to 5-party video calls; final release will happen later this year. Or, with this version, one can alternatively experience a one-to-one video call plus the screen sharing. (Whereas previously screen sharing supplanted the video channel.)

    But Webex certainly has its challenges these days; will be interesting to see how Cisco plays their hand with it.

  • http://twitter.com/JimCanuck Jim Courtney

    A few comments as one who follows Skype closely:

    eBay retained 30% of Skype once a patent issue with the founders was settled. (And we Canadians each own a $17.50 investment in Skype through Canada Pension Plan's $300MM investment in the deal.)

    Skype screen sharing is great for escalating a call to add screen sharing; it happens through the video channel; a most useful tool for supporting a conversation between two parties. But other web conferencing products offer moderation, multiple participants (some up to several hundred), participant management and document sharing features.; there is a feature set difference. Maybe Skype will expand out to these but it requires a different technology other than the Skype video channel.

    A few weeks ago Skype introduced Skype for Windows 5.0 beta 1 with support of up to 5-party video calls; final release will happen later this year. Or, with this version, one can alternatively experience a one-to-one video call plus the screen sharing. (Whereas previously screen sharing supplanted the video channel.)

    But Webex certainly has its challenges these days; will be interesting to see how Cisco plays their hand with it.

  • Paul B

    You ask, they deliver, new windows client with multi party video and the Mac client will be following suit shortly:

    http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-yo

  • Paul B

    You ask, they deliver, new windows client with multi party video and the Mac client will be following suit shortly:

    http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-yo

  • joeagliozzo

    Interesting that the download page says “free trial of group video calling” .. on top of the news that Skype calling over 3G is also a “free trial” – looks like Skype is moving towards more paid services..and ichat is still going to be the only free multi-party vid alternative.

  • joeagliozzo

    Interesting that the download page says “free trial of group video calling” .. on top of the news that Skype calling over 3G is also a “free trial” – looks like Skype is moving towards more paid services..and ichat is still going to be the only free multi-party vid alternative.