Blue Jeans CEO Looks To Beat His Two-Time Acquirer Cisco With Low-Cost Video Conferencing

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Having sold two companies to Cisco, Krish Ramakrishnan knows what it takes to compete with the venerable networking giant.

After leaving Cisco for the second time to be an entrepreneur in residence at Accel Partners, he started Blue Jeans Network three years ago to compete in the video conferencing space. They soon rolled out a product that connects people for video meetings regardless of whether they use Skype, Google Hangouts, Cisco or Polycom.

Now Blue Jeans is digging in deep with a new product meant to kill those expensive video conferencing units called MCUs or multipoint control units, that can cost north of $250,000.

“This is a $700 million market. We’re just following a trend in industry where people’s infrastructure just disappears into the cloud,” he said in an interview. “It’s my intention to take the oxygen out of the traditional MCU unit. Just shrink it. The industry doesn’t need legacy-type devices.”

The new service, which he calls an “MCU Killer,” starts at $299 per port (or per party involved in calls). He’s already signed up 250 enterprise clients including Facebook, Foursquare, Stanford University and MIT, that want a cloud-based video conference solution that they can easily scale up or down depending on the number of people who need to use it. With old MCU units, they’d usually pay for several devices or ports up-front, even if they didn’t end up needing them down the line.

Even if he cuts this $700 million market down significantly, Ramakrishnan is optimistic that the lower barriers to entry will bring many more new customers into the market.

“Maybe the hardware market will disappear, but Blue Jeans is about expanding the usage of video,” he said.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has raised $23.5 million from Accel Partners, NEA and Norwest Venture Partners