San Francisco-based video conferencing company Fuze is expanding its platform today with the acquisition of an online team collaboration platform, LiveMinutes. With the addition, Fuze is no longer focused only on online meetings, but is now also rolling out a new product called Fuze Spaces which allows colleagues to chat, share and comment on files, organize projects, and more via a web-based dashboard.
Fuze also announced today it had closed on $20 million in new funding from Hermes Growth Partners to continue to expand its business.
The company has already established itself as a more modern alternative to services like WebEx and GoToMeeting with its voice and HD video conferencing solution aimed at helping distributed teams connect, share content and share screens via the cloud. The service is today used by over 100,000 businesses, including big names like Groupon, Starbucks, Macy’s and Thoughtworks. In 2014, 6.5 million people used Fuze – up 100% over the year prior, the company says. And it hosts nearly 2 million minutes of meetings each day.
But online conferencing is only one aspect to team collaboration, which is where the new product and acquisition comes in. The smaller startup LiveMinutes had previously been building an online collaboration tool where co-workers could set up “workspaces” where they could share files, including Office documents, PDFs, PSDs and more, as well as make conference calls over the web or Skype. LiveMinutes last year had also begun to more deeply integrate with Evernote, allowing co-workers to import their notes and view real-time edits.
As of today, Fuze and LiveMinutes have combined their respective offerings. Fuze, which is pilot testing its new product with a handful of select customers, now offers integrations with a number of cloud services, including Box, Dropbox, Google Calendar, Google Drive and others, for document sharing purposes. The idea, the company explains, is to allow businesses to continue to use the products they know make sense for them, instead of having to establish new behaviors.
But Fuze Spaces is especially heavily integrated with Google Drive – users can upload or access their online files from Google Drive in these workspaces, click to create new Google files within a project’s space, or even manage Google file permissions directly from Fuze by selecting a sharing mode like “public” or “per users.” Once online and accessible in the workspace, others can view the files and comment on them. They can also communicate about the project as a whole, co-edit notes, create to-do lists, and invite others to join the workspace.
If need be, a click of a button can turn the chat-based meeting to a face-to-face meeting with the calling integrations. With this product, Fuze is looking to compete with other established project management platforms, like Basecamp, for example.
Next month, Fuze will add another feature called Collaborative Notes to the product, which will allow users to track discussions and tasks outside of meetings. More features will follow in the months ahead, with the product exiting its beta trials later this year.
Pricing details for the combined offering have not been disclosed yet, but Fuze will continue to be a freemium offering for both products.
LiveMintues’ co-founder and CEO Kemal El Moujahid will lead the product strategy for Fuze, following the deal and will be joined by other team members from San Francisco and Paris. Fuze didn’t disclose the deal terms.
The acquisition comes at a time when a number of services are expanding into team collaboration in response to the trend where an increasing number of employees are working from home, or from remote locations.
Evernote last fall, for example, rolled out a new “work chat” feature to make its service more collaborative. Dropbox more recently has been testing a collaborative note-taking service called Dropbox Notes. Enterprise software company Atlassian also earlier this month bought a team chat service called Hall to beef up its HipChat product. And late last year, enterprise content collaboration company Huddle raised $51 million more to grow its business. Even WebEx owner Cisco is looking for ways to modernize team collaboration with its newer offering Cisco Spark.
Of course, many organizations are still content to file-share and collaborate using a variety of disjointed services, including Microsoft Office, Google Drive, Box, Slack, Yammer, and other web-calling, conferencing and project management solutions.
That means Fuze will have a lot of competition as it enters the broader team collaboration space going forward.