Facebook rolls out Skype video chat, from Seattle team

Philip Su, an engineer from Facebook's Seattle office, demos the video chat feature in Palo Alto today.

Facebook is rolling out a new video chat feature for its users in partnership with Skype, developed in Facebook’s Seattle engineering office, that aims to give its users a one-click method of talking via video with other users on the social network.

The free feature was announced via webcast from Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley this morning. It is apparently the “awesome” service that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg teased during his visit to Seattle last week — although he took things up a notch during the actual announcement — calling it “super awesome.”

Philip Su, a Facebook software engineer based in the Seattle office (who joined Facebook from Microsoft last year), demonstrated the feature by making a live video call to the team back at the company’s engineering office across from Pike Place Market.

Skype video chat is starting as a one-to-one feature, but Skype CEO Tony Bates said during the news conference that it’s a first step in the partnership. Separately, Facebook today also unveiled a new group text chat feature that will let users quickly communicate with multiple people simultaneously.

The partnership between Facebook and Skype also has implications for Microsoft, which is in the process of acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion and is a minority shareholder in Facebook.

Update: Here’s a Facebook post detailing the new features. The company says video chat will be available in the coming weeks, but eager early adopters can get started with a download here.

Also of note: During his remarks, Zuckerberg mentioned almost offhandedly that Facebook has now reached 750 million users.

FOLLOW-UP: Zuckerberg: Microsoft deal gives Skype a ‘sense of stability’ in Facebook’s eyes

 

  • Guest

    Any details on how this is being financed? Are FB and MS sharing the costs? FB paying MS? Other? Seems like the win for FB is obvious, but the one for MS is less clear. They may get more traffic, but many of those customers will likely be the non-paying variety, and the extra burden of voice+video on the server backend could be quite costly, especially for a service that has never turned a profit.

    • Bob

      No money going to MS apparently, at least initially.

  • Guest

    Kudos to the Seattle team on a job well done! I can’t wait to “hang out” with my friends using Microsoft Skype technologies.

  • Amanda Sparling

    Skype + Facebook = Dream Team. Video Chat is already live! Walk-through it here: http://bit.ly/p5BKBj

  • Thomas

    Hi Todd, any thoughts on how this will affect Rob Glaser’s new startup SocialEyes? Not sure if it was you or John that originally covered that startup on TF. 

    • johnhcook

      I wrote about SocialEyes. That’s a good point. I should check into what they are up to and get their thoughts on this integration.