When Groupon took stock of the video-conferencing and collaboration tools being used inside the company, executives were surprised to discover a critical mass of employees who had started using an application called Fuze on their own.
Fuze offers fast setup of HD video-conferences across a variety of devices, with integrated cloud storage and quick content sharing, supporting up to 25 participants at a time for free, and providing extra capacity and features through its premium versions.
After investigating the situation and talking to those employees, Groupon ended up adopting Fuze across the company, integrating with its existing Cisco telepresence hardware and supplanting other web conferencing tools.
If that sounds like Yammer’s viral enterprise adoption model — getting a foot in the door at big companies by first appealing to individual users — it’s no coincidence. San Francisco-based Fuze is led by CEO David Obrand, who was previously Yammer’s chief customer officer, and several other Fuze leaders previously worked at Yammer, as well.
“We’re dealing with some of the same dynamics,” said Obrand in a recent interview (conducted using the Fuze conferencing app), acknowledging the similarities between the Fuze business model and Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2012 for $1.2 billion.
Fuze’s new engineering outpost in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, overlooking the Lake Washington Ship Canal, is stocked with former Microsoft engineers, including past members of the Lync and Skype teams.
This week the company marked a milestone, releasing a new Windows app to accompany its apps for iPad and Mac and its recently released Fuze app for iPhone. New versions of the company’s Android tablet and phone apps are also in the works.
It’s a sign of the times that Fuze targeted the iPad and Mac before Windows, said Amritansh Raghav, a former Microsoft and Google engineering leader who is now Fuze’s senior vice president of engineering and product. In years past, Windows would have been the first priority for such a service, but the new world of work translates into a much wider variety of devices and platforms.
“Now there is a place for players like us who are truly taking a multi-platform, multi-device approach,” Raghav said.
Obrand, who joined the company last year, described the release of the Fuze app for Windows as the culmination of a nine-month transformation of the company, which included the overhaul of its apps and the adoption of a freemium model.
Fuze doesn’t disclose customer numbers but says usage is now approaching 1 million meeting minutes per day.
The company is aiming to disrupt the legacy video conferencing industry and existing web services by making it easy to launch video conferences, quickly share a wide variety of documents, and integrate with existing online services such as cloud storage and calendars.
The system can be used with existing telepresence hardware, but the underlying approach — using mobile devices and apps in conjunction with a cloud service — is designed to make it possible for companies to avoid big infrastructure investments.
The company, formerly known as FuzeBox, has raised $53 million in funding to date, from investors including Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Hermes Growth Partners.
“This contiguous 40 hour work-week, sitting at a desk or at a cubicle, it’s an archaic model that we just don’t see for most of our knowledge workers anymore,” said Obrand. “We have to provide technology that allows you to have immersive collaboration with video and audio on any device, anywhere you are, at any given point in time.”