Telefónica Digital Acquires Video Chatting Tool TokBox to Bolster Live Video Offerings

Today Spanish wireless carrier Telefónica Digital, which has its headquarters in the UK, announced today its acquisition of San Francisco-based TokBox, creators of OpenTok, a video communications platform that lets companies add video chatting into their websites and mobile applications. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Founded in 2007, TokBox release the OpenTok Video Platform in 2010, and has seen customers like American Idol, Ford, and Diet Coke implement its technology. It claims to be the first to add video chat to an iOS application, and also enables video calling in a web browser without the need to install plug-ins. To date, the company has seen over 50,000 developers, websites, and applications integrate its platforms.

Tracy Isacke, Director of Investments for Telefónica Digital and Ian Small, CEO of TokBox both shared that the move is a huge step forward in heping make video chatting a staple in web and mobile apps. “Face-to-face video is accelerating and combining the leading edge of a cloud-based technology like OpenTok with the reach and global scale and carrier-grade dependability of a company like Telefónica and the forward leading mindset of Telefónica Digital really creates something we can really accelerate into the market with and gain adoption,” Small said in an interview.

Telefónica Digital will look to take advantage of TokBox’s technology to add cross-platform web-based video to its existing voice and messaging offerings to its global client base of over 300 million, spread throughout South America and Europe. “One of the key elements is how you can make communications a more seamless process. All of the current options that are available tend to be very clunky and involve being connected to somebody who you may only be connected for a five minute video call. This really allows you use video at a point when its relevant,” Isacke added.

TokBox will continue to operate in its head offices in San Francisco, and will slowly look to integrate while rolling out its service offerings as a subsidiary of the global telecommunications giant. Small noted numerous benefits for the video platform enabler, the first of which being the access to the multitude of channels and reach of Telefónica’s enterprise and consumer focused clients, both of which are of interest to TokBox. In addition Telefónica Digital continues to develop enterprise applications which can now leverage its technology, and finally the integration with Telefónica’s own cloud-based API, called BlueVia, that will now enable a seamless video, voice, and text API service.

The company  has seen an large push in industries like retail, financial services, and healthcare to enable video-based technology for face-to-face interaction.“We’re seeing increasing level of interest in integrating face-to-face video directly into the application, what we’re going to see as the trend is continuing, you’re going to see it health care applications, financial services applications,” Small said. “So its not ‘I have an app open over here on the side, and I also have a browser  open and I’m juggling all these things, there’s not enough space on my phone or iPad,’ why isn’t that an integrated experience? That’s very much the mission that’s driven us.”

TokBox recently worked with 2nd.md, a web app that lets patients connect with leading doctors, and Motilo, an online service that lets friends shop online while video chatting. It also has some developments in the financial sector, something Small said they’d be looking to release down the road. The company’s technology will push to be the provider for an increasing number of companies providing in-app video chat experiences across multi-platform devices. The acquisition now gives TokBox the global infrastructure to take video to the next frontier and help make multi-platform video communication as seamless as possible.

Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan is a Senior Writer and Analyst at BetaKit. A marketing graduate with honors, Humayun's work experience spans the fields of consumer behaviour with noted contributions in an academic paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and market research consulting having coordinated projects for a major financial services client at Decode Inc. More recently he was involved in business strategy as a Business Analyst for an equipment rental outlet and prior in the National Marketing Department at Ernst & Young LLP. He is passionate about emerging and disrupting technology and its ability to transform and create entirely new industries.

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