Illustration for article titled Verizon Closes Deal for BlueJeans, the AOL of Video Conferencing Apps
Screenshot: Bluejeans

With most of the U.S. quarantined and many people working at home, Verizon has officially finalized its acquisition of video conferencing platform BlueJeans.

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For anyone who’s lost track of the myriad of video communication apps such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Lifesize, and others, Bluejeans is yet another teleconferencing service designed to help people and business stay connected online.

In the deal which officially closed on May 15, Verizon will fork over around $400 million for the BlueJeans Network, its 390 employees, and reported 15,000 customers. While Verizon has not released specific plans on how it will integrate BlueJeans into its ever-growing tech portfolio, Verizon has said BlueJeans will be a compliment to its business solutions and in the future will be “deeply integrated” into the company’s 5G product roadmap.

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The potential problem for Verizon is that with Zoom’s meteoric rise during the pandemic to the point that Zoom has practically become synonymous with video chatting in general, BlueJeans is at risk of becoming an also-ran similar to what happened to AOL following the Dot Com bubble in the early 2000s. In an earlier story, Techcrunch (which was acquired by Verizon as part of Verizon’s acquisition of AOL/Yahoo) even said that BlueJeans “had grown as far as it could on its own and went looking for a larger partner to help it reach the next level.”

With Verizon signaling that it has big 5G-related plans in mind for BlueJeans, Verizon could use BlueJeans as a part of a larger effort to provide a full enterprise-level communication suite designed to better compete with offerings from Microsoft and Google, especially as the company continues to build out its 5G wireless network of the future.

As someone who routinely has to use various teleconferencing apps to meet with people online, it’s difficult to highlight as an end-user what advantages BlueJeans offers over competitors including GoToMeeting, Webex, and others. This means it will be critical for Verizon to properly grow and develop BlueJeans, lest its $400 million investment truly does become a lonely yodel in a sea of people talking at their screens.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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