BlueJeans, a video conferencing company, was founded in 2010 by Krish Ramakrishnan and Alagu Periyannan (Goa, 89), technology professionals with a background in companies like Apple and Cisco. The motivation behind starting BlueJeans was to simplify video conferencing, make it as easy as audio conferencing and address the lack of interoperability among different video systems at the time.
BlueJeans differentiated itself from competitors like Microsoft, Cisco, and Zoom by focusing on interoperability and allowing users to join meetings using various apps and devices. Within its first five years, BlueJeans achieved significant growth, reaching $100 million in revenue and was eventually acquired by Verizon in 2020.
The journey of building BlueJeans into an attractive acquisition involved several key milestones. The company's strong growth and revenue generation caught the attention of Verizon, leading to a reseller partnership and eventually an acquisition agreement. The acquisition was completed in early 2020, coinciding with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which further increased the demand for video-conferencing solutions.
As the founder and CTO of BlueJeans, Alagu faced various technical challenges in developing and scaling the cloud-based video conferencing service. One major challenge was achieving interoperability with one of the most popular video apps, Skype and its closed system. To overcome this, BlueJeans utilized the Skype TV SDK and developed a wrapper application to enable compatibility with different devices and platforms. Additionally, scaling the service during the pandemic required rapid capacity expansion of 4x capacity in 2 weeks in March 2020, coordination with Amazon AWS to get additional burst capacity in multiple datacenters regions, and transitioning the entire company into working remotely while keeping operations running 24x7 using a virtual war room setup.
Mr. Alagu Periyannan, acknowledges the influence of his educational background on his entrepreneurial journey. The entrepreneurial culture at BITS, with its hands-on leadership experience in various activities & events and flexibility for exploration without mandatory attendance, played a significant role in his success.
Looking toward the future, the video conferencing industry is expected to evolve with the continued growth of remote work and virtual collaboration. Alagu anticipates advancements in AI, such as AI assistants, automated meeting recording and summarization, and enhanced communication tools. He also foresees the integration of virtual reality for more immersive collaboration experiences, particularly in industries that require equipment demonstration and training.
Since the acquisition of BlueJeans, he has taken time off to decompress and pursue personal interests such as sailing, skiing and travel. However, he is now considering new ventures and ideas, engaging with other entrepreneurs, participating in angel investing, and exploring startup ecosystems globally.
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Mr. Periyannan advises taking risks early in their career, and recognizing the opportunities available in India rather than other parts of the world for building successful companies. He encourages focusing on the Indian market for B2C startups and targeting the global market for B2B startups while staying in India. He also expresses a willingness to give back to his alma mater, BITS Pilani, and intends to visit their campuses in Goa and Hyderabad, in addition to the Pilani campus. He is now involved in angel investing and advising entrepreneurs from all three campuses and is also a key member of the BITS Spark Angel fund/network.
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