Think video chat sucks? Rounds agrees, hopes its new Vidyo partnership is the answer

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on December 17, 2013

From The News Desk

With Vine, Instagram Video, and Snapchat, sending moving pictures to friends has become a normal thing people do. Conversely, live video chatting hasn't transcended beyond Skype and Google Hangouts. It's not that companies haven't tried -- far from it -- there just hasn't been a new video product that has been able to out-Skype Skype.

Except, maybe there is.

A few months back Pando's Erin Griffith reported on the Israeli company Rounds and how it could be the Google Hangouts "you've never heard of." Today, the five-year-old company is continuing its charge to gain video chatting supremacy with the announcement of a strategic partnership with Vidyo, a provider of what it calls "personal telepresence for the enterprise."

Rounds offers a product not wholly different from Google Hangouts, allowing friends to video chat with one other. What makes it slightly better is that users can easily share pictures with each other, watch videos together, browse the internet, even play games (the games, according to Rounds' CEO, are similar to Candy Crush). What really stands out is that it is platform agnostic, including mobile. So I can chat with my friends while on my iPhone even if one of them is on a Windows desktop and another is using an Android tablet. The Vidyo integration doesn't necessarily change Rounds' consumer-facing features, but indicates that the company wants to make video chatting part of the everyday digital chatting lexicon.

The company's CEO and co-founder Dany Fishel explained that Vidyo's technology is generally used by large enterprise companies for videoconferences, thus it's powerful and reliable. So Rounds is taking this "enterprise HD solution, [that generally has] all the restrictions and all the barriers that enterprise softwares have" and grafting it on to its own product.

In short, this means that video quality for its users will be better, more reliable, with better fidelity. You know, all of the things you complain about when you have a bad Skype connection or when you try to have a Google Hangout with more than one person.

Fishel hopes this continues Rounds' forward momentum. Last June the company announced it had 8 million users, today that number is at over 10 million, with many of these users teenagers: "ages thirteen to seventeen and eighteen to fourteen are the sweet spots," he said. So maybe Rounds is the answer for that (in my opinion, stupid) argument that 'teenagers aren't using Facebook anymore.'

Fishel added that the Vidyo integration makes it possible to add a more consumer-facing features, such as more interactive games, hopefully better than Candy Crush clones (although I'm sure teenagers love it).

With this strategic partnership, along with a funding round raised earlier this year, the company has raised $10.5 million to date. Vidyo, on the other hand, has raised $132 million since its 2005 launch.

Hopefully, this Vidyo integration will be able to mitigate that moment when you're chatting with someone and her voice begins to sound like a tinny robot trapped in the void. If so, well, that'd really be something.