StarLeaf takes $40M to keep growing its videoconferencing as a service business

UK teleconference company StarLeaf, which sells cloud-based video and conferencing services to businesses, has taken on its first external capital close to a decadeafter first being founded, back in 2008. The $40 million round is co-led by Highland Europe and Grafton Capital.

StarLeaf, which was founded by three telecoms and video conferencing entrepreneurs who together previously founded and sold three other networking companies (Madge Networks, Calista and Codian), started selling cloud services to customers in 2013 and saysusage of its platform is now doubling year over year.

Its sales pitch is interoperability with every third-party meeting/conferencing technology, atop afully owned and operated global video comms network, called the StarLeaf OpenCloud platform. It says this network has full redundancy and duplication across its eight points of presence across North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia;industry standard AES-128 encryption covering all video conferences and calls; exceptional quality of service and call quality regardless of network, via use of technologies such as resilient codecs and dynamic bandwidth management; a single dashboard-based management portal for granularly controlling deployments; anda focus on offering user-friendly, richend-point features such as screen sharing; the ability to transfer video calls to other users; the ability to add more participants to a one-to-one video call; a centrally managed address book andso on.

With the pitch on the functionality frontof its platformbeing its offering cloud-basedcapabilitiesthat mightotherwise only be available to businessesinvesting hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive on-premise video infrastructure.

Underpinning its platformarchitectureis a clear conviction that video communication is of growing importance to businesses for example, it notes that two-thirds of its 100 million+ annual call minutes aread hoc point-to-point video calls between users, rather than scheduled meetings. (Though of course the network also supports audio-only comms.)

StarLeaf says itsplatform is currently being sold into50 countries worldwide, with what it dubs a rapidly growing enterprise client base in Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, especially over the past two years noting for example that itssigned up 150 new clients with 1,000+ employees in 2016 vs 65 in 2015. At this point it says it hasmore than 1,000 customers, including the likes of Travelex, Bose, and Dr Martens.

Thenew funding will be used to support thisgrowth momentum including by investing in its Asia Pacific business to step up activity there. It says its also intending to double its 130-strong headcount in the next 18 months having done the same in the past 18 months.

Commenting on the funding in a statement, Laurence Garrett, partner at Highland Europe, said: StarLeaf has built its solution from the ground up which gives it a real advantage in ease of use and quality. It offers real interoperability between different vendors which is unique in this market place and is delivering really high quality calls and a brilliant level of service.

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