ooVoo strives for spontaneity in video chat

NEW YORK CITY — This city is teaming with startups. Like any good metropolis with considerable talents and clout across entertainment, media, technology, fashion and so much more, the costs of founding a company in New York are often outweighed by the potential return that comes with setting up home base here. “I think there are great opportunities to be in the city,” Phillipe Schwartz, CEO at ooVoo, told RCR Wireless News during our tour stop there last month. "From a cultural point of view, I think it’s a great place… You find unbelievable talents, and very multicultural, and the age group is definitely younger than the average population.”

He noted that many businesses focused on social media and mobile are setting up shop in Silicon Valley, which isn’t the cheapest part of the world either. “At the end of the day it’s about talent. Even if you pay another 30% for the talent, you get really five times more in terms of the value of the talent so it’s worth the investment,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it.“ Amidst all the hype and intensity surrounding social media today, Schwartz noted that cities like New York are the everlasting example of social — the original social epicenters. "I think there is a lot of things that are mimicking the way we are doing business — I think it’s a great place to be,” he continued. It’s an important distinction for ooVoo, because while the five-year-old company is competing against the likes of Skype as a video chat provider it’s promoting and highlighting more of an untethered, always-on use case for its platform. With 25 million users on PC, Mac, web, and now increasingly mobile, Schwartz said that the company is adding about 1.5 million users every month. More than 60% of ooVoo’s user base is in the United States and 67% are under 24 years old. "What truly is interesting from a social phenomenon is really how people are using it. It’s much more than I’m just going to call you, it’s more going to be with you on the Internet, which is manifested by the amount of time that people are spending on video communication in that sense,” he said. “Average video conversation is 20 minutes. Kids can stay connected all night to do their homework together, or create their band or dance or whatever it is. There is much more of that hanging out together that is kind of being promoted by our product, by our platform, by our service, more than I’m going to call you at 3 o'clock to talk about whatever a business matter or I’m going to a movie tonight.” To him and hopefully most of ooVoo’s users, the experience is “a much more spontaneous way of being together on the Internet.” The mobile applications were only added to the mix earlier this year and they now account for 10% of ooVoo’s usage. “Mobile is becoming the more and more important element of the mix of what we are offering and how we get our users,” Schwartz said before giving us a demonstration of the product (available on video below). “We definitely see in the near future where this is going to become a more balanced user base.” Finally, he added, “I think there is also another force here that is driving video chat on mobile, which is the expectation from users to be always connected.“

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