How to Use Tokbox and Spam Your Friends

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[qi:035] As a big believer in real-time interactions, I was excited to read about TokBox, a new startup that just received $4 million in funding from Sequoia Capital and has the blessing of the very same people who were involved with YouTube (GOOG), including YouTube’s third co-founder, Jawed Karim. (Though that doesn’t ensure success!)

By leveraging Flash features that connect to a computer’s built-in webcam and sound card, TokBox allows you to conduct web chats via a web browser, without the need to boot up a special program. And the web chat module can be embedded into your blog or social networking profile.

It’s an interesting idea, but more of a feature than a platform for a standalone company or model for a viable, long-term business. Even without chatting with the company, it’s clear that this is an idea that can be quickly imitated by others, much like YouTube. If (and that’s a big if) TokBox is going to work, it will need to be rapidly adopted by the marketplace.

At that point, Sequoia can easily flip it to someone. If this is a modest success, then Cisco Systems (CSCO), which is looking to add some video oomph to its WebEx property, could fit the bill. If it’s a monster consumer hit, then Google’s (GOOG) YouTube could be a buyer.

But in order for TokBox to become a monster consumer hit, the company needs to fix its technology. I have been spammed non-stop this morning: 157 messages so far, all because a close friend signed up with TokBox and wanted to share it with me. No thank you, friend! For the sake of our friendship, please don’t share untried services with me. I am really not in the mood to be a guinea pig this Monday morning.

And to the rest of you who are thinking about trying TokBox: don’t. Not until these kids figure out what the problem is.

From WebWorkerDaily: Anne Zelenka says no thanks to video conferencing for web workers.

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