What's There to TokBox?

nullBain Capital must be psychic. Apparently they’ve looked into the future and seen that TokBox, a San Francisco-based startup, will either grow into a large company or find a buyer for what is essentially a Flash-based, in-browser video chat service that’s gotten marginal traction. Sure, the company has a new desktop client that allows you to video chat with anyone, but then so does my iChat.

Bain Capital has led a $10 million investment in TokBox. The move comes less than a month after the company named a new CEO, Nick Triantos, who has worked for many tech firms, but has never before held that title.

The company launched in October 2007 and has thus far raised a total of $14 million from Bain and early investors Sequoia Capital. Scott Friend, Venture Partner at Bain Capital Ventures, in a press release announcing the Series B round, said:

“The company is executing well…We are excited to be investing with our partners at Seqouia in a company we believe has the potential to be the next ‘big thing’ in web communication.”

Just to put his words into context, TokBox recently fired its founder and CEO, Serge Faguet. And according to Compete.com, they had about 179,000 visitors in the month of July, though they did sign a deal with Meebo that stands to get them some traction. (For a list of their competitors, check out NewTeeVee’s round-up of video chat applications.)

From the way I understand it, TokBox is using the built-in video capture capabilities in Flash player combined with the Flash media server to offer in-browser video conferencing. When the company launched, I pointed out that it was an “interesting idea, but more of a feature than a platform for a standalone company or model for a viable, long-term business. If (and that’s a big if) TokBox is going to work, it will need to be rapidly adopted by the marketplace.” Rapid adoption hasn’t quite happened, however, and I wonder if it ever will.

But again, the guys at Bain must be able to look into the future better than us skeptics.

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