Video chat firm Paltalk, which provides software and for large-scale, multi-user video chat sessions, has acquired Camfrog, another video chat provider with a large user base in Asia-Pacific. The combination of the two companies will make Paltalk one of the largest overall providers of video chat software in the world.
The acquisition will pretty substantially grow Paltalk’s user base, as Camfrog has been downloaded more than 60 million times over the past five years, making it one of Download.com’s top 10 most downloaded applications during that time. Camfrog is particularly popular in Asia-Pacific, in markets such as China, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. Added those users will give Paltalk a total of 12 million active users around the world.
But while the applications look “remarkably similar” to the user, according to Paltalk CEO Jason Katz, whom I spoke with via phone, there are significant differences both in implementation and strategy. For one thing, while Paltalk operates and routes all video and voice communications over its own servers and network infrastructure, while Camfrog enables users to license the technology and locally host their own video chats. Katz said that Camfrog offloads all its network bandwidth to the user and doesn’t host any video on its own.
Camfrog has also localized its application for multiple foreign markets, something that Paltalk has not yet done (but plans to do before the end of the year). The result has been aggressive takeup of the application, particularly in the Far East.
While there are no expectations that Paltalk will integrate the two technologies in the near-term, Katz said that he believes “video conferencing is video conferencing” and that the company would like to have a standard that would allow Paltalk and Camfrog customers to chat with each other. “We would love to integrate them so that the communities are connected,” Katz said.
Camfrog was founded in 2003, is profitable and “has been for some time,” according to Katz. But the acquisition will enable Paltalk to bring some of its own scale to the equation and could allow it to better monetize the larger user base between the two firms. That could include packaging other software with Camfrog installations, or integrating its Vumber virtual phone service into Camfrog.
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