RealNetworks’ Glaser Launches Video Chat Service SocialEyes

RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) founder Rob Glaser’s latest project: a video chat startup. SocialEyes, which launches today, lets users find friends or strangers with a common interest and video chat with them. Glaser is chairman, while Rob Williams, who was formerly an SVP at RealNetworks, is CEO. The two men are co-founders.

SocialEyes users link their accounts with their Facebook profiles so they can see and contact friends who also have accounts. Users can video chat simultaneously with several contacts — and also send video messages to friends who are not logged in. They can also find strangers who have similar interests.

In an interview, Williams said the startup hopes to capitalize on the ubiquity of video cameras on new computers, as well as the changing way people collaborate with one another. I asked Williams what happens when Facebook itself launches a video chat system — as has long been rumored. He responded that he envisions that a product from Facebook will focus on one-to-one communication and therefore be more of a competitor to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Talk than SocialEyes.

The startup has raised $5.1 million, including $4.5 million in a round led by Ignition Partners. Glaser, who resigned as RealNetworks’ CEO in January 2010, subsequently joined VC firm Accel Partners as a venture partner, but Williams said that while SocialEyes could have raised the cash from Accel, it chose to do the deal with Ignition because it was able to do the deal “faster.”