Sunday, August 13, 2023

Jean, why so blue?

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Jean is a common female given name in English-speaking countries. It is the Scottish form of Jane (and is sometimes pronounced that way). It is sometimes spelled Jeaine.

And, Jeans are a type of pants or trousers made from denim or dungaree cloth. Often the term "jeans" refers to a particular style of trousers, called "blue jeans", with copper-riveted pockets which were invented by Jacob W. Davis in 1871 and patented by Davis and Levi Strauss on May 20, 1873.

OK, Google, what is BlueJeans? Ah, not the pants....

BlueJeans by Verizon is a cloud-based video conferencing service. Verizon acquired BlueJeans in 2020 for $400 million. BlueJeans is a top-rated service for online meetings. It offers high-fidelity audio and video, collaboration features, and enterprise-grade security. BlueJeans offers a free plan - BlueJeans Basic - that lets you meet for as long as you want without a time limit or credit card. You can use the BlueJeans mobile app to attend and host conference calls from an iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Verizon plans to shut down BlueJeans in 2024. 

Wait, wut? Did you say........ shut down??? 

Google: Tom, did I stutter? Let's try again:

Verizon is shutting down BlueJeans, its Zoom competitor it acquired in the early days COVID. They sent out an email to BlueJeans customers that said that “we have made the difficult decision to sunset our suite of BlueJeans products.” BlueJeans’ recently introduced free Basic plan and free trial offerings will be discontinued on August 31st, according to the email. That email doesn’t say how long people on BlueJeans’ paid offerings will have access to the company’s services. Verizon didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

BlueJeans was a huge acquisition for Verizon; when the deal was announced in April 2020, CNBC reported that Verizon was going to pay around $400 million for the company. At the time, video conferencing companies like Zoom and BlueJeans were seeing increased usage during the pandemic, but now that many companies have implemented policies bringing workers back to the office, virtual collaboration apps aren’t quite as hot as they used to be.

OK, like they do in the movies.... A FEW YEARS AGO....

Verizon called me and said, "Tom, we see what you did with Zoom. Would you like to sell BlueJeans? Sure, why not. "OK, we'll make you a partner."  Cool.

One week later: "Tom, you should be a DIRECT partner, so that you don't have to buy through distribution." Cool.

One week later: "Tom, you are actually at TIER 1 partner, and your new margin is 30%." Cool. 

One week later: "Tom, you are actually a TIER 1 ELITE partner, so you can offer the entire portfolio of Verizon (not just BlueJeans) to all of NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA." Cool. 

One week later: "Tom, we are thinking about launching something like BlueJeans Academy, to teach mastery of all things BlueJeans. You run the Distance Learning Association, would you be interested in running BlueJeans Academy, for ALL BlueJeans customers? You would be a perfect fit for this...

You mean something like ??? 

OK, like they do in the movies.... PRESENT DAY......

As I write my Sunday Blog, I reflect on the last two years as a Tier 1 ELITE partner for BlueJeans. I would try to "fit that into" almost every conversation... "well, as a TIER ONE ELITE PARTNER:....blah, blah, blah... In the last year, with spiffs, we were making 50% margin. FIFTY PERCENT. Well, that's just nuts.

In May 2020, when Verizon acquired BlueJeans it was a business-focused video app that first launched in 2011. At the beginning of 2022, Google and Verizon partnered to preload the BlueJeans app on (since-discontinued) Glass Enterprise Edition 2 smart glasses sold by Verizon. More recently, BlueJeans gained a free tier this year, opening the app to many more potential customers and competing with the free consumer-ready services of Google Meet and Zoom. As a Tier 1 ELITE partner, I was TELLING THE WORLD to for free - from ME! And then, upgrade to paid, as necessary, when necessary. Again, upgrade to paid through ME

That said, many people in North America were unaware of BlueJeans until they might have joined a meeting via BlueJeans. Suffice it to say BlueJeans didn’t take off in popularity. Verizon seemed to be happy keeping BlueJeans a secret. Must be nice to have so much damn money. Ok, moving on...

This past week, all of the members of NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA using Verizon’s BlueJeans service were sent an email explaining that the app is being “sunset.” The first phase of that shutdown process is that the free trial and the free “BlueJeans Basic” tier will no longer be available as of August 31, 2023. Business customers of BlueJeans will likely be given a longer period to transition off of the platform.

When pressed, the CFO of Verizon said they shut down its video conferencing service BlueJeans due to a "changing market landscape". BlueJeans was never able to gain the same traction as apps like Zoom and Google Meet. Additionally, BlueJeans' user base reportedly declined as workers returned to the office after working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The REASON why Verizon made us (me?) a TIER 1 ELITE partner was because we should know what we are talking about, for all things "remote". We were (still are) the #1 promoter of Zoom in North America. Whenever I was presenting live, or when I was doing keynotes at events, I would say "just call me". Ahem. 

OK, land the plane, Tom. 
In my career, I have learned that no amount of marketing can offset a bad product. Also this: no matter how good the product, without proper marketing, it will fail. 

I spent the last two years telling the world to and proudly hosting LIVE and hybrid events that were  As I write this blog, I STILL think that the BlueJeans technology, the BlueJeans experience is (ah, was) amazing. HD Video. Dolby Audio. No other platform in the industry had that combination, only BlueJeans. 

I respect Verizon's decision. It makes sense on a business level, on a Wall Street level. I get that. Now, I have to get used to saying that I WAS the Tier 1 ELITE partner for all things BlueJeans. Past tense. It was a great ride. 

OK. No more pity party for me. We have work to do - migrating all of our BlueJeans customers over to Zoom. And now we are going to be very busy telling every business and every school in North America to get from Verizon, since the world seems to (once again) be...

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