Five Types of WebRTC Companies

December 31, 2012

If you will look at the different companies who are doing something with WebRTC, you will find them grouped into 5 different company types.

This is the last post of 2012 on my behalf. It was an interesting year to say the least, and somehow, a lot of it here on this blog revolved around WebRTC. About half a year ago, I started jotting down the names of companies who are doing something with WebRTC – not the vendors who develop the browsers (Google, Mozilla, Opera, Ericsson, Microsoft ?) or just promote the technology (AT&T, Cisco and others); but instead those that have a specific product or service in the works.

It started with a handful of those and a couple of weeks ago it passed the 50 mark. Looking at what these companies are doing, I see them clustered in 5 main groups today:

  1. Acquirers
  2. VoIP’ers
  3. Hosters
  4. API’ers
  5. Stitchers


Close to the end of the year, it seemed like companies are willing to pay money for early stage startups (and a grown startup as well) in order to enter the web browser video calling arena.

The ones we had this year in this category include Telefonica, Jive and Yahoo.

These acquisitions were done early in the game of WebRTC and they say less about WebRTC and more about the missing components and plans of each of these companies. Telefonica acquired an API’er, Jive and Yahoo a Hoster.

What will we see in 2013? Probably more acquisitions.


The VoIP’ers are companies that have been in the business of VoIP for several years already – not the founders of the companies but the companies themselves.

Twilio? They did VoIP prior to adding a bit of WebRTC. Voxeo as well. [These two also fall into the API’ers category]

Blue Jeans and Vidtel are companies that focus on multipoint video calling from any device to any device. Both added WebRTC to allow web browser access to just conferences as well.

Digium can be placed here as well, with their WebRTC support in Asterisk.

Next year will be the year when at least one or two other established VoIP players join the fray as well.


Hosters are companies that have built their own service from scratch – either starting with Flash or a plugin and shifting to WebRTC or doing it all from the ground up on WebRTC.

This is where the majority of the companies today are. They include frisB, Twelephone, TenHands, Drum, Bistri and others. [Drum started from web and VoIP and added WebRTC just because it made sense. I think they are more a Hoster than a VoIP’er].

Usually these companies have a lot of knowledge and experience in VoIP from their past life and they are leveraging the gaps they know that exist in VoIP with their new WebRTC ideas.

Next year there will be more such companies coming out of stealth, and probably a lot more of these that I will be interviewing.


API’ers are at a crossroads of 3 over-hyped terms:

  1. Cloud
  2. API
  3. WebRTC

API’ers provide telephony APIs with WebRTC support: There is no wonder then that in this area there are so many companies that have decided to build their whole solution around WebRTC or to add it to their existing telephony API platform.

Companies here? Twilio, Voxeo, Telefonica (from the TokBox acquisition), AddLive and others.

For this group, there is going to be a need for differentiation, as their competition is going to be fierce.

Expect an interview with an API’er in the next couple of weeks.


The stitchers are companies that have an idea for a service and they just want to focus on it. To that end, they don’t really care about how the technology gets implemented (they do, but bear with me) – they just want it to work. And to that end, they are willing to “outsource” that effort to an API’er.

An example? Wello. There are more – go search in the websites of the API’ers for them under “customers”.

Next year we will see this group growing considerably, as more API’ers are available to provide this service and reduce the headache of all the WebRTC plumbing that is required.

The links on the company names above? Most go to the interviews I did with companies of these type. I tried interviewing different types of companies to give my readers here different viewpoints and perspectives of the various entrepreneurs that are working on WebRTC solutions. I plan on doing more of these in the future.

See you all back here in 2013.

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