Former RealNetworks Leaders Jump Into Non-Creepy Video Chat Arena With SocialEyes

Another company trying to leapfrog the inappropriate-lurker element of online video chat is starting its public beta test today at the DEMO conference in Palm Desert, CA.

SocialEyes, a new San Francisco-based startup, is led by a couple very familiar names here in Seattle’s tech scene. The chairman is Rob Glaser and the chief executive is Rob Williams. The two know each other from their RealNetworks days—Glaser is Real’s founder and former CEO (he still serves as chairman) and Williams was a senior vice president.

SocialEyes aims to integrate video chat with the user’s Facebook network, allowing private or public video conversations with groups of people. The company’s press release says it also incorporates a “Twitter-like feed” to monitor video-chat traffic.

It sounds like a major point of SocialEyes is to take the random-connection phenomenon of other video chat services down a notch. The Facebook integration means users would have some kind of stronger social connection to the group chat they’re joining. It could, say, enable you to chat with people in your network of Facebook friends, or with other people who have a shared interest.

Rob Glaser

This kind of idea—trying to filter out random weirdos—is a target for other entrepreneurs in the wake of ChatRoulette’s noted subpopulation of long-distance flashers.

One of those companies is Menlo Park, CA-based vChatter, which bills itself as a safer alternative to ChatRoulette. Chief Executive Will Bunker told Xconomy’s Wade Roush last month that vChatter already had about 4 million regular users.

While SocialEyes is just entering beta, one thing it has attracted is money. The company says it has raised $5.1 million so far, with $4.5 million from a Series A round led by Bellevue, WA-based Ignition Partners and the balance from angel investors.

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