Highfive Continues Investment in its Award-Winning Video Platform to Support Global SMB Market During COVID-19 Pandemic

31 Jul 2020

In its ongoing mission to make video conferencing ubiquitous, Highfive today announced it has been rolling out feature enhancements that are helping customers thrive by reimagining their own meeting experiences during these challenging times. As Highfive experienced record usage at the outbreak of the COVID-19 lockdown, ongoing customer feedback has driven the Silicon Valley-based vendor to quickly enhance the platform’s features and capabilities. As small- to medium-size businesses (SMBs) look for long-term video conferencing solutions, it makes good business sense to deploy a full-stack conferencing platform that is economical, easy to install, seamlessly integrates with common workflows and other popular apps, and simple to use—whether at home or in the workplace.

“Freemium offers come with a myriad of limitations in their capabilities, security and control features,” commented Joe Manuele, CEO at Highfive, “and we’re starting to see a shift in businesses looking to purchase paid licenses not just for web conferencing, but also meeting rooms. Our enhancements come at an opportunistic time as competing freemium offers get set to expire and schools plan for the upcoming year. With Highfive, businesses, schools and universities can reduce their cost and complexity by utilizing a single platform from a single vendor that meets all of their communications and collaboration needs.”

Take Control of Large Meetings With Moderated Meetings

With Moderated Meetings, Highfive puts the power in the customer’s hands so they can take control of large meetings, such as all-hands, town halls or virtual training sessions. The meeting moderator manages the listeners, who always join muted to avoid disruptions. If any listener has something to say or share, they raise their hand virtually to speak and then the meeting moderator gives them permission to talk and share their video and content. Always keeping security top of mind, when a moderated meeting goes live, any unauthenticated, or unauthorized, participant will be placed in the waiting room, where the moderator must admit them before joining. Unlike competing solutions that offer this feature as a premium add-on, Moderated Meetings comes bundled with all Highfive subscriptions.

Show Everyone in Your Meetings

Highfive’s Show Everyone view lets participants see up to 12 people simultaneously on screen. When there’s more than 12 people in a meeting, participants can click the left or right arrow buttons to display more friendly faces. The active speaker is labeled and highlighted so participants always know who’s speaking even when their video is turned off. And while seeing everyone on screen has become the de facto viewing experience, having multiple meetings per day can cause meeting fatigue. That’s why Highfive gives end users the option to Show Everyone or only Show Speakers, which displays up to three active participants on screen.

Napa Valley-based Bouchaine Vineyards has reimagined how the winery engages with their existing and new customers during the pandemic. Bouchaine’s creative use of Highfive has led to year-over-year revenue growth, according to Brian Allard, Director of Sales at Bouchaine.

“We’ve got household parties calling in over Highfive to enjoy virtual wine tastings and then people are hanging out together, giving us a chance to create memorable moments with our customers,” said Allard. “The response from existing and new customers has been wonderful, and they continuously are contacting me to do it again. Highfive has given Bouchaine a great platform to engage with customers and local restaurants. We’ve been inviting chefs and sommeliers to our gorgeous, world-class teaching kitchen to host virtual food and wine pairing classes and cooking demos using Highfive’s Moderated Meetings. For smaller groups, Highfive’s Show Everyone really provides an engaging experience that our customers enjoy.”

Localization: Highfive Now in Seven Languages

When the pandemic hit, Highfive and its European go-to-market partner, Orange, launched a new campaign to provide free Highfive web conferencing service to regional startups. Subsequently, Highfive quickly pivoted to localize its user interface (UI) for people whom English is not their primary language. The Highfive desktop/browser app, meeting room apps, and mobile apps have been localized into six additional languages, besides English: French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish and Spanish.

  • For the desktop/browser app and mobile apps, we default Highfive into the user’s default operating system (OS) or browser language, if possible. Users can choose to override this language in their Highfive profile.
  • The language of each meeting room can be set through the admin dashboard.
  • System-generated emails and dial-in voice prompts are on the roadmap to be localized soon.

“Orange has an extremely large and diverse footprint, including customers from all over the world speaking different languages,” said Giles Wake, Managing Director of UK and Europe at Highfive. “End users in Europe rely more heavily on desktop conferencing and meeting rooms to meet whereas Orange customers in the Middle East and Africa leverage their mobile devices to connect and collaborate. Because Highfive is such an agile company, we were able to pivot quickly and localize our UI, from the desktop to meeting room equipment to mobile devices, for improved end user experiences.”

Janus WebRTC Bridge

Highfive was born in the cloud, the first video conferencing company running on AWS hyperscale cloud and the Google Cloud Platform that went all in on WebRTC more than eight years ago. Highfive continues its disruptive, pioneering spirit with a significant update to use the Janus WebRTC bridge server technology. Janus is the component of the WebRTC stack, connecting streams from each client together. Highfive customers benefit from this update with improved frame rates while screen sharing and fewer unexpected disconnects from meetings. Additionally, Janus helps with network and bandwidth optimizations, particularly for low-quality networks. Highfive also expects that using Janus will allow them to more quickly innovate going forward.

Located in Half Moon Bay, California, Studio 4 Pilates is focused on overall wellness for their local coast side clients. Their primary business has always relied on the studio’s physical space. However, the COVID-19 lockdown changed everything and Studio 4 needed a high-quality, extremely reliable video platform that could facilitate and maintain the studio’s sense of community, as Natasha Loeffler-Little explained.

“Having a reliable video platform that gives our clients a sense of being here together and connecting with instructors and one another has been hugely important for everyone involved with Studio 4,” said Loeffler-Little. “And now, Highfive has allowed us to expand Studio 4’s community beyond the Bay Area, providing Pilates classes, nutrition consulting and group wellness coaching to people across the country—a business model which we never thought was possible a few months ago.”

Highfive Flex: Bring Your Own Hardware

Highfive already is seeing an uptick in helping its customers in the U.S., Canada, Europe and parts of the APAC region outfit new meeting rooms with its video conferencing solutions. A value-add is Highfive Flex, which allows customers to bring your own hardware (BYOH) and create smarter spaces for more immersive meetings. With Flex, customers can leverage their existing audio and video investments in larger meeting rooms and easily integrate with Highfive’s meeting room software.

  • Very large spaces, such as auditoriums, or unique spaces, like open kitchens, which have been custom-tuned for acoustics and video, are ideal candidates;
  • Flex runs on both Linux and Windows apps, which is provided by Highfive and gives customers complete control of their new custom Highfive meeting room; and
  • Whether incumbent equipment or customers looking to purchase their own PC equipment with microphones, speakers, and cameras that are appropriate for their rooms’ characteristics, they can now easily connect that equipment to Highfive and operate it as a smart Highfive meeting space.

“These continue to be extremely challenging times,” added Manuele. “Our entire organization remains tightly focused, listening to our customers and partners and providing them with conferencing solutions and plans that makes sense so we can make their jobs easier and more productive. As some businesses slowly return to the office, they need a trusted, agile partner that is able to quickly pivot and meet their needs. The same applies to schools and universities as they look to bring back students and teachers soon. Students should expect a more robust course load than they had in the spring and the Highfive platform, including feature enhancements, like Show Everyone and Moderated Meetings, can help provide more engaging and immersive virtual learning experiences for everyone involved.”

About Highfive

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Highfive has reimagined meetings for businesses worldwide. We’ve improved the ease and quality of business communications and collaboration so teams are empowered to focus on what’s important and get their best work done. Using open-source Web-based communication platforms and protocols, integrating with enterprise-grade workflows, and delivering crystal-clear audio with high-definition video, we’re providing our business customers with exceptional full-stack video conferencing solutions. From the living room to the meeting room, and all the way to the executive boardroom, we’ve got you covered. For more information, visit www.highfive.com.



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