Verizon cuts off its BlueJeans

US operator Verizon is closing down the video conferencing service it acquired at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, having decided that it can't compete with the likes of Zoom after all.

Mary Lennighan

August 9, 2023

3 Min Read
Verizon cuts off its BlueJeans

US operator Verizon is closing down the video conferencing service it acquired at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, having decided that it can’t compete with the likes of Zoom after all.

Verizon has not made a formal statement on the matter, but industry publication 9to5 Google shared details of an email sent to users of the BlueJeans app that details its plans for closure. It felt the need to use the word ‘sunset,’ but however you dress it up, the message is the same: BlueJeans is out of fashion.

“BlueJeans is an award-winning product that connects our customers around the world, but we have made this decision due to the changing market landscape,” the report quotes Verizon’s email as saying. It goes on to explain that step one of the shutdown process will see free trials of the app and the BlueJeans Basic service level shuttered by the end of this month.

BlueJeans Basic is the free version of the service. The company also offers paid-for subscriptions branded as BlueJeans Pro and BlueJeans Enterprise, but did not refer to them specifically in its email. However, it was pretty clear in its intention – “we have made the difficult decision to sunset our suite of BlueJeans products” – and therefore will likely be in touch with users of those service tiers as well.

It could be that it has a plan to migrate its paid subscribers to one of its own-brand business collaboration tools; we don’t know at this stage.

When it bought BlueJeans in April 2020 – a time when Zoom was a part of just about all our lives, personal and professional – Verizon outlined plans to merge it with its existing unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) offerings, bolstering its B2B portfolio, essentially. It talked up the need for businesses to have high-end collaboration and communications tools, which is hard to argue with.

It’s also difficult to see how much the landscape has really changed since then, as per Verizon’s justification of the decision to close down BlueJeans. People are no longer conducting their personal and social lives entirely digitally, like they were during the pandemic and the various lockdowns, but in the business world, surely that need for collaboration remains.

That being the case, it will be interesting to see what Verizon does with the paid tiers of BlueJeans.

In the meantime, this looks like another example of a major telecoms operator attempting to buy its way into an adjacent business and failing to make it work.

With a reported selling price of around US$400 million, BlueJeans was a relatively modest purchase for Verizon, certainly compared with its ill-fated acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo a few years earlier. Lest we forget, it paid north of $4 billion for each, before selling its entire media business, including the two big name assets and others, for $5 billion in 2021.

To be completely fair to Verizon, many of its peers have made similar, expensive errors of judgement. Arch-rival AT&T famously paid more than $100 billion for Time Warner and more than half that sum for DirecTV less than a decade ago, then failed to capitalise on either purchase. And there have been many others.

BlueJeans is not in the same league. But it has just become another example of a telco buying into a hot business, making it seriously uncool, then selling out again.


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About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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