Facebook is bringing Portal video chat devices to the office, taking on Zoom and Skype

Key Points
  • Facebook says its Workplace service for businesses will now work on Portal video chat devices.
  • Zoom has brought a lot of attention to the videoconferencing market since its IPO earlier this year.
  • Portal and Workplace make up a tiny portion of Facebook's overall revenue.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 Facebook Developers conference on April 30, 2019 in San Jose, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Facebook is taking its Portal video chat gadgets to the business world, trying to grab a bigger slice of the videoconferencing market, where Zoom, Cisco Webex and Microsoft's Skype are among the leaders.

Facebook announced on Tuesday that Workplace, its communication and collaboration service for companies, will work with Portal devices, which so far have been marketed for consumers. People who own a Portal and use Workplace in the office will be able to combine the two to make video calls to colleagues.

"Even with the first generation of the device, we started seeing a lot of people asking to be able to call in to work calls," Karandeep Anand, Facebook's head of Workplace, told CNBC.

The videoconferencing space has received a healthy amount of attention this year, following Zoom's IPO, which rocketed the company up to a $21 billion market cap. Global Market Insights expects the market to reach $20 billion in revenue by 2024.

While Zoom, in its IPO prospectus, highlighted competition from Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and Google, it said that "other large established companies like Amazon and Facebook have in the past and may in the future also make investments in video communications tools." Workplace already allows for video chat within the app on a smartphone or computer.

If you haven't previously heard of Workplace or Portal, you aren't alone. The two products are among the newer pieces of Facebook's portfolio. They're part of the payments and other fees business segment, which accounted for less than 2% of total revenue in the latest quarter.

Facebook on Tuesday announced that Workplace, its communications tool for companies, will now be supported on Portal, its line of video-chatting smart-home devices.

Facebook launched Workplace in late 2016 as a communications tool for businesses. Workplace says it has more than 3 million paid users, up from 2 million in February, and customers include Nestle, Telefonica and Petco.

Portal hit the market in late 2018 as a video calling device that can also play music. The company announced its second generation of Portal devices in September. Facebook has never disclosed usage numbers for Portal, but IDC estimates that Facebook has shipped just over 54,000 Portal devices since its launch.

Anand said that Workplace is still more focused on reaching users than ramping up revenue.

"That has not been the driving force for the team," he said. "It's been to bring these important work tools to hundreds of millions of people, but my personal aspiration is that we build tools for 1 billion people."

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