RealNetworks founder starts Facebook video chat service

The founder of RealNetworks has launched a new social video service that connects with Facebook and lets users chat with multiple friends at once.

Rob Glaser, who founded RealNetworks in 1994 after beginning his career at  Microsoft, has teamed with fellow Microsoft and RealNetworks veteran Rob Williams to found SocialEyes, a video service that presented at IDG's DEMO Spring 2011 conference Monday in Palm Desert, Calif.

IN PICTURES: 20 awesome tech products at DEMO

Williams, who is CEO of SocialEyes, said the startup is solving the problem of "how to create a spontaneous collaboration environment when most people are somewhere else."

SocialEyes is now available in a free beta. Williams and Glaser demonstrated how users can use their Facebook accounts to log onto SocialEyes, scan a list of friends and then chat with several at once. A user can also mute or unmute friends in order to have private conversations, or record video messages for those who are offline to view later.

Since users may want to chat with people who aren't their Facebook friends, SocialEyes is setting up groups where people with common interests can meet and chat. Both video- and text-only instant messaging chats are available, as is the ability to share information and links with multiple friends at once.

"SocialEyes Groups connects people based on specific topics. Users can join or start as many groups as they like so they can easily connect to like-minded individuals around common interests, hobbies, Facebook networks, families or anything else," the company says.

Glaser is serving as chairman of SocialEyes, and from 1994 until 2010 was the CEO of RealNetworks, which created such technologies as RealPlayer and RealVideo. Glaser remains chairman of RealNetworks.

SocialEyes has raised $5.1 million in venture capital from Ignition Partners, Maynard Webb and angel investors.

Glaser said SocialEyes is "a category-defining product," combining "four powerful elements for the first time -- the Facebook Social Graph, no-download Flash Video, a group system that lets people easily connect with other people in meaningful ways, and a Twitter-like feed -- to create a brand new kind of social video experience."

SocialEyes is one of 50 or so companies demonstrating new products and services at DEMO Monday and Tuesday. Intriguing products include ecoATM, an ATM-like machine that recycles electronics and pays out users in cash; flyRuby.com, an online service for booking private jets; and MindWave BrainCubed Education Bundle, which combines educational games with a headset that reads a user's brain activity.

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