Insider Report June 2022
The Most Important Enterprise Communications News from June 2022
Wow, the world has changed a lot. Last month I wrote about several reversals in trends. This month is full speed ahead on a new rudder. Or old rudder? Seems Donald Trump dominated the news in June, between the January 6th hearings and SCOTUS rulings.
The economy is quite the question mark. Zuck is panicked. Musk is using return to office as a means of layoffs. Things were so much better back when …. When? It’s not clear when something changed. Was it inflation, supply chains, or is all this due to COVID, or COVID stimulus? Was it the Russia-Ukraine conflict? And why is it so darn hot?
Predicting the past is hard enough. I prefer to predict the future, and I am very good at it. Future predictions are easy (cars will fly), but timing is a bitch.
Whatever this is (correction, recession, over-reaction?), it will end. Let’s start with inflation. Retail inventories are high. Warehouses are overflowing, especially in the discretionary categories such as furniture. I predict prices will soon drop. Many of the headlines have quietly fixed themselves: The trucker shortage ended, used car prices just dropped to what they were two years ago, and lumber just dropped 30%. We just hit an all-time low in “intermodal freight” rates, and the GPU shortage ended.
It’s actually nice to see some layoffs because the constant news about the super-tight employment market was getting dull. However, some things take longer than hiring and firing. The airlines just finished bribing their employees to retire, and aviation capacity takes years to restore.
This is one of the reasons why all this “sell your video stocks” is nonsense. First, aviation is a mess; and second, there’s a mass rebellion occurring over returning to the office. Factor in the cost of gas for commuting and the likelihood that at least one team member isn’t returning, and online meetings are looking like one of the few things we can predict.
Despite my optimism, things are not good. The Dow just booked its worst 1H since 1962. That’s a legitimate headline, and it wasn’t foreseeable six months ago. In other words, things could improve. Yes, I know gas prices are high, and it’s terrible for many people. Can you imagine how much worse this gas shortage would be if everyone was commuting? I figure it’s OK, though, because we need to reduce demand for gas anyway.
Events and travel are up despite COVID cases being up too. We are in what is likely the new normal of living with the virus. The pandemic caused everyone to reevaluate things: where they work, where they live, what they do, how they order (drive-thrus are in), and more. Everything is up for grabs, and nothing can be assumed.
The problem is that change itself is a cause of stress. There’s always some natural resistance to change, but so much recent change is creating (almost) comical behavior. Just look at EVs, which touch everything (commuting, gas prices, supply chains, freight, and more).
North Carolina is so upset about the shift to EVs that it’s considering a bill to require any business that offers charging to also offer gasoline pumps. Can you imagine a bill that says any business that offers Wi-Fi must also offer a wired Ethernet connection? Another form of EV protest comes from the ICE-ers that block charging stations. It was so much easier to just tilt at windmills.
Things are bleak in many regards, but many of the fundamentals of UCC (and crypto) remain unchanged. Chin up.
General Industry News
You Will Have to Enjoy the Metaverse Virtually: There’s so much misplaced excitement about the metaverse. It’s very similar to the hype around Second Life about a decade ago. It will have lots of value, but not in 2022 or for several more years. That’s why I wasn’t surprised that Apple didn’t announce its highly anticipated new AR glasses at WWDC this month. Either they aren’t ready, or the market isn’t. Duh.
Meta has also apparently pushed back its plan to launch a series of more capable demonstrator devices over the next few years. There is a primary optics question, and then a chip/sensor/software problem, and then an AI problem. You don’t need special glasses to see this tech is going to take some time. Meta also seems to be downplaying its Portal video appliances. They are impressive products, but Meta is a software company — or services or something meta — not hardware.
The IE Era: This month, Microsoft finally retired Internet Explorer. I’ve got two things to say about this.
First, why did IE have to die? The common answer is because it sucked. Lots of products suck, and the better response is to fix them. Most of the Chevy Corvettes in the ’80s sucked, but it’s now one of the most interesting products Chevy sells. Windows 7 (and 8) sucked, but Windows 10 was compelling. It’s usually better to fix brands than start over. Microsoft knows this. I used Word, then Word for Windows, then WinWord, and now Word again. I don’t understand why Edge couldn’t be IE 10?
Another point has to do with the misleading headlines that refer to IE’s retirement as “the end of an era.” It isn’t. The era is alive and well. I’m referring to Microsoft using its bundles to kill innovation. IE killed Netscape; then, without competitive pressures, IE became stagnant, like Outlook. The era of anticompetitive behavior from Microsoft’s Office bundles continues — most recently, Teams and Slack, and currently Teams and UCaaS.
Cisco Live: Cisco hosted the first big conference I’ve been to since early 2020. All of these virtual events somewhat blur together. Anyone can put on a good virtual event (not all do). There are simply not that many companies that can fill up Mandalay Bay.
The Webex team had a three-pronged attack plan for Cisco Live. It organized its content into re-imagined workspaces, flexible workstyles, and security and manageability. Flexible workstyles is code for WfA. They had new room solutions, new meeting features within Webex, and improved interop. They had solutions for offices, bedrooms, kitchens, cars, spacecraft, and more.
Regarding Flexible Workstyles, the newest toy was an updated IP videophone called the 8875. Their desktop camera phone needed a revision (bigger screen, better camera, cloud-ready …). Filed under unexpected was a new video editor that edits the transcript rather than the video. It’s essentially true-fake metered by the Webex authentication framework.
What was really on display was a transformed Webex. The organization has undergone significant changes during the pandemic, including leadership, portfolio, acquisitions, and more.
1Password Collaboration: Password managers are impressive applications whose existence was once hard to imagine. A networked app that manages secure passwords seems incompatible with an internet designed to suck up user information. It’s a clever use of encryption and private keys that seems to avoid the same scrutiny as messaging apps.
1Password raised the bar in two notable ways this month. First, the app now securely shares files and documents with just a link. It’s a form of collaboration that the collaboration industry missed (collab isn’t just about calling, texting, and meetings). With 1Password, the recipient doesn’t need to use 1Password to access files; access only requires a link. The app also supports expiration dates and one-time links.
Another interesting new (beta) feature from 1Password is managing SSO services. It will remind users if they previously logged in with SSO from Google, Apple, Microsoft, or an actual email and password combo.
Leadership Changes: Bandwidth announced Karl Perkins has joined the company as Chief Innovation Officer, a newly created position. Perkins, like his boss at Bandwidth, has experience from Avaya and Tata. While Bandwidth’s hand is getting stronger, the bigger story is the drain occurring at Avaya, where the tremendous rate of turnover is accelerating. Ankush Gangwani, who was named Global VP and GM of Enterprise Business Portfolio at Bandwidth, also brings experience from Tata.
Olga Kibler joined Five9 as its new Chief People Officer. She brings experience from DocuSign, where she served as a Vice President of Talent Services. Alvaria announced Jeff Cotten as its new CEO. Tim Dahltorp, who has been interim CEO as well as Chief Financial Officer since February, will continue as CFO. Most recently, Jeff was CEO at Tenfold, a VC-backed startup. Prior to Tenfold, Jeff spent 10 years at Rackspace.
Javier Soltero is leaving Google Workspace. He joined in 2019 and led significant changes, including the rebranding of G Suite to Workspace, the death of Hangouts and launch of Chat and Meet, significant updates to Meet, and the termination of legacy free services (to TalkingPointz). Soltero is credited with increasing Google Workspace MAU more than 50% over the last three years. Perhaps Javier’s biggest accomplishment was his appearance on TalkingHeadz.
Meetings and Messaging
Dell and Samsung Displays: Dell and Samsung have released new WfH, all-in-one 32” displays. The Dell is $1,600 and the Samsung is $800 — both are bargains compared to the Apple Studio, which is $1,500 for a 27” screen. What all of these monitors have in common is built-in and decent AI-powered video. They also contain microphones and speakers. HP is probably waiting to close on its acquisition of Poly. I think the Apple Studio display is one of the most exciting products I’ve seen from Apple in a while. Not only does it have nice specs, but it’s going to revolutionize the neglected desktop monitor.
Samsung, of course, went too proprietary. It loaded Tizen to enable a kiosk mode. For example, you can edit docs on M365 without a PC. Of course you can’t edit GDocs, though, as Tizen is incompatible, although Tizen does support DeX.
Mio: Zoom Chat users can now use Mio for messaging interop with Microsoft, Teams, Slack, and Webex. Last December, Mio announced an $8.7M investment led by Zoom and Cisco. I like Mio, but what became of Sameroom after 8x8 acquired it?
New Picture for Slack: Slack Huddles, introduced last June, provides an audio-conferencing channel in Slack. It brings the power of voice to Slack channels and DMs. Slack built Huddles with the AWS Chime SDK. Huddles was a hit (voice rules). Nearly 44% of Slack’s paying enterprise customers use Huddles on a weekly basis, and it generates a combined 243M minutes per week.
Amazon announced it is expanding Huddles into a “coworking virtual space” with several new features, including video. Slack is expected to finally be more Teams/Webex/Zoom-like this fall. This puts Slack and Zoom on a collision course as the two share a lot of customers. It also might mean that Zoom actually starts marketing Zoom Chat, a fairly robust messaging platform that Zoom rarely talks about.
If Slack does pull video out of its hat, that means we have yet another enterprise video player — one that is endorsed by Amazon and Salesforce. Slack says Huddles video will support blurred backgrounds, screen sharing (multiple users simultaneously), emoji, and stickers. No word yet on room systems, but I hear Cisco Webex gear is compatible with Chime. Or Slack will go down the Android route with products such as the Poly Studio X30.
Loom: Loom laid off 34 employees, about 14% of its total staff. The asynchronous video company hit 1.8M users across 50K businesses three years after founding. Its website now claims 14M users across 200K companies. Async video makes a lot of sense, but most UCaaS companies don’t offer it. Webex recently launched Vidcast.
Viva Grows: Viva is essentially a “Web 3-like” distributed HRIS, built on Teams. It is something like a nex-gen intranet for HR policies and communications. Microsoft Teams has elements of an operating system, platform, and application.
This month, Microsoft announced Viva Sales, and guess what it does? “Viva Sales … represents a new way of working by breaking down silos of data and breaking down silos of experience,” said Emily He, CVP in charge of business applications at Microsoft. She continued, “Viva Sales enables a seller to use the tools they already love and use every day, including your email system, like Outlook, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, as well as Teams.”
Basically, the employee portal becomes part of workflow, and guess the price? It’s free for Microsoft Dynamic 365 customers (Salesforce users must pay for it). Viva Sales will be available in public preview in July and is scheduled to GA in the fall.
Telegram 700M: Telegram reported over 700M MAU. The provider also announced a premium tier with additional features as the messaging platform explores monetization. The monthly subscription appears to be priced in the range of $4.99 to $6. According to the company, Telegram Premium enables users to send files as large as 4GB (up from 2GB) and supports faster downloads, for instance. Paying customers will also be able to follow up to 1,000 channels, up from 500 offered to free users, and create up to 20 chat folders with as many as 200 chats in each.
Duo Meet Meet: It’s about that time again — time for Google to change its video strategy. The new plan is for Duo to merge into Meet. Duo is more associated with phones, and Meet is more associated with Gmail, so Google thinks merging the two can create a video/chat super-app that’s savvy to all kinds of addresses. Meanwhile, Meet and Chat are also getting cozier. Essentially, Google is recreating Hangouts, the app it just killed.
Google can’t seem to make up its mind, but in its defense, it’s trying to figure out how best to service SMB-Enterprise and consumer with one app that’s both free and paid. It’s hard but doable. Zoom has done it for years, and Microsoft is not far behind.
No More Talk: Google is shutting down Talk (also known as GChat) for good. This is its XMPP IM/P solution that was replaced by Hangouts around 2007. For most people, Talk died some time ago, but it has been accessible by XMPP clients such as Pidgin and Gajim.
I did like Google Talk. It was one of the more open initiatives that came out of Google. Microsoft took advantage of this openness to recruit Gmail clients into its empire. Google responded by replacing Talk with Hangouts, which was far more proprietary and closed.
Teams Direct Guest Join: Microsoft has a new interop trick called Direct Guest Join (DGJ) that allows Zoom Rooms to join Teams meetings. It’s certainly an improvement but not an interoperability standard. It’s more of an invitation (to Zoom) to integrate with Teams. Microsoft tends to prefer interoperability by invitation rather than open protocols.
Realistically, interop doesn’t need to be hard any more. Most room systems are essentially platforms that run slightly modified Windows, Android, or browser-based clients. It would not be hard for Microsoft, Cisco, or Zoom to support third-party apps for their room systems.
Zoom SDK: Zoom announced the general availability of the Zoom Apps SDK. This allows developers to build Zoom Apps within the Zoom client. Zoom Apps SDK broadens developer capabilities by increasing the reach of new applications, extending new apps to create collaborative experiences, and creating engaging experiences for customers. Related: Zoom updated its ISV Partner Program with an enhanced sandbox program, developer access to Business Development Manager, special pricing, and more.
There was a time when apps were dying — being replaced by web pages. However, the meeting client continues to thrive. Microsoft, Cisco, and Zoom are using their clients to expand functionality.
New From Whatsapp: WhatsApp rolled out several new notable features this month. 1) The app now allows users to mute people during group calls. It can be useful as a way to mute someone who failed to do it themselves. This is a common feature for admins and host, but not one of those equity features the vendors keep talking about. 2) WhatsApp is now allowing DMs during a group call. 3) WhatsApp announced that users can now choose which contacts can see your profile photo. 4) WhatsApp (finally) rolled out the ability for Android users to transfer their chat histories to iPhone. WhatsApp is a shockingly powerful application. It’s difficult to get by in Europe and APAC without it. As far as I can tell, there is no way to use it without sharing your contacts with Facebook/Meta.
Big Gov Comms: Presumably, the video providers are never allowed to cite government customers. But I have a sharp eye. I’ve noticed the White House has replaced its Avaya phones with Cisco phones. I’ve also noticed POTUS uses Zoom and Neat for video meetings.
None of it is too surprising; these are all American companies, though Zoom has to sometimes remind us since its CEO grew up in China. How does one win government contracts? I have no idea. I suspect the process is worse to watch than making legislation. I’d wager that security has to be a piece of it.
Zoom announced this month its new Zoom for Government program which brings together E2EE, lots-o’-certs, nomadic E911, US-based staff and data centers, watermarking, and authenticated logins. Watermarking is my favorite and clearly tells us who leaked what.
Zoom One Pricing: Zoom unveiled Zoom One, a new bundle for chat, phone, meetings, and whiteboarding. Jim Barksdale famously said that the only way to make money is bundling and unbundling. Zoom One is a reasonable response to Microsoft 365 and the Webex Suite. It’s also an acknowledgement that Zoom has evolved from a meetings app to a suite.
But don’t think that One is one. It’s actually six. There are six tiered One plans (Basic, Pro, Business, Business Plus, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus versions). Zoom One Basic, Pro, Business, and Business Plus plans are available for purchase today, priced at $149 per year/user; $199 per year/user; and $250 per year/user respectively.
RingCentral and Avocor: RingCentral and Avocor are partnering to bring RingCentral Rooms software onto a new series of Avocor Collab Touch displays. RingCentral Rooms for Touch will allow users to join and end meetings and offer digital whiteboarding and on-screen annotation from the Avocor touchscreen. Avocor’s Collab Touch displays feature an edge-to-edge display, Avocor UiQ (a new Smart touch-enabled user interface) and are compatible with Logitech’s Rally Bar.
It’s nice to see RingCentral expanding its room lineup. It’s done an impressive job closing competitive gaps with some of the larger meetings providers. Rooms are important, too. This is great if you are committed to Logi or Avocor, but you can get the controller and bar from Poly.
On CC: The CC space is on fire. Over the past five weeks, I attended the NICE and Genesys customer events, a customer panel hosted by Five9, and CCW Vegas. Everything in the contact center is in motion, and it’s getting better. The pace of innovation is shocking, and that’s largely due to AI. It’s a target-rich environment due to all the previously untapped data within it.
In UCaaS and meetings, we saw significant features such as background blur and auto-framing steadily and rapidly improving the value proposition. In the contact center, the upgrades are more continuous yet more incremental. It’s less about the feature improvements and more about the rate of innovation. While market consolidation still eludes the CC space, the pace of innovation makes it inevitable.
Newest CCaaS Provider: It’s still happening: Yet another vendor becomes a CCaaS provider. This month, it is 7.ai. The advantages this one offers are that it’s already in a few contact centers via its Engagement Cloud service, and its experience with BPOs implies a degree of credibility and knowledge. The 7.ai CCaaS solution offers intelligent routing, a no-code/low-code environment, conversational insights, an agent experience that includes voice and video, remote agent support, and contextual agent recommendations.
Amazon Connect: Speaking of innovation, AWS issued 12 press releases tied to Connect this month, six of which are AI-related (Lex sentiment, Lex confidence scores x2, Wisdom for agent assistance, and forecasting x2). There were also two API announcements (agent current activity and transfer tasks), plus custom templates for agent tasks, 15-minute schedule reports, and Cases in preview, and GA of outbound campaigns for calls, texts, and emails.
Zoom and Genesys: Zoom and Genesys expanded their partnership to include Zoom Phone and Genesys Cloud CX. Genesys will enable its global direct and indirect channels to deliver the combined Zoom Phone plus Genesys Cloud CX solution. This appears to be only a GTM partnership. A few months ago, Zoom and 8x8 announced a much stronger partnership that included technical features such as SSO and shared presence.
Talkdesk Retail Experience Cloud: Talkdesk expanded its vertical market push with the launch of Talkdesk Retail Experience Cloud. Vertical focuses make it easier for buyers. This offer is preconfigured with retail workflows and scripts. Talkdesk Retail Experience Cloud joins several other verticalized offerings.
Dialpad AI CSAT: Dialpad launched Ai CSAT, a real-time, predictive engine for customer satisfaction, as part of its Customer Intelligence offering. Dialpad scores 100% of customer calls to improve customer experience (CX). Dialpad’s industry-leading Ai applied to traditional customer satisfaction (CSAT) scoring provides organizations with actionable insights that can help transform the contact center to a profit center. Ai CSAT analyzes every customer call as a core component of the Dialpad TrueCaaS platform.
Intermedia Analytics: Intermedia announced the release of Intermedia Interaction Analytics for insights into customer engagement. Intermedia Interaction Analytics transcribes every call (including voicemail) that comes through one or more designated call queues. It then assigns sentiment tags based on the ratio of positive to negative words. Intermedia Interaction Analytics works with Intermedia Intelligent Contact Center.
Verint Engage: Verint hosted its annual customer event and made several announcements, which I’ve condensed: It introduced total quality to help brands close the engagement gap. This is Verint’s way of bleeding QM and CFM into something useful outside the CC. A silo-busting “One Workforce” solution that empowers humans and bots. WTF? And several more impressive chest-pounding moments.
UCaaS Mobility 3.0: TalkingzPointz published a research note in June called UCaaS Mobility 3.0. It was inspired by three separate keynotes at Enteprise Connect that featured a smartphone as a native UCaaS extension. While UCaaS and mobility go back some ways, this new model has significant disruptive potential that could essentially converge today’s separate mobile and UCaaS worlds. The research note compares and evaluates the different approaches to UCaaS Mobility 3.0 and concludes they are not equal. TalkingPontz research notes are available to full subscribers only.
UCaaS for G Marketplace: The Google Workspace Marketplace is a directory of third-party applications that integrates with Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs/Sheets/Slides, and Forms. For UCaaS, Google recommends Dialpad and RingCentral.
8x8: More Teams: 8x8 Elevate Microsoft Partner (MP) Program allows SPs to make Teams better with 8x8 XT. Leveraging 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams, the new 8x8 XT edition combines 8x8 Direct Routing as a Service technology, (PSTN) connectivity, Azure-based managed SBC as a Service, domestic DIDs, nationwide calling, HD Audio and Secure Voice, all in a single package. According to the Gartner report, Selecting the Best External Calling Option for Microsoft Teams, “By 2024, 20% of total Microsoft Teams active users will adopt telephony services for external calling on Teams.”
Gong: Gong can now record, transcribe, and analyze all sales calls. It can identify and alert users to relevant terms mentioned in customer conversations. It also offers an “Economic Pulse” that enables sales leaders to understand how these trends are impacting deals over time. Prodoscore offers similar functionality.
Bandwidth and Alianza: Two providers and one category on the move: BW and Alianza go together. They know this because they discovered 50 common customers. Bandwidth is a network provider; Alianza is a network platform. Both target SPs. The two launched a GTM partnership, and I wrote about it here. What I found particularly interesting is how BW keeps expanding its TAM.
Coming up is another post about the rebellion of the agent model. The shift to cloud has made everyone an agent, but not every VAR and SP wants to be one. The alternative gaining traction is the private-label option. There are basically two camps of UCaaS providers growing right now: Global OTTs providers such as Teams, Webex, and Zoom, and private-label options from the likes of Alianza, 2600Hz, Webex, Intermedia, EngHouse, and more.
The Other Chime: Amazon has two Chimes. One is a video/messaging suite initially (barely) resold (and replaced) by Lumen and Vonage. It’s a decent app, mostly used by AWS customers. The other Chime, known as Chime SDK, is a “Twilio killer” from AWS. It is powering several meetings apps, including MiCollab, eMed COVID testing, and Slack Huddles.
An area where Chime SDK is getting traction is IVRs — not just with Amazon Connect but with any CC. It offers strong security, LEX AI, and meets requirements for Gov. It can also be used for noise suppression, transcription, and real-time analytics. In other words, AWS has a robust conversational AI that’s usage-based and likely already approved for use at most enterprises.
This month, the Chime SDK team announced expanded support for webcam streams, live transcription for GovCloud, new messaging conversation APIs, and centralized attendee controls.
SCOTUS and Net Neutrality: The Supreme Court determined that Congress must grant clear authorization for certain regulations at the EPA. One could conclude the same is true for the FCC, and that means it could have trouble restoring net neutrality rules.
Democrats and advocates have been pushing to have the 2015 net neutrality rules reinstated after they were revoked under the Trump administration. But a year and a half into the Biden administration, the FCC still doesn’t have a commissioner.
Experts say the decision was written in a way that opens the door for rulemaking decisions at the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to potentially be overturned in court. The decision essentially lets the courts decide what regulations require clear authorization from Congress.
Luminal Brain: Y Combinator 2020 alum Digital Brain raised $16M in a Series A and changed its name to Luminal. The company records users jumping between systems to keep track of the clicks and keystrokes and then replicate these workflows. What separates it from pure RPA tools is its ability to connect to API gateways when they are available — it combines RPA with API-based integrations, “like a macro on steroids.” The company has now raised almost $20 million.
Invoca Series F: Invoca, featured in the Innovation Showcase at EC22, announced an $83M Series F financing at a $1.1B valuation. Invoca uses AI to analyze calls for marketing, sales, and customer agent training purposes. It has raised $184M to date. It offers services such as agent coaching and “automated contact center quality assurance” to boost conversion rates and customer satisfaction.
“Conversations were the first stop in the search for answers and resolution,” said CEO Gregg Johnson. “But in today’s world, consumers start in digital and escalate to human channels.” To hear more from Gregg, check out this TalkingHeadz podcast.
Avayan Woes: Avaya announced $600M in aggregate financing commitments. Essentially, it traded some short-term debt for more expensive debt due in 2027. Avaya dropped below $3/share (it was at about $30 a year ago) earlier in the month, and the new financing didn’t change that.
The company has been undercapitalized for a long time. This, combined with very high executive salaries and extremely high turnover in technical leadership, has prevented significant product innovations — in a highly competitive and innovative sector. However, the company will see millions more in revenue now that an internal scheme to sell stolen software licenses has been stopped. The thieves earned $88M on highly discounted stolen licenses.
Poly and HP: Poly shareholders voted to approve the acquisition by HP. The transaction is expected to close by the end of calendar year 2022. As announced last March, HP agreed to acquire Poly in an all-cash transaction for $40/share (implying a total value of $3.3B). The transaction will actually be a subsidiary of HP merging with Poly, with Poly being the survivor and remaining as a wholly owned subsidiary of HP.
My opinion on this merger hasn’t changed. I was sad to see Polycom and Plantronics lose their independence, but I can’t fathom a better outcome. I expect Dell and Lenovo to expand their AV offerings, too. File it under The Teams Effect. As Microsoft becomes the largest UCaaS provider, so do its partners.
Zendesk Private Again: Earlier this year, Zendesk turned down an unsolicited offer to be acquired for $127-$132/share. Earlier this month, Zendesk announced it completed its strategic review and would remain an independent, publicly traded company. The review had reached out to 16 potential partners and 10 financial sponsors. Mission accomplished.
Later in the month, a consortium of private equity firms acquired the company for $10B cash ($77.50/share). The new investors include two of the major investors in Genesys (Permira and Hellman & Friedman) and Blackstone, Apollo Global Management, Blue Owl Capital, and HPS Investment Partners. The offer represents a premium of approximately 34% over Zendesk’s closing stock price on June 23, 2022.
Zendesk had agreed to buy Momentive in October in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $4B at the time. The transaction was met with a dramatic sell-off in both companies. Zendesk shareholder Janus Henderson Group Plc came out against the acquisition, and Jana Partners, an activist investor, also urged shareholders to reject the deal.
My takeaways: A lot of companies are seeing huge drops in valuation. Some investors see it as a buying opportunity. In this case, the timing favored the investors. So long, CEO Mikkel Svane.
Enghouse and Competella: Enghouse acquired Sweden-based Competella AB, a provider of SaaS and on-prem contact center and attendant console solutions. The products are sold through an SI network. Enghouse didn't disclose any financial details of the transaction. Competella, which is focused in the Scandinavian and Switzerland markets, offers a complete contact center platform designed to work with Microsoft Teams.
“Enghouse acquires …” is not new, but it has developed a surprisingly large presence in contact centers, especially in Europe. Some of the largest comms VARs, such as ConvergeOne, SPS, GCI, Enabling Technologies, and NTT, have partnered with Enghouse Interactive to address the migration to modern UC and CC services. Enghouse also supports a number CCaaS offerings, especially solutions for BPOs via partnerships with British Telecom, Orange Business Services, Mtel, Tata, Telenor, TELUS, and Telefonica.
Glia and Finn AI: Glia announced the acquisition of conversational AI provider Finn AI. Finn specializes in the financial services industry. The acquisition will complement Gila’s prebuilt virtual assistants for banking.
Cloudli and ConnectMeVoice: Canadian Cloudli Communications acquired NJ-based ConnectMeVoice. The acquisition strengthens Cloudli’s position in the North American market while expanding its cloud business communications offering to partners and customers in the US.
This Month’s Goodreads
- Web3/Crypto:WhyBother? Clayton Christensen characterized this type of innovation as being worse at everything except for one dimension — but that dimension really winds up mattering a lot.
- Apple WWDC 2022: the 16 biggest announcements Everything announced at the big event.
- US: Chinese govt hackers breached telcos to snoop on network traffic The NSA, CISA, and FBI said in a joint cybersecurity advisory published on Tuesday that Chinese hacking groups have exploited publicly known vulnerabilities to breach anything from unpatched small office/home office (SOHO) routers to medium and even large enterprise networks.
- Southwest Airlines is closing reservations centers as customer service agents go fully remote Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines are still staffing reservations centers.
- Marc Benioff: Return-to-office mandates 'are never going to work'
- Americans are embracing flexible work — and they want more of it McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey illuminates how many people are offered the option to work from home, who works flexibly, and how they feel about it.
- After several bruising months, industry analysts see Zendesk sale as pressure release If Zendesk remained public, it could have gotten pummeled. At least these folks who acquired them paid a premium and have some experience and capital available.
- Google Hangouts is shutting down in November Or not. They have been known to change strategy.
- The World's $7.8 Trillion Workplace Problem Employees who are not engaged or are actively disengaged cost the world $7.8T in lost productivity.
- 92 million US workers now have the opportunity to work remotely: survey 58% can work from home at least part time, 35% full time.
- The Dow just booked its worst first half since 1962 S&P 500 sees biggest first-half drop since 1970, while tech wreck leaves Nasdaq with largest such decline on record.
- The Samsung M8 WfH monitor It has speakers and a microphone, a webcam, and a SmartThings hub. It offers support for Google Duo video calls and Microsoft Office without a computer. Works with Samsung phones Dex and Xbox games are coming.
The TalkingHeadz Podcasts are interviews with the movers and shakers of enterprise communications — plus we have some interesting guests. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. We strive for two episodes a month.
- Mark Bernstein, CEO of Balto. Coaching agents can be a dog.
- Jon Brinton, CRO of Crexendo. On acquiring and competing with a subsidiary.
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