ShoreTel Blows $11.4 Million

by Dave Michels

Today’s news includes ShoreTel’s acquisition of Agito Networks. For those of you that have never heard of Agito, join the club. The company was a pioneer in the concept of making mobile phones PBX extensions – what every major telephony solution does today. In fact, ShoreTel just released its new Communicator client for iPhone and BlackBerry devices.

Andy Abramsom writes of Agito: “Founded by Pej Roshan, and ex Cisco marketing executive, the company was the first to commercialize the concept of an extended enterprise on the Blackberry, accomplishing that largely without much help from RIM…Agito’s early moves were like many VOIP and FMC companies, well ahead of the market, but unfortunately without more cash infusion Agito was never going to gain more traction with the mobile operators any more than they had early on.”

Agito’s core technology consists of a tight integration with mobile phones such as RIM’s BlackBerry devices (the ones precariously close to the edge of relevance) and its ability to work with multiple brands of phone systems including those from Alcatel, Digium, Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel, Nortel and oh yes, ShoreTel. Agito’s RoamAnywhere product connects these multiple UC systems and many of their features to cellular phones.

At one time, this technology was really impressive. You can for example, route an incoming call into the phone system to a cellular phone via Wi-Fi or 3G. But I am confused exactly what ShoreTel intends to do with their new mobility play. I think Agito’s success with non ShoreTel brands will be compromised, and the company does not currently support Android or Microsoft Phone 7. Nor does the world seem particularly interested in FMC solutions.

Perhaps $11.4 Million was a bargain too good to pass up. I am not familiar with Agito’s patents or revenue. My concern is ShoreTel has a lot of priorities – like moving off MGCP to SIP or separating its appliance concept to a software solution that can be virtualized, or even finding a new CEO (all of which are projects currently underway). Just seems like the acquisition has the potential to be a distraction. The play isn’t very clear to me, and the technology of Agito (support Nokia phones on an Avaya Call Manager) doesn’t seem particularly strategic to ShoreTel.

Good luck with that.