What Occurred in October?
I post a newsletter every month, but that content is not surfaced on the website. I am working to fix this in 2020. The November news report went out yesterday. IF you are curious what’s in a newsletter, below is the majority of the October report.
These reports are available under two paid subscriptions. See more here.
The monthly recaps are published the first week of every month and offer summary and insights of what occurred in enterprise communications the prior month. Website changes are coming that do a better job of blending free and premium content on site. Currently, these reports are only sent out via email.
The Most Important Enterprise Communications News from October 2019
I attended these October events: RingCentral Analyst Day, Gitex (Avaya), Poly Analyst Day, Zoomtopia, Slack Spec, Vonage Campus, and Collaboration Week Silicon Valley.
The big news at the RingCentral event was the Avaya partnership. I knew something was up as RingCentral had already hosted an analyst event earlier this year. The company dragged out a narrow part of its roadmap all morning and then (after markets closed) ushered in Team Avaya. I suspect the whole analyst event was really just a deadline to reach an agreement (similar to those house flipping shows that schedule an open house as a remodel deadline).
The agreement was covered in what has become a bestselling TalkingPointz Research Note on Avaya-Ring (sent to full subscribers). The deal received its final approvals on October 31. This is a developing story, so there will likely be a revised report in Q1. More info below.
Immediately after the RingCentral event, I headed to Gitex in Dubai. This is a huge technology conference and major event for Avaya International. The company made several significant announcements covered below. RingCentral was not top of mind (due to the region and customer size), though I did learn more about the partnership from Avaya leadership. Overall, I left Dubai with optimism and increased clarity about Avaya. Avaya Gitex Video.
Poly coordinated with Zoom to host an analyst session the day before Zoomtopia. Mergers can result in the best or worst of two companies. Poly managed the former. The biggest news is the Poly Studio X Series which was publicly revealed at Zoomtopia. In hindsight, it was an inevitable portfolio expansion that fills the gap between a single vendor room system (Real Presence and Cisco) and open USB devices. The X Series contains an Android-powered computer and several other innovations. Poly understood this to be a unique concept for a Zoom Room — and it was for about 30 minutes. Poly Day Video.
Zoomtopia featured two surprise appliances during its opening keynote. Neat.no came out of stealth at the event. Neat will do well. It combined the most experienced video hardware designers on the planet with a fast-growing ecosystem and a seed investment from Zoom. The new room appliances were just a part of a litany of announcements at Zoomtopia (covered below). Rowan Trollope was also visible at Zoomtopia as a contact center partner, Zoom Phone testimonial customer, and investor/advisor in Neat. Zoom is executing at a theoretically impossible rate of innovation. Forget Google and Amazon; Zoom is the company to fear as a competitor. Zoomtopia video.
I enjoyed the Slack Spec developer event, but I wonder if Slack can make it alone. The MS Teams vs. Slack debate is a sideshow. Every company will use messaging, and Slack remains an innovative pioneer. However, Slack’s vulnerability is its lack of real-time services. UCaaS, meetings, and messaging are converging, and Slack’s partners are all building messaging apps. This is why I think Google acquiring Slack is a viable possibility. Spec Video.
Vonage hosted an analyst event and user conference. It was a coming-out party for what is suddenly a new type of communications provider (complete with new branding). The Vonage VBC stack includes UCaaS, Meetings, Messaging, CCaaS, and CPaaS. Note how Vonage now concurrently announces applications and APIs. Vonage Campus Video.
Zoomtopia was a major contributor this month, but the Meetings section of this enterprise communications newsletter continues to provide the lion’s share of the monthly content.
LogMeIn GoToMeeting: LogMeIn redesigned and slashed the price of GoToMeeting. The new monthly fees were cut in half and are now more in line with Zoom, BlueJeans, and Cisco Webex. It’s a very competitive space.
AudioCodes and Dolby: AudioCodes is the latest company to partner with Dolby for room systems. The new AudioCodes Room Experience solutions are intended to enhance meetings with improved audio quality, post-meeting analytics, and action item followup.
BlueJeans Makes Meetings Smarter: AI-powered enhancements allow recording up to 20 seconds after a given moment, post-meeting video highlights and key points, assignable action items, transcripts, summaries, and more.
Portal into Workplace: Workplace by Facebook now supports the Facebook portal (video calling) device. The portal comes in 8”, 10”, and 15.6” models and offers an impressive auto-framing and auto-tracking capability. It seems more suitable for Facebook Portal users that also use Workplace than a dedicated Workplace video device. To date, Workplace supports app-to-app video, but has relied on its partnership with Zoom and BlueJeans for rooms and hardware.
Nureva Nureva received three patents for its Microphone Mist technology. This represents a significant advancement beyond traditional audio technologies like beamforming and omnidirectional microphones. The patents describe the ability to focus sound signals in a shared 3D space and positional information that derives automatic gain control parameters. My only experience with Microphone Mist was a demo, but it was very impressive.
Zoom Meeting Upgrades: Zoom announced numerous improvements to its meeting experience. My favorites include: e-boards can be used as an accessory to Zoom Rooms, large rooms can have multiple displays and controllers, and Zoom Room profiles (such as lecture mode, single presenter mode, and panel mode) make settings easy to change. Zoom also announced support for customizable IP commands to control third-party (IoT) devices.
A new set of AI-powered capabilities include live transcripts, meeting notes, and simultaneous interpretation capabilities. The show stopper was video or slides as virtual backgrounds.
New in Zoom Rooms
- New Zoom Room Appliances. Zoom Rooms got a major upgrade with a new concept of appliances — always-on, all-in-one room systems with an integrated processor. Both Poly.com and Neat.no introduced conceptually similar appliances that include an Android-powered processor (no separate laptop or NUC required) inside a front-of-room speaker-camera bar with a separate touch-screen controller. The key differences between the systems are the X Series is channel-friendly and will likely support other ecosystems in the future. The Neat.no solution is sold direct, designed exclusively for Zoom, and has a few always-on sensors. Both have numerous advanced features including auto-framing. Neat also announced a board product coming next year. The appliances position Windows-based Teams Meeting Rooms as legacy solutions.
- DTEN announced a Zoom Rooms for Touch Appliance, the DTEN ON. This is a single device that can enable video conferencing and interactive whiteboarding for small-to-medium-sized rooms. The device can be rented for $79/month. The DTEN ON is available in a 27” and 55” model.
- Crestron debuted its Crestron Flex for Zoom Rooms this month. The solution offers one-touch joins, provides native Zoom Rooms support, and can be deployed via the Crestron XiO Cloud IoT platform.
- Samsung SDS announced a Zoom Rooms hardware offering. That leverages hardware products from Samsung Electronics and its HARMAN division.
- Yamaha UC unveiled its Yamaha YVC-1000 USB and Bluetooth Speakerphone for Zoom Rooms. The device can daisy-chain up to five microphones and pair with external speakers and microphone system via an input jack. Tough time to unveil a Zoom USB device. (See Poly X Series and Neat.no.)
- Logitech and Avocor recreated a Zoom Room kit that includes Logitech’s A/V and Avocor’s smart screen and compute unit. The Avocor ALZ systems are available in three sizes (65”, 75”, and 86”) with IR or InGlass options.
- The Jabra PanaCast, a panoramic-4K video solution now works with Zoom Rooms. The new telepresence feature takes the existing Zoom Room capabilities one step further with three individual video streams in a single product. The three different camera angles work in tandem with the Zoom Rooms Speaker Switching and microphones that detect which side is speaking. It switches to the proper camera angle based on microphone activity.
- Kaptivo expands its whiteboard collaboration system into enterprise video with a new Zoom Room solution. The Kaptivo service runs $10-$24/month.
- Zoom announced virtual backgrounds for Zoom Rooms and a facial detection capability that counts and reports participants in Zoom Room Meetings.
The high growth segment of USB room system solutions will likely flatten as new models with built-in compute (such as Poly Studio X Series, Dolby, Neat, and Avaya) take off. E-boards will be the next big frontier for rooms that could shake up the vendor landscape.
Zoom Marketplace Integrations: Zoom has approved over 160 apps in its Marketplace. New featured apps and integrations include Zoom for Microsoft to start and schedule Zoom meetings from Teams and a ServiceNow integration for automatic ticketing.
Zoom’s Neat Stunt: Zoom sent shock waves through its ecosystem with its surprise investment in Neat. Zoom has risked its reputation as a hardware-agnostic, partner-friendly, software company. Neat was operating in stealth until Zoomtopia. It does not appear that Zoom’s partners were aware of Neat or Zoom’s investment until just prior to Zoomtopia.
Neat is an Oslo-based hardware vendor founded earlier this year with the intent to create purpose-built hardware for Zoom meetings. The company has about 50 employees, and it raised $20M. Neat’s chairman is OJ Winge, formerly the leader of Tandberg and Cisco Collaboration (Cisco acquired Tandberg). Winge was also a founder and principal of Acano which Cisco acquired in 2016.
Vonage Meetings: Vonage announced the addition of Vonage Meetings to its VBC solution. VBC initially bundled Amazon Chime for meetings, which will be gradually phased out. Vonage Meetings is part of the new unified client for VBC Business (for UCaaS, messaging, and meetings). Because Vonage Meetings is powered by an API platform, additional options are available, such as enhanced customer engagement, online video training, and screen sharing applications. Vonage Meetings uses WebRTC APIs and came from its 2018 acquisition of TokBox.
TrueConf revealed TrueConf Group, a plug-and-play videoconferencing system with built-in MCU and remote control access. TrueConf Group system is fully compatible with TrueConf’s existing ecosystem of video collaboration solutions. The device will be shipping globally with multiple configurations starting in 2019.
BenQ InstaShow S: BenQ introduced an update to its wireless presentation system this month. It claimed that this category grew 40% in 2018 in North America, accounting for ~$1B in worldwide revenues. The dedicated WPS hardware segment, led by Barco ClickShare, is predicted to grow with a CAGR of 22% through 2022. I really thought this market would go away with products like Webex Share or even apps such as Teams and Zoom because they share content the same way regardless of whether there are remote participants. However, the InstaShow does have some nice features like split-screen sharing and touchback. I do think the dedicated solution for local participants is on borrowed time, but maybe that means that CAGR just slows to 15%.
Samsung, Verizon, and BlueJeans announced a solution that brings together services from the three vendors (smartphones, 4G/5G network, and video conferencing). Instead of the selfie camera for smartphone video conferencing, BlueJeans will use the ultrawide, rear-facing 123° FOV lenses on the new phones. Participants can now use DeX mode with an HDMI connection for dual-screen mode. BlueJeans Privacy Mode supports blurred backgrounds on the S10 phones. BlueJeans also leveraged Note 10’s S Pen for features such as mute and camera selection. I think DeX is a great concept and expect similar services from Google Android and iOS as the smartphone is poised to replace desktops. Samsung is popping up in enterprise comms more frequently (three times in this report).
Gartner CCaaS MQs: Gartner published two Contact Center as a Service MQs this month. The North America report has four Leaders this year: NICE Five9, Genesys, inContact, and Talkdesk. The Western Europe report lists the Leaders as Content Guru, Odigo, and Vonage. A few observations:
- There is no strong global provider. The only providers on both reports are inContact, Talkdesk, and Vonage.
- This is the first year that Vonage and Talkdesk appear on the NA report. Talkdesk making its first appearance as a Leader is likely attributable to ecstatic testimonials.
- While inContact and Five9 remained in relatively similar positions (in NA), Genesys dropped a bit (moved lower than Serenova and to the left of inContact). This contradicts the stellar progress implied by Genesys’ press releases (reports of its success have been greatly exaggerated).
- Webex Contact Center (previously CJP and Transera) did not make the NA inclusion criteria this year (the inclusion criteria did not change significantly).
- Neither Amazon Connect nor Twilio Flex was included. Gartner does not consider them CCaaS.
- Note the lead authors on the reports were not the same.
Watch for the upcoming TalkingHeadz Podcast with Paul Jarman, CEO of inContact.
Avaya News: Avaya made two major CC related announcements this month — subscription pricing (now) and CCaaS (coming). Avaya IX Subscription program provides customers with a consumption-based alternative to perpetual licensing for CC and UC. Monthly and annual subscription plans are available globally. This could prove to be very significant as opex has been a driver for premises-to-cloud migration. Subscription plans also include Avaya IX Spaces (previously known as Zang Spaces) for team collaboration.
Avaya announced that its next-generation CCaaS platform will launch on Azure in UAE. The initial release, planned for 1H20, will be voice only, but support for digital channels is expected soon after. The service is not based on its Spoken acquisition, and it’s unclear how much of this platform is based on Aura vs. new technologies. Avaya describes the service as a new microservice architecture, built-for-a-cloud platform. The move from Google Cloud to Azure is likely attributed to Microsoft’s service being more comprehensive in the UAE.
Webex CC Leadership: Cisco named Omar Tawakol its new VP and GM of the Cisco Contact Center division. Omar came to Cisco through the recent acquisition of Voicea. All of the premises-based CC leaders continue to struggle with leveraging extensive experience and installed base into CCaaS leadership. Omar post.
Last month, Genesys named Barry O’Sullivan the leader of its premises-based division. Many believe the move signals that Genesys intends to split the premises and cloud businesses into separate companies. I disagree as the premises base is the pipe for the cloud business.
Zoom Phone Adds CC Partners: Zoom announced that Genesys, NICE inContact, and Talkdesk will join Five9 and Twilio as integrated partners with its Zoom Contact Center Partner Program. The program offers cloud-integrations and on-net SIP peering. It seems that Five9 has the inside track. Five9 has been a vocal Zoom Phone testimonial customer, and Zoom is deploying Five9 internally. The move reaffirms that Zoom has no immediate plans to launch its own CCaaS (for now).
Intermedia CCaaS: Intermedia Contact Center was launched in October. It is the result of its August acquisition of Telax. The service has three tiers: Express, Pro, and Elite, and can be obtained as part of a UCaaS bundle or stand-alone service. Intermedia has done well with acquisitions in the past. It could mean a future where Costco becomes a CCaaS provider.
CCaaS and Salesforce: Every CCaaS provider claims a tight integration with Salesforce. It’s important, as Salesforce is the CRM leader. Also, Salesforce customers are more likely to entertain CCaaS than premises-based alternatives.
- inContact launched a new Lightning-native interface for CXone Agent for Salesforce. CXone includes several WFO elements, such as agent scheduling, coaching, and quality management.
- Five9 launched its Einstein Engagement Bot on the Salesforce AppExchange. The integration enables Einstein Bot to engage with the customer and provide quick answers or escalate to an agent.
- Slack also updated its integration with Salesforce (sales and service clouds) this month.
While all providers claim some integration, there is a scale. Vonage, for example, heavily relies on Salesforce capabilities while Genesys offers many overlapping capabilities. Understanding the degrees of integration and options are becoming difficult.
Vonage Conversations: Vonage announced a Conversation API that enables developers and enterprises to maintain context across multiple channels (messaging, voice, and video). The API will likely expand to other Vonage support channels, including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Viber. This is similar to the Conversations API Twilio announced a few months ago, but also supports real-time services.
Verint released AI and automation enhancements to its Knowledge Management Professional solution. It now features an improved cognitive search that understands industry-specific concepts without manual tagging and linking. AI will destroy what we now know as WFO — vendors need to adapt or risk being replaced.
Aspect Software announced the release of version 19 of Cloud Contact Center that includes tools to help supervisors such as enhanced employee data regarding time spent in or out of adherence, real-time alarms, analysis of historical adherence trends, and notification improvements. Other major enhancements include Microsoft LUIS NLU support, additional APIs for integrations (Salesforce.com, Dynamics, and others), and TLS/SRTP encryption. The company is working to revive its portfolio without forcing customers to adopt Aspect Via.
Avaya-RingCentral Partnership: The actual agreement was a surprise. I was pretty confident that Avaya would not sell all or part of itself, but did not expect a partnership like this. It seems Avaya was under pressure from its shareholders to return cash and to stop chasing UCaaS. The partnership continues to grow on me. It has the potential to benefit both companies (and already has in terms of valuation).
For the partnership to be a success, both companies must stop seeing each other as a competitor. That’s not easy after more than a decade of competition. The agreement is (currently) around UCaaS, but the two companies still compete in several adjacencies such as messaging, meeting, and some contact center services. This leaves many unanswered questions about future sales and account management. The firms still need to set clear GTM boundaries and create differentiation between their offers. Details are still emerging, so stay tuned for updates. See this link for post and related Research Note.
Avaya Onespace: Avaya released a new product called Avaya IX Onespace that provides a web front end to just about anything, including its own apps. It’s positioned as a single pane of work, and will typically integrate with a user’s calendar, email, and communications suite. The API-powered framework allows for integration with third-party applications including MS Teams and Slack. Onespace with Avaya Spaces or other messaging app allows Avaya to streamline collaboration alone or with others. Onespace is initially available in the EMEA and APAC regions.
Vonage App Center: The new Vonage App Center provides a single location for app discovery and provisioning for Vonage Business Communications (VBC) UCaaS. Launch partners include AuthVia payment solutions, Salesforce Essentials, Google G Suite, Unytalk, Krisp, and Office 365. App marketplaces are evolving into deeply integrated catalogs that support discovery, implementation, and billing. The App Center will likely expand to Vonage Contact Center applications.
Zoom Phone: Zoom announced that Zoom Phone added Ireland, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico to its list of supported markets (that already included US, UK, Canada, and Australia). The company also announced beta service availability in 11 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland). That is the fastest global expansion of a UCaaS service I have ever seen. Zoom Phone will be available in even more territories soon with a new BYO Carrier program with on-net, brokered SIP peering.
Zoom Phone also now supports Citrix VDI, global dial plans, location-based routing, and dynamic e911. Zoom certified the AudioCodes SBC and desk phone portfolio as well as Algo and CyberData for paging solutions.
Webex BYO Carrier: Cisco made BYO Carrier a new option. BYOC Cloud Connected PSTN (CCP) for Webex Calling allows customers to select a CCP partner to provide their Webex calling plan. NTT and IntelePeer are the first two carriers in the program.
BYOC is not intuitive for UCaaS or CCaaS which historically provided their own PSTN services. However, it does speed things up. By using local carriers, it bypasses the need for regulatory approvals. It also allows larger customers to maintain their negotiated contracts and eliminates porting concerns. Microsoft enabled it on Teams likely in response to Cisco acquiring BroadSoft. Cisco and Zoom enabled it this month.
ALE and Samsung Electronics Spain launched a workplace mobility communications platform for enterprises. This integrated solution offers secure employee mobility. The solution leverages Samsung DeX, Knox Security, and ALE Rainbow. It can be personalized to integrate with business processes, applications, and technologies.
The softphone never killed the desk phone, but the smartphone might.
8×8 and Gong: Gong, featured in the Innovation Showcase at EC19, is now integrated with Fuze UCaaS. The Fuze API enables customers to apply Gong to sales calls for ML-powered insights. Gong‘s technology enables customers to record and analyze conversations, including phone calls, web conferences, and emails. Gong is also integrated with RingCentral. Prodoscore, another Innovation Showcase company with similar technology, is integrated with Vonage and Google.
Slack App Toolkit: The Slack app toolkit was announced at the Spec developer conference. It offers developers assistance in creating apps that are easier for customers to discover, understand, and adopt. The toolkit offers four components: Permissions (improved granular controls), Block Kit (UI framework), Surfaces (where interaction occurs), and Actions. Sometimes the most effective strategies are the obvious ones. Apps are what make Slack useful, so Slack is working to make apps easier for developers and better for users. In other words, app adoption drives Slack adoption.
Workplace 3M: Workplace by Facebook revealed during its Flow conference that it now has 3M paid users (not counting free users and nonprofit customers). Workplace reported 2M last February, so it’s up 50% in eight months. In the recent TalkingHeadz podcast, Julien Codorniou explains that the company is now building momentum and adding channels.
Slack DAU: Slack provided an update to its Daily Active Users (DAU) metrics. The last update came in January (10M DAU). The new measure is 12M DAU, just behind Microsoft’s July update of 13M. The news came in its first earnings report as an NYSE-listed company. Slack’s Q2 2019 revenue increased 58% YoY to $145M. The numbers would have been better had the service been available 99.99% of the time.
Research from Productiv found Slack’s engagement levels were almost 10 times greater than Teams’, even though Microsoft had slightly more users overall than Slack. Meanwhile, Workplace by Facebook is growing faster than both Teams and Slack.
Zoom Chat now offers comments and reactions (beta). Users can now react to specific messages with emojis [HappyFace]. Zoom Chat didn’t get a lot of attention at Zoomtopia, but the app quietly continues to expand. For me, it appears to be the heir apparent to both Hangouts Classic and Skype for me.
Slack and Salesforce announced a new integration aimed at helping customers more efficiently collaborate across both tools. Slack users can search for and share Salesforce customer records without leaving Slack. It also allows slack conversations to be appended directly into Salesforce. It was a long-overdue update to an early integration.
RCS ver .9: The four major US wireless carriers created a joint venture called the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) to facilitate the move from SMS to RCS. The question is whether this is progress or just another distraction on the never-ending journey to RCS. For the past decade, RCS has been the tainted stepchild successor to SMS. It’s journey to implementation has arguably exceeded its technical viability.
While it is easy to make fun of RCS, it is still better than SMS, which is even more obsolete than RCS. CCMI is likely positive as it offers carriers a path to standardized implementation with control over spam and QoS. Presumably, Apple will support RCS if it becomes mainstream for Android users. Google has been unsuccessful at driving adoption, but remains positioned for outsourced services for other carriers. Google is more likely interested in richer messaging for Android than hosting carrier services. If successful, RCS will enable richer messaging and trigger innovative solutions for customer engagement.
Leadership Changes: A big month for leadership changes. Mary McDowell (previously CEO of Polycom) became the CEO of Mitel. Mitel’s prior CEO, Rich McBee, is now the CEO of Riverbed. Nike named ServiceNow’s CEO John Donahoe (previously the CEO of eBay) to be its new CEO. ServiceNow named Bill McDermott (previously the CEO of SAP) as its new CEO. Google Cloud hired Microsoft’s former Cortana and Outlook VP, Javier Soltero, to head up its productivity and collaboration bundle, G Suite. Mark Hurd (HP, Oracle) died.
Poly and ScanSource Fuel 8×8 Channel: A new channel alliance strengthens 8×8’s services with equipment from Poly and financial incentives from ScanSource. The program will be available in December.
Voss M2UC: VOSS Solutions announced the general availability of its latest UC migration software for migrating legacy telephony systems. VOSS M2UC discovers, extracts, validates, and creates users, devices, and services to facilitate UC migrations. New features include project containers, JSONB database, improved batching and error handling, and a new GUI. The solution is aimed at service providers and large enterprises.
FCC Banning Chinese Equipment: The FCC will vote in November on whether to bar telecom firms from using Universal Service Funds to buy Chinese telecom equipment. The agency says that equipment from Huawei and ZTE poses a “national security threat.” A proposal is underway to mandate that providers remove any existing banned equipment. ALE seems to be avoiding these issues as it’s Chinese owned, but not Chinese government owned.
A Phone-Like Device from Microsoft: Microsoft hosted a Surface event this month. The new Surface Pro 7 offers minor incremental improvements over the SP6 and a USB C port. There were no changes to industrial design, screen resolution, or bezel sizes [yawn]. The Surface that got my attention is the Surface Duo which is very phone-like — but don’t call it a phone. The Duo does what phones do, but Microsoft only described it as a Surface. There’s a lot of interesting things about this Surface/Phone: it runs Android, has two screens, and won’t ship for more than a year.
The dual-screen design is curious. Every dual-screen Android device so far (I can think of five) has failed, but perhaps they were too early. Announcing a “smartphone-like device” more than a year in advance is also curious. About a year ago, Microsoft announced the Surface Hub 2 — perhaps an update is imminent.
HCL and Google Cloud announced the launch of HCL’s Google Cloud Business Unit to accelerate enterprise cloud adoption. HCL currently has more than 1,300 professionals trained on Google Cloud and plans to expand to more than 5,000 specialists in the near future. Targeted specialized areas include containerization, hybrid, and multi-cloud with Anthos, analytics, AI/ML, and collaboration with G Suite. Note, HCL acquired IBM’s collaboration portfolio last December.
The IMCCA, a leading voice for the UCC industry for more than 20 years, presented Bob Hagerty, Chairman of Poly, a Lifetime Achievement Award at the end of its Silicon Valley Collaboration Week event.
Edify Labs announced it closed a $10M round of seed funding led by First Round Capital. Edify produces and offers a software platform for businesses to manage customer engagement and cross-team collaboration. The funding will be used to expand sales, marketing, development, and customer success teams. Edify debuted at Enterprise Connect 2019.
Incode announced that it has raised $10M in seed funding from undisclosed investors. Incode produces an omnichannel biometric identity platform. “The modern consumer is all about experiences and convenience,” said founder and CEO Ricardo Amper. “What they want is a seamless, consistent, and secure way to perform daily tasks — like access[ing] their ATM, mak[ing] payments, and access[ing] online accounts. Yet, what they get today is quite the opposite. The ecosystem is fragmented by multiple vendors and devices, making processes clunky and inefficient.”
AT&T Screaming Video: The acquisitions of DirecTV ($67B) and Time Warner ($86B) were the cornerstone of AT&T’s effort to dominate video and online video advertising. Oops. The megadeals instead have made AT&T one of the most heavily indebted companies in the world. The answer (again) is another rate hike for TV subscribers, but rate hikes accelerate cancellations (doh!). In AT&T’s latest earnings report, the company lost another 1.16M video subscribers from its traditional DirecTV and IPTV TV services, plus another 195K streamers canceled AT&T TV. That’s 1.36M TV subscribers in a single quarter. A shareholder revolt led AT&T to promise that it won’t do any major M&A in the next three years. Verizon’s “me too” efforts with the less expensive acquisitions of Yahoo and AOL aren’t as damaging, but certainly not good.
T-Mobile-Sprint Approved by FCC: The FCC formally approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. Now, the merger faces one more battle before they plan to close the deal — DoJ approval. The DOJ gave the companies the thumbs-up in July. However, a bipartisan coalition of state AGs is still trying to block the deal through a multi-state lawsuit. Representatives from the two companies said they won’t close the merger until that is resolved.
Sangoma acquired VoIP Innovations, a privately-held company that specializes in wholesale SIP trunking. VI has over 1400 customers and about 35 employees. The company also has recently launched a CPaaS product. It marks the eighth acquisition Sangoma has made in eight years. The deal is valued around $36M (of which $30M was in cash). I think we just may see yet another rise of open source.