The Unified Communications market is no stranger to annual acquisitions, with some of the biggest names combining forces, and scooping up the little guys to boost their platform. Every year there are a good number of different mergers and acquisitions, and more often than not we’ll see the bigger players gobble up smaller, complimentary platforms.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the industry this past year, and have been following along with some of the biggest UC news stories. But instead of just listing out every single acquisition that occurred — because lets face it, there are a lot — we were curious to take a look at the biggest and most innovative acquisitions in the industry.
So we went ahead and put this list together: eight of what we feel were the most groundbreaking acquisitions and mergers in VoIP and Unified Communications in 2017.
1. Cisco and Broadsoft
Still a bit fresh in our minds is Cisco’s recent acquisition of the communication giant Broadsoft. In October, Cisco announced they will be snatching up Broadsoft for close to $2 Billion, as part of their goal to push even further into the collaboration market. Broadsoft’s existing portfolio gains Cisco a new platform of communication and collaboration focused software, including hosted VoIP, unified communications, and even call center capabilities.
We’ve seen Cisco pushing hard with their Spark platform recently, looking to gain ground in the collaboration and work communications space, so it definitely makes sense to see them snatch up an existing player, especially one as large as Broadsoft.
Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Applications Business Group, believes that combining both Cisco’s collaboration tech with BroadSoft’s SMB offerings through service providers will provide the market with much needed choice and flexibility.
2. Mitel and ShoreTel
Announced back in July, this one took us by surprise. Mitel went ahead and snatched up a close competitor in the space, ShoreTel, for a grand total of $430 million. This move came after Mitel was outbid on their acquisition of Polycom just a year before, and wasn’t what we were expecting to see.
We especially were not expecting to see a move like this, not after the fact that Mitel had previously tried to acquire ShoreTel back in 2014, but was unsuccessful. At the time, ShoreTel’s stock was trading for around $7.50 a share. However, here in 2017, the stars aligned for both providers, with this new combination putting Mitel as the second largest player in the UCaaS market.
After shedding their mobile division, Mitel was looking to snatch up something new, and ShoreTel was beginning to have their stock price dip, with rumors circling about a possible acquisition. Overall, Shoretel’s portfolio will allow Mitel to expand even further into the Enterprise market with both on-premise and hosted solutions.
3. Windstream and Broadview
Going back a bit earlier into 2017,we saw Windstream Communications acquire Broadview Networks for roughly $227 million. The acquisition mainly brought in a new set of UCaaS offerings for the SMB market, allowing Windstream to begin to focus their efforts on the smaller end of the industry, branching off from their existing Enterprise solutions.
Tony Thomas, president and CEO of Windstream, said that Broadview’s innovative and award-winning UC solution, OfficeSuite, works as a perfect complement to Windstream’s existing SD-Wan offerings, and will plan to sell the two as combined solutions.”
But beyond adding in new product offerings, Windstream also absorbed Broadview Network’s leadership team, including Broadview’s previous Senior Vice President of Sales, Senior Vice President of Cloud Technology and Platform Development, Vice President of Platform development, and Vice President of Integration Management and Broadview operations. With new management and a new solution, Windstream stands as an even stronger competitor in the market.
4. Intermedia and AnyMeeting
Intermedia already provides a pretty wide range of Unified Communications solutions. Ranging from SIP Trunking and Cloud PBX capabilities, down to email, security and even file sharing tools, the provider has been able to differentiate themselves with this wide portfolio.
When we heard of their acquisition of AnyMeeting, we were a bit surprised, but not confused. AnyMeeting is simply a video and web conferencing tool, and it makes perfect sense for Intermedia to scoop up a web conferencing solution.
After all, despite their powerful Cloud PBX platform, Intermedia was still relying on Skype to handle web conferencing for their customers. But by bringing AnyMeeting in under their portfolio, Intermedia is now able to round-off their solution stack with a dedicated conferencing solution, one that will fit seamlessly into the existing platform for users.
5. Atlassian and Trello
Atlassian was already a bit of a collaboration powerhouse, with products like JIRA and HipChat, the latter almost paving the way for solutions like Slack. But the collaboration giant got even larger this year, with their most recent acquisition of the project management solution Trello.
This was certainly an interesting acquisition to see, and one that does make sense when you begin to take a closer look at the two providers. As I said, Atlassian was already a strong collaboration provider, with 12 different software development and collaboration tools at their disposal.
Atlassian at the time wrote that Trello will be a key product in their portfolio by providing teams a completely new way to organize and prioritize their projects and tasks. Overall, Trello’s unique visual focused project management fits in nicely with the rest of Altassian’s collaboration tools.
6. Genesys and Interactive Intelligence
Earlier this year when we took a look at Gartner’s 2017 CCaaS Magic Quadrant, we noted how Interactive Intelligence was removed from the list, and how Genesys actually moved up from a Visionary to a Leader. This was simply due to the fact that Genesys acquired Interactive Intelligence back at the very end of 2016, close enough for us to be considered, as the changes weren’t really felt until 2017.
What was really interesting about this acquisition was how much it bolstered Genesys’ offerings. When I first discussed the acquisition, I wrote that the combined efforts and solutions of both companies now allows Genesys to support customers of any size, from any industry, with a stronger global presence.
Both providers were strong picks in the market, and this consolidation as only made Genesys an even stronger contender, powering over 25 billion customer interactions each year.
7. NetFortis and Fonality
NetFortis was already a leading provider for secure, cloud-based communication solutions, but they were missing the UCaaS piece of their puzzle. So that’s why the provider went ahead and acquired Fonality, to expand their portfolio to provide both an enterprise and SMB focused UCaaS solution, as well as VoIP services.
Overall, NetFortis can now provide businesses with security, network management, and even UCaaS. At the end of the day, acquisition was a win-win for customers of both providers, with NetFortis gaining UCaaS and VoIP capabilities, and Fonality customers now gaining access to network management and even more secure communications.
The combined powerhouse can now provide solutions in a couple of different verticals, including security, analytics, contact center solutions and an entire communications suite.
8. 8×8 and Sameroom
Probably one of the more interesting and unique acquisitions of 2017 has to be 8×8 snatching up LeChat, Inc., the team behind Sameroom. What makes this acquisition so different is the unique product that Sameroom offers: the ability to connect multiple different team messaging and chat platforms into one seamless experience.
The idea is pretty simple, if one team in New York is using Slack, and another team in San Francisco is using HipChat, Sameroom can be used to link these chats together, allowing both teams to use whichever app they prefer, while still keeping all the important communication in one place.
This was a great move by 8×8, as Sameroom’s capabilities brings something totally unique to their platform, something that isn’t standard or common within Unified Communications offers. 8×8 can really stand out from the pack when it comes to team collaboration, a market that is growing rapidly.
The Bottom Line
To put it simply, 2017 was a really busy year in the UC market. We saw big names snatch up competitors, powerhouses bring in new technology, and overall strong growth for some of the biggest industry leaders. I’m very curious to follow along with these providers to see how the acquisitions of 2017 will revolutionize product offerings and shake up the current market standings.