ShoreTel CEO Blackmore Is Retiring From UC Vendor

The announcement comes just more than year after ShoreTel, under Blackmore, bought M5 Networks to acquire cloud-based UC capabilities.

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Peter Blackmore, who has been ShoreTel's president and CEO since coming to the unified communications technology vendor in late 2010, is stepping down.

ShoreTel announced May 10 that Blackmore will retire as soon as a successor is named. The search for a new CEO is already under way, according to the company.

Blackmore's decision comes weeks after the company announced quarterly financial numbers that showed growth in both its cloud-based and on-premises unified communications (UC) businesses and revenue grew 39 percent from the same period a year earlier.

It also comes days after the company at the Interop 2013 show unveiled the ShoreTel Dock, a docking station for Apple's iPhones and iPads that—when combined with ShoreTel's Mobility software—turns the devices into complete UC endpoints and expands the vendor's reach in the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arena.

Blackmore said he is pleased with the progress the company has made during his two-plus years at the helm.

"I am confident that the company is well-positioned in both the cloud and premise unified communications markets," he said in a statement. "With recent changes to our organizational and cost structure, we can now scale with a model positioned for profitability, enhancing our objective of delivering improved shareholder value."

Blackmore came to ShoreTel in December 2010 after serving as president and CEO of UTStarcom, which makes IP-based network solutions. Before that, he held positions with Unisys and Hewlett-Packard, coming to HP in 2002 when the tech giant bought Compaq Computer.

Revenue for the company has almost doubled during his tenure, according to ShoreTel board Chairman Chuck Kissner. In addition, ShoreTel has "taken a leadership position in cloud-based business communications and consistently grown its premise-based IP business phone system share of the market. … We intend to keep moving full speed ahead with our near-term plans to launch new innovative products and services and to continue to execute on our combined premise and cloud strategy."

In Feburary 2012, ShoreTel bought M5 Networks for $146 million, a move that enabled ShoreTel to offer cloud-based UC solutions to complement its on-premises products and to expand its reach beyond the midmarket and into the smaller-business market as well as into some enterprises. During an event in Boston in November 2012, Andrew Borg, an analyst with the Aberdeen Group, said the purchase benefited both companies. ShoreTel was able to rapidly ramp up its cloud capabilities, while M5 gained a global reach that it could not have on its own.

"It was a smart move for both companies," Borg told eWEEK. "It was one of those acquisitions that make sense."

It's paying off for ShoreTel. In April, the company announced that revenue for its ShoreTel Sky cloud-based UC business hit $18.2 million, a 7 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 28 percent gain year-over-year, and the number of installed customer seats grew 45 percent. In addition, several partners who dealt only with the cloud-only offerings added ShoreTel's on-premises solution to their portfolios, officials said.

At the same time, revenue for the on-premises business jumped 9 percent from the same period the year earlier, to $60.1 million.

"Rapid expansion in the cloud market this quarter was complemented by steady growth in our premise business," Blackmore said in a statement April 30 announcing the quarterly financial numbers, adding that both business lines were "thriving."