Polycom Taps Ex-NCR Exec as Its Next CEO

Peter Leav takes over four months after his predecessor resigned and will lead a company being challenged in an evolving market.

Polycom has a new CEO, four months after Andrew Miller resigned the position amid questions about his expense reports.

The video conferencing technology vendor announced Dec. 3 that Peter Leav, an executive with NCR, will be president and CEO, and serve on the company's board of directors. Board Chairman Kevin Parker became the interim CEO after Miller's resignation in July.

"Peter’s strong background in operations, general management and sales, spanning a successful 20+ year career in communications, technology and services and his energy and passion are strong assets to take Polycom to the next level," Parker said in a statement. "His experience leading a global organization and his proven track record of driving revenue and shareholder value made Peter the natural choice for us."

Leav's most recent position at NCR was as executive vice president and president of the company's industry and field operations, where he oversaw about 8,000 employees in 120 countries. His business generated more than $5.7 billion in revenues in 2012. Leav led NCR's global sales team for both direct and indirect channels, and was in charge of professional services and industry lines of business, particularly financial services, retail, hospitality, travel, technology and telecommunications.

He also was a member of the executive committee at NCR, a company that develops technologies for consumer transactions. The executive committee helps create and execute the company's worldwide strategy.

Leav takes over a company that is the second largest vendor in a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive video conferencing market. According to numbers from IDC, Polycom was second behind Cisco Systems in the video conferencing equipment space, with 23.9 percent market share in the third quarter. Cisco's share stands at 44.7 percent.

Both Cisco and Polycom built their video conferencing businesses on the strength of hardware. However, trends such as greater worker mobility, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and cloud computing are driving a push for more software-based solutions that enable people to initiate and participate in video conferences from anywhere and on any device, ranging from massive telepresence rooms to their tablets and smartphones.

Polycom, Cisco and other established players are aggressively pushing software strategies—such as Polycom's RealPresence platform—but also now must deal with a growing number of smaller competitors, such as Vidyo and Blue Jeans Network, which offer software- and cloud-based solutions.

At the same time, the video conferencing market—like others in the tech industry—is under pressure from the global economic environment, which is being hampered by such issues as the Draconian budget cuts in the United States known as the sequester to softness in emerging markets, according to IDC analysts.

In a report last month, the analysts said third-quarter revenues in all segments of the market declined over the same period in 2012, even though video collaboration continues to rank high on executive priorities. The $576 million in sales in the third quarter were 9.7 percent less than what the market generated during the same three months last year.

In the third quarter, Polycom had $336 million in revenues—just over $1 million more than in the third quarter of 2012—with net income of $19.3 million.

In a letter to customers, Leav said he is confident about Polycom's products and people and excited about the future.

"Polycom's voice, video and content-sharing collaboration solutions are transforming our industry, businesses of all sizes, and people's lives," he wrote. "Our current and future success centers on the creation and delivery of solutions and services that help your organization defy distance and bring people together to solve their business challenges more quickly and efficiently."