ThinkingPhones Changes Name to Fuze, Gets $112 Million in Funding

The company is working to expand its market reach and capabilities as it looks to compete in a rapidly changing and competitive UC market.

cloud communications

ThinkingPhones in November 2015 bought Fuze in an effort to grow the video conferencing capabilities of its cloud-based unified communications offerings.

Now ThinkingPhones is Fuze.

ThinkingPhones executives on Feb. 9 announced that the company is changing its name to Fuze, which they say better reflects the rapidly expanding nature of the vendor's portfolio. At the same time, they also noted that the company closed a $112 million round of financing, money that Fuze will use to expand its reach globally and to invest in product innovation, particularly around the effort to simplify business communications.

"Our new company name, Fuze, removes the limitations of 'ThinkingPhones' and provides a name suggestive of our vision—a unified platform that seamlessly 'fuzes' voice, video, and collaboration," Fuze CEO Steve Kokinos, who founded ThinkingPhones in 2006, wrote in a post on the company blog. "Our unified platform marries voice, text, messaging, collaboration, and video to make communication meaningful and collaboration authentic—all while providing real-time insights that help you work smarter, backed by technology that is intuitive to the individual. This all goes a long way towards making work enjoyable and productive."

The acquisition of Fuze was part of a major push by ThinkingPhones over the past couple of years to broaden its capabilities and better compete in a growing and fast-changing unified communications (UC) space. The company in August 2014 bought Whaleback, a New Hampshire-based company that provided managed and cloud-based services to midsize companies. In February 2015, ThinkingPhones bought Contactive, which brought analytics to the vendor's offerings.

With Fuze, ThinkingPhones brought in cloud-based video conferencing products that enable people to collaborate across multiple devices using tools like high-definition voice and video as well as content sharing. Fuze also brought with it more than 100,000 customers, including such high-profile ones as Groupon, Starbucks and Thoughtworks.

In 2015, ThinkingPhones also added more than 400 new people to its workforce and grew revenues more than 150 percent, Kokinos wrote. In addition, the company added more than 175 new customers.

The moves come at a time of transition in the UC market, as hardware-based on-premises systems are increasingly giving way to software- and cloud-based solutions. IDC analysts predict the cloud communications market will grow from $123 million in 2013 to $7.5 billion in 2018, and IHS Infonetics in March 2015 said that in a survey, more than half the respondents said they will be running at least some of their UC services over private or public clouds by 2016. Synergy Research Group analysts last month said the unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) market is growing by about 16 percent a year.

"UCaaS continues to be a force for change within the business communications market," Synergy's Chief Analyst Jeremy Duke said in a statement in January. "There has been a rapid rise of some disruptive new vendors and I do not expect the pace of change to slacken. Now some vendors are broadening their product offerings to provide more comprehensive solutions."

Those vendors include top players like Cisco Systems and Microsoft, as well as other vendors, from ShoreTel and Mitel to Avaya and Unify. There also are a number of smaller firms similar to Fuze that are making moves in this industry.

The new funding should help. The $112 million in new funding brings to $200 million the total amount raised by the company. The latest round was led by Summit Partners, whose managing director, Bruce Evans, also is joining Fuze's board of directors.