UCaaS Vendor ThinkingPhones Buys Fuze for Video Collaboration

The deal is the third acquisition by ThinkingPhones in the last 15 months as it looks to grow the capabilities of its cloud-based UC platform.

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ThinkingPhones, continuing its aggressive acquisition strategy as a way to add capabilities to its cloud-based unified communications offerings, is bolstering its video conferencing expertise through the purchase of Fuze.

ThinkingPhones announced the acquisition of Fuze Nov. 16, saying the company’s cloud-based video conferencing technology will fit well with ThinkingPhones' unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) solutions, and will enable the vendor to address the growing demand for easy-to-use video collaboration over any device.

"Until now, integrating video and mobile have been afterthoughts at best," ThinkingPhones founder and CEO Steve Kokinos wrote in a post on the company blog. "By acquiring Fuze, we are leap-frogging years of development and innovation to deliver simplified, consistent video experiences across the devices and scenarios that matter most in the modern mobile world—from mobile to tablet to desktop to any conference room with a door."

ThinkingPhones has made two other acquisitions in the last 15 months. In August 2014, the company bought Whaleback, a company based in New Hampshire that provided managed and cloud-based services to midsize companies. In February, the vendor bought Contactive, which brought analytics to ThinkingPhones' solutions.

With Fuze, ThinkingPhones is getting a company with cloud-based video conferencing tools that include such features as HD-quality voice and video as well as content sharing across various devices, PCs and meeting rooms. It also is getting Fuze's more than 100,000 customers, which include Groupon, Starbucks, Macys.com and Thoughtworks.

Fuze President Charlie Newark-French said the companies bring complementary technologies to the deal. Both offer cloud-based solutions, with Thinking Phones working to deliver a unified voice, text and conferencing service on a single cloud platform, Newark-French said in a post on his company's blog.

"It doesn't take a video algorithm specialist to see we were meant to join forces," he wrote. "Our companies share the common vision of a world of high quality, mobile first, user-oriented collaboration tools. We both understand that video is an increasingly critical part of effective workplace communication and that it needs to go alongside voice, chat, messaging, and conferencing."

Both companies are looking to take advantage of the movement in both UC and video conferencing to the cloud, driven by such trends as an increasingly mobile workforce and bring-your-own-device (BYOD). Most established communications vendors—including Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Avaya, ShoreTel and Mitel—are making aggressive moves in the cloud, while a growing number of smaller startups also are looking to make inroads into the market with their cloud- and software-based solutions.

An IHS Infonetics survey released in March found that by 2016, more than 50 percent of the 162 large and midsize organizations in North America surveyed will be running some of their UC applications in either private or public clouds.

"Businesses continue to migrate their unified communications applications to the cloud, citing flexibility as the key reason," Diane Myers, principal analysts for voice-over-IP (VoIP), UC and IP multimedia subsystems at IHS Infonetics, said in a statement at the time. "Cloud solutions are inherently more flexible than premises-based solutions, offering businesses the ability to scale users up and down, centralize management and deploy new features and applications quickly."

Customers initially will be able to use Fuze products alongside ThinkingPhones’ offerings via a single interface, with a fully integrated product coming next year, according to ThinkingPhones.