8x8 to acquire Fuze: Extending cloud communications leadership for the global enterprise. Learn More

Alex Culafi--VentureFizz


Alexander Culafi


Staff Writer


The private branch exchange, or PBX for short, is a longtime staple of enterprise business.


It’s a company’s internal, secure telephone system built for large-scale communication, and it typically consists of bulky on-prem hardware often found in a closet somewhere. If it needs to be upgraded or replaced, doing so can range from “hassle” to “nightmare.”


While many companies still use PBX hardware, advancements in communication and cloud technology has one wondering: In today’s modern era of technology, why can’t enterprises ditch the hardware in favor of a cloud-based software solution?


Fuze is a company that asked the very same question.


The company was founded as ThinkingPhones in 2006 by Steve Kokinos and Derek Yoo, who were both part of BladeLogic, another success story in Boston tech. Kokinos was a co-founder, while Yoo was a product manager for the enterprise data center automation software company. BladeLogic went public, and was later acquired by BMC for a reported $800M.


Kokinos and Yoo started the company after they noticed how PBX systems were not evolving at the same rate of change. It was the same old PBX system, year in and year out. The two thought there had to be a better way, and they set out to build a intelligent communications platform that leveraged today’s cloud-based architecture.


Fuze CEO Colin Doherty.
Fuze CEO Colin Doherty.


According to CEO Colin Doherty (who joined the company in February 2017), the company made great strides in terms of building a core product, but combined with the acquisitions of companies like Whaleback, Contactive, and FuzeBox, it really helped bring Fuze to where it is today.


“They made some very smart acquisitions over the years, which created the ability to do some machine learning work,” he said. “They added video capability to the company as well, and created the leading UCaaS [unified communications as a service] global platform in the market.”


ThinkingPhones renamed to Fuze in early 2016, following the acquisition of FuzeBox a few months prior.


The move signaled Fuze’s commitment toward becoming more unified, and as it exists today, the platform gives enterprise employees the ability to use voice, video, text messaging, and collaboration from a single mobile or desktop screen. That mobile part is crucial, Doherty said.


“If you look at the workforce today, there’s something like 2.5 billion millennials working, and they want to work from anywhere because that’s how their life was before coming into the workforce. Our platform embraces that energy and flexibility that people are looking for. That coincides with CIOs trying to get away from hardware that nobody uses, and towards software and mobile capability for the workforce today that, I think, people crave.”


The Fuze platform, which launched its 5.0 update in May, is sold primarily to enterprises, which accounts for 95% of the company’s business. Although the bulk of their dealings happen across North America and Europe, they have the capacity to deploy globally. They often need to, as some customers have upwards of 100 sites (and tens of thousands of employees) around the world. The average onboarding time is 6-9 months, but it varies; a company with a global presence might have a longer onboarding time, while a purely-US-based company can sometimes be onboarded in 3-4 months.




Fuze currently employs about 670 people across the globe, including Boston (its HQ), Ottawa, California, New York, Portugal, and elsewhere. This presence has allowed them to adopt a “follow-the-sun” support model, the CEO said, which refers to the company’s ability to provide 24/7 customer service.


The company grew approximately 40% last year, and Doherty said that Fuze is on pace to match (or exceed) that number this year. To support their growth even further, they announced a funding round of $150M led by Summit Partners last month to coincide with the 5.0 launch.


“The $150M investment round really allows us to scale our business, both on direct sales and the channel side. It allows us to scale and build partnerships, which will allow us to grow faster in different geographies and markets,” Doherty said. “We’re excited about where we can take the company.”


But in this vast opportunity to evolve, Fuze’s focal point remains unchanged.


“We’re focused on winning the enterprise UCaaS cloud space, and that’s what we do every day,” Doherty said. “That’s our mission.”


Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia and find the original article here.