Zeacom cans listing plans, buys for scale

Zeacom embarks on a US acquisition

Auckland-based unified communications software company Zeacom has shelved plans for a public listing, citing unfavourable market conditions as the reason, and instead embarked on a US acquisition.

Zeacom, which launched a new version of its software suite last week, says it is looking at the acquisition to boost the company’s scale. CEO Miles Valentine says Zeacom’s revenue is in the $20 million to $25 million range now, but revenue in the $40 million area is required.

Valentine says the acquisition will not be funded from a share offering, but through private equity. Investigations into listing options ceased about a month ago, he says.

Valentine says the target company, which he wouldn’t name, has complementary technology and customer base to Zeacom. He estimates an announcement will be made on the deal in mid-June.

Computerworld reported Zeacom’s listing plans last September after it advertised for a marketing communications manager to act as “the public face of the company when it goes to float”. Valentine said at the time the listing would depend on market conditions.

He says perceptions of Zeacom have shifted from being a callcentre software company to that of a unified communications provider. That means Zeacom is now selling software that is applicable to “just about every business”, he says.

In turn, that wider market opportunity is opening up new discussions with resellers. Valentine says one US-based reseller has registered a significant increase in activity, with 55 sales leads and six sales in February alone.

March sales, he says, were a record for Zeacom, primarily off US successes. Valentine says the company has moved, as a result, from break-even to recording good profits.

Another factor driving Zeacom’s performance is its partnership with NEC, he says. NEC sells Zeacom’s Unified Communications suite as UCB.

Valentine says Zeacom took a 20m x 10m stand at the VoiceCon conference, in Florida, last month and briefed analysts and customers. That trip also confirmed in his mind that other providers were still in “catch-up mode,” he says.

He says rival applications are not unified, requiring four, five or more servers to operate. Zeacom’s suite requires a single server and because it is CTI-based can provide tight integration with existing voice services, he says.

The new Zeacom Communications Suite 5.0 adds functionality such as desktop conferencing and mobility (for Windows mobile, BlackBerry and some Nokia models) as well as providing further enhancements to Microsoft Outlook integration and rich presence.

Users can now manage their presence status and other functions from their mobile phones, but Valentine says the “sizzle” is in the conferencing. He says setting up dial-in conferences is a pain-point for many, but the suite allows these to be set up and reconfigured on the fly. Conferences can be created and named in a similar way to other documents to be reactivated later.

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