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Lifesize and Serenova merge to create expanded portfolio

Video conferencing hardware and software vendor Lifesize is merging with contact-center-as-a-service provider Serenova.

Lifesize and Serenova have merged to eventually deliver a full suite of unified communications and contact center products.

The merger is an unusual pairing. Lifesize makes video conferencing hardware and software, while Serenova sells a contact-center-as-a-service platform.

The joint company wants to become a full-suite provider of workplace and contact center communications software. But the firm is still missing some critical products in that regard, namely an IP telephony system and a messaging platform.

The new company plans to pursue acquisitions, partnerships and internal development to expand its portfolio in the coming years. More immediately, the company will find ways to incorporate Lifesize's video platform into Serenova's contact center.

The move underscores a shift in buying preferences towards single-vendor cloud suites that combine telephony, messaging and video conferencing. Some companies are also looking to buy UC and contact center software from the same provider to create a single point of contact for support.

"I think the biggest story is standalone plays are going to struggle," said Sheila McGee-Smith, principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics. The apparent goal of the Lifesize-Serenova merger is to create another competitor to cloud vendors like RingCentral, 8x8 and Vonage, she said.

Craig MalloyCraig Malloy

Lifesize founder Craig Malloy acknowledged that his company struggled to generate enough brand awareness to compete on a large scale with video conferencing products by Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Zoom.

The merger will allow Lifesize to emerge from "the shadow of Zoom" by building a full suite of products, Malloy said. "We decided here at Lifesize that we wanted to take control of our own destiny and not be the guy standing up in musical chairs when the music stops."

But developing a competitive UC suite won't be easy. The vendor will still have to contend with heavyweights like Microsoft and Cisco. Plus, Zoom has been rapidly expanding telephony and messaging features.

"With regard to turning the combined Lifesize and Serenova suite into a full UC suite, I think that's a tough road forward given the crowded current market," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research.

The new company could find greater success by targeting specific industries, like education and healthcare, Lazar said. The vendor could sell remote learning products to the former and telemedicine platforms to the latter.

Lifesize and Serenova are a good match geographically. Both are headquartered in Austin, Tex., and the locations of their customers are complementary: Serenova generates 73% of its revenue in the United States, while Lifesize generates more than 50% of its revenue outside the United States.

Malloy is the CEO of the new company. Former Serenova CEO John Lynch is the senior vice president of sales. The combined company has roughly 450 employees and 10,000 customers.

Marlin Equity Partners, an investment firm that acquired the technology that became Serenova in 2016, purchased Lifesize on Feb. 28. The firm made the deal public Tuesday but did not disclose financial details.

The merger is the second within the past year to unite video conferencing and contact center vendors. In May 2019, Enghouse Systems acquired Vidyo for $40 million.

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