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News briefs: Reddit doubles valuation to $6 billion

Reddit will expand into international markets after raising $250 million. It also announced plans to double its staff size and invest in video and advertising.

Reddit raised more than $250 million in its latest round of funding, doubling its valuation to $6 billion as membership and advertising revenue grew significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The social news site recently drew intense media coverage for its role in the GameStop trading mania.

Reddit made the fundraising announcement this week, adding that its direct advertising revenue increased 90% year over year in the last quarter. The company plans to invest the money in video, advertising, consumer products and international market expansion. It also plans to double the number of its employees.

"It's surprising … that such a relatively lean team has been behind one of the most visited websites in the world," the company said in a blog post. "We are confident in our mission to provide community and belonging to everyone and are well-positioned for the growth we have planned."

Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian founded Reddit in 2005. The site is a social news aggregator where members can post content in topic groups called communities or "subreddits." Members can upvote specific posts to make them more visible on the website. It currently has more than 52 million daily active users and is home to more than 100,000 communities. The pace of the site's membership growth has quickened during the pandemic.

Last month, Reddit was at the center of the wild trading in GameStop stock. Hedge funds that shorted the stock lost money initially when members of a Reddit community called r/WallStreetBets encouraged nonprofessional investors to buy shares of the failing video game retailer.

Google takes Workspace features out of beta

Google has made new group features in Workspace generally available. The features let administrators or group owners set expiration dates for membership and designate security groups. The capabilities had been available in beta.

People on Workspace can use groups for a variety of purposes, including to set up email lists for people to communicate and collaborate. Administrators can also set up other groups to access specific applications and resources within the productivity suite.

The new set of features let administrators designate security groups responsible for controlling app and resource access. Admins can also set expiration dates on group memberships, kicking people out of groups when the specified time is up.

Avaya CCaaS carries quarter

Avaya reported this week higher revenue from sales of cloud-based services, including its contact center.

In the quarter ended Dec. 31, revenue rose 4% year over year to $743 million. The company's net loss was $4 million, down from $54 million a year ago.

Sales of OneCloud, Avaya's combination of contact center and unified communications as a service, drove annual recurring revenue of $262 million.

"Our success reflects a deep commitment ... to transform Avaya into an enterprise leader in cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions," Avaya CEO Jim Chirico said.

Three years ago, the company filed for bankruptcy and has since focused on shifting its many on-premises customers to the cloud. Last year, Avaya teamed up with RingCentral to bring the UCaaS offering Avaya Cloud Office to market.

According to Chirico, Avaya has focused its efforts, time and investments into redefining Avaya as a cloud company.

Masergy switches from BroadSoft to Cisco Webex

Masergy has started to phase out the Cisco BroadSoft unified communications platform from its managed software-defined WAN service and replace it with Cisco's latest UC product, Webex.

Masergy announced this week that it has stopped offering BroadSoft to new customers. Companies that use the outdated UC platform can set the pace for switching to Webex.

Companies that use Webex have more robust meeting and group messaging capabilities than BroadSoft users, said Rudy Tibuni, director of product management for cloud communications at Masergy. Webex is a "huge upgrade" for Masergy, but the switch is critical to remain competitive.

"Webex just provides a much better interface," Tibuni said. "That's one of the reasons that we wanted to go down that route."

Masergy has thousands of customers using its managed SD-WAN with BroadSoft, among them many small- and medium-sized businesses, Tibuni said.

In 2017, Masergy partnered with Cisco to build a UCaaS product on the BroadSoft platform BroadWorks. Cisco acquired BroadSoft that year and integrated it into Webex in 2018. Masergy and Cisco partnered after the BroadSoft acquisition, before Cisco started the switch to Webex.

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