New year, new CEO proved the mantra for several customer experience stalwarts last month.
Indeed, Twilio, Vonage, and GoTo each replaced the head honcho of their executive table.
Of course, each company has its reasons – as shared below. Yet, Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst at ZK Research, believes it’s indicative of a much broader market trend.
“The capital markets have spoken,” he told UC Today’s Big News Update. “A few years ago, they rewarded companies for growth at all costs.
Twilio, alongside brands like 8×8, RingCentral, and Zoom, poured money into their sales and marketing efforts in that environment. The latter two brands spent up to 50 percent of their revenue on such activities.
As a result, these brands reported big losses but also big growth. According to Kerravala, that led to ridiculous valuations.
“Today, that has changed,” he said. “Wall Street rewards profitability, which brings a different executive skillset.
The goal now is to hunker down and try to run a profitable organization. That includes growing your customer base but also your stature within that base.
That trend proved present at even the biggest CX companies last year, with Salesforce focusing on profitability after investor pressure.
Such pressure may have influenced changes at the top of several other CX companies last year, too. Indeed, 8×8, Aircall, Calabrio, Cresta, Momentive (now SurveyMoney), RingCentral, and Sangoma all switched CEOs last year.
Yet, if January is a sign of what’s to come, expect even more changes in 2024. As Kerravala concluded:
It is something I hope we see more of because it’s a different time, and it’s good to bring some new talent into this industry.
What Happened at Twilio, Vonage, and GoTo?
Twilio recorded $1.38BN in annual net losses in May 2023, and despite a big push to profitability, it still records $100MN+ in losses each quarter.
Addressing this status quo is likely a significant focus for new CEO Khozema Shipchandler.
Yet, Jon Arnold, Principal Analyst at J Arnold & Associates, suggests that the go-to-market has held Twilio back in the customer experience space – and that needs adjusting, fast.
“Any company that is engineering- and developer-driven… it’s a risky approach,” he said.
How long has it taken us to get a handle on Twilio? It has taken me years to figure out, and I still don’t really know. And, when it’s that difficult, you can only really have that type of leadership going for so long.
Meanwhile, at Vonage, the emphasis pivoted sharply from CCaaS and UCaaS to CPaaS and mobility following its acquisition by Ericsson acquisition in 2022.
Why? Because Ericsson wants to attach Vonage CPaaS to their mobile infrastructure and sell higher-level services, which is what will ultimately drive its revenue.
As such, bringing in Niklas Heuveldop, a networks specialist and corporate highflyer, to take charge of that transition is perhaps the sensible move.
Finally, in regards to GoTo, Kerravala didn’t mince his words. “They were a pioneer of enterprise communications and have done nothing but flounder,” he said.
In stating this, Kerravala points to its Citrix ownership and how long it took the vendor to embed high-quality video within its UCaaS platform.
“I look at them as the company that has almost been forgotten about,” Kerravala concludes. “They need to do something drastically different in an industry that is becoming increasingly more competitive.”
Zoom: Paving a Path to Follow?
As Zoom entered 2023, it faced a tricky macroenvironment, inflated growth, and the decline of its consumer business as people returned to pre-pandemic routines.
While the video communications provider kept its CEO and CFO, it switched the rest of its executive team, invested in new arenas, and earned Wall Street acknowledged earnings growth over time.
Craig Durr, Senior Analyst at Futurum Group, believes bringing in this outside expertise helped Zoom realize its enterprise potential and appease the investor side of its business, which others proved reluctant to do.
“Change is better than no change,” he summarized. “If you’re floundering – and can’t figure out what to do – instigating change will help out in this space.”
Zoom’s enterprise growth success story is – in part – due to its early successes in the CCaaS market. For more on this, check out our article: A Second Zoom Boom Is Coming, and It’s in CCaaS