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Five9 shareholders doom $15B purchase by Zoom

It is a company's prerogative to change its mind.

And so shareholders of Five9, the call center software company which would have been Zoom's biggest-ever acquisition, voted down a $14.7 billion sale to Eric Yuan's company.

It was possibly the most striking example of Zoom fatigue yet.

Bad call: Zoom's sliding share price put the tin lid on its attempts to buy Five9.   (Source: Chris Montgomery on Unsplash)
Bad call: Zoom's sliding share price put the tin lid on its attempts to buy Five9.
(Source: Chris Montgomery on Unsplash)

The deal was an important part of Yuan's plan to expand and diversify Zoom's offerings for the post-pandemic age, into the lucrative contact center market.

Pivotal in this decision were the proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), who both came out against the deal earlier this month.

Five9's shareholders would have swapped their shares for 0.5533 Zoom shares each, at a 12.8% premium over the Five9's traded value.

This would have exposed its shareholders "to a more volatile stock whose growth prospects have become less compelling as society inches towards a post-pandemic environment," contended ISS.

Zoom's share price had dropped by 28% from $361.97 when the deal was announced on July 16 to $261.50 at the end of trading Thursday.

Let's call the whole thing off

CNBC tech journalist Ari Levy was not sure he'd "ever seen a mutually agreed upon dissolution of a deal this size," he tweeted.

And compared to the almost 30% decline in Zoom's share price, "Five9 shares have fallen only 11%, indicating Zoom has lower prospects than Five9. Yikes!" tweeted commentator Dare Obasanjo.

The San Ramon, California-based cloud call center operator said it will continue to operate now as a standalone publicly traded company.

Five9's software is used by 2,000 clients worldwide, including sports equipment company Under Armour, yoga and running clothes company Lululemon Athletica, and camera maker Olympus.

The US Department of Justice had also raised national security concerns over the deal, suggesting Zoom's reliance on a large number of Chinese developers could compromise the security of the service.

In a letter to the FCC, which already was examining the deal, the Justice Department's national security division said a further, inter-agency process should assess if the purchase presented a risk to US national security or law enforcement interests.

Yuan has pointed out none of its customers' data flows through servers in China, though last year some calls were mistakenly routed through China, and some encryption keys were stored on Chinese servers.

Yuan himself moved to the US at the age of 27 and is a naturalized US citizen.

But keep in contact

Zoom's CEO said his company would still launch its Zoom Video Engagement Center early in 2022, and continue its existing partnership with Five9.

"The contact center market remains a strategic priority for Zoom," he said in a statement emailed to Light Reading.

"We also plan to maintain our valued existing contact center partnerships with companies like Five9, Genesys, NICE inContact, Talkdesk, and Twilio," Yuan added.

But the Five9 deal was "in no way foundational to the success of our platform nor was it the only way for us to offer our customers a compelling contact center solution," he claimed.


Want to know more about the cloud? Check out our dedicated cloud-native networks and NFV content channel here on Light Reading.


Meanwhile, in another sign of the times, former Foursquare CEO David Shim released a free app this week called Read, which tells participants in a meeting if the meeting has become unproductive, by measuring metrics around engagement and frustration.

At least half of Zoom meetings are unproductive, says Shim.

As bets go, the one on the potential for cloud call centers is not a bad one. The call center market, $339.4 billion in 2020, should grow to $496 billion by 2027, predicts Statista.

But at least there can be some solace in the knowledge that Zoom is finding the move to a new normal at least as confusing as the rest of us.

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Pádraig Belton, contributing editor special to Light Reading

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