Plantronics to buy Polycom for $2 billion

Plantronics to buy Polycom for $2 billion
Plantronics and Polycom have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Plantronics will acquire Polycom in a cash and stock transaction valued at $2.0 billion enterprise value.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close by the end of the third calendar quarter of 2018.

Joe Burton, President and CEO Plantronics said: "With the addition of Polycom's solutions across video, audio and collaboration we will be able to deliver a comprehensive portfolio of communications and collaboration touch points and services to our customers and channel partners. This will put Plantronics in an ideal position to solve for today's enterprise collaboration requirements while capitalising on market opportunities associated with the evolving, intelligent enterprise."

"Polycom has returned to growth by focusing on building strong ecosystem partnerships and delivering innovative, smart solutions for our customers and partners," said Mary T. McDowell, Chief Executive Officer, Polycom. "Bringing Plantronics and Polycom together will broaden the breadth of solutions available to customers and partners and create a consistent end-user experience across many collaboration applications and devices. As one company, Plantronics and Polycom will make it even easier for all customers to solve big-business problems through human-to-human connections."

Anna Mitchell finds out more from Chris Thompson, vice president of B2B marketing at Plantronics

AM: Why is Polycom a good fit for Plantronics?

CT: This isn’t the first time we’ve looked at the company but now we’ve really characterised it as the right time with the right technologies given what is happening with our customers today. 

So when we step back from that, the macro trend that drove the timing was a shift that we’ve seen in our customers over the last couple of years and it’s to do with the concept we’re calling open collaboration. It’s also a move away from standardisation in corporate communications and collaboration applications. 

People used to pick a PBX and they deployed it. Now, with mobility and as-s-service collaboration offerings any work group in any organisation can pick the technology that works best for them. The key is that that changes for an individual throughout the day. 

What happened with Polycom about 18 months ago is they did a strategic pivot. Rather than providing the infrastructure and the end points, they decided to build best-in-class end points and make sure they could connect to whatever interface the customer had deployed. So it lined up nicely with our strategy, which is to do exactly the same. 

We also had a vision to build out more touch points. Whether that’s collaboration experience on the person with products like our headsets; on the desk with audio conferencing and phone stations; or in the room, which is where Soundscaping came from. What Polycom gives us is a three-year leap on our vision. 

AM: How will the two companies' sales channels fit together?

CT: When you get down to the end customer they are typically already buying a mix of Polycom and Plantronics products. Our customers are already familiar with buying these products together and often buy them from the same retailers. When you look at our distributors and resellers, there’s a high degree of commonality between the two. 

There is also our legacy headset reseller channel, which we do think wants to expand their businesses and it would be a new opportunity for Polycom products, especially audio conferencing and IP phone technologies.

Of course Polycom’s expertise with in room video and in room systems is a really nice complement to our Soundscaping product. So it gives us gravitas in our channels. 

AM: Is this part of a plan to offer a more complete system offering?

CT: We want to provide a complete set of peripherals for any time. So when you’re working with Cisco and then you go off to Microsoft; we want you to be able to use a Plantronics product and we want the experience to be great and we don’t want you to think twice about how it happens. We want you to connect and off you go. That is a core part of our strategy and the Polycom acquisition lets us expand the number of ways that we can deliver the experience. 

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