Remote work was once a disruptive, new phenomenon of the modern working world; today, it’s present in nearly every industry. Instead of a corner office or a cubicle, the new office is virtually anywhere in the world with access to a laptop and an internet connection. Cloud computing and faster networks have transformed online infrastructure as laptops have been exponentially more powerful, portable, and affordable, and the internet widely accessible. In 2021, 93% of American adults used the internet compared to 52% in 2000. The Covid-19 pandemic has sharply accelerated the already trending remote work movement, altering the conversation around productivity, best practices, workplace culture, and business models. A robust and growing industry of online tools, technology, and infrastructure has seized the opportunity to further power the evolution of remote workforces across sectors.
Collaboration tools benefitted from the transition to remote work:
Zoom: Daily meeting participants (free and paid) grew to 300 million in April 2020, from just 10 million in December 2019. Q3 FY2021 revenue grew by 367% year-over-year (YoY) to USD 777 million.
Microsoft Teams: Daily active users rose to 115 million in October 2020, up from 20 million in November 2019.
Slack : Slack reported Q3 FY2021 revenue growth of 39% YoY to reach USD 234 million, acquiring 12,000 new paid customers, reflecting a 35% YoY growth.
Asana: Revenue spiked 55% YoY to USD 59 million supported by a 22% YoY increase in paying customers to 89,000. Paying customers grew by 7,000 in Q3, up around 9% QoQ, the highest jump over the previous four quarters.
Collaboration tools attracted large funding rounds during the second half of 2020:
Mural : raised USD 118 million in a Series B round in August 2020.
ClickUp: raised USD 100 million in a Series B funding in December 2020.
Dialpad: raised USD 100 million in Series E funding in October 2020.
mmhmm: raised USD 31 million in October 2020.
Livestorm: raised USD 30 million in Series B funding in November 2020.
Growing demand for remote working spurred:
Salesforce announced its USD 27.7 billion acquisition of Slack in December 2020.
Cisco announced the acquisition of Slido (an audience interaction tool for online meetings) and Babblelabs (AI-based audio communication software), in December 2020 and August 2020, respectively.
Dialpad announced its acquisition of video conferencing software and hardware provider HighFive in August 2020.
The majority of disruptors in the online productivity and collaboration tool space are focused on project management. In contrast, the incumbent-heavy video conferencing space is home to large disruptors like Zoom as well as complimentary platforms such as Mmhmm and Grain. Virtual office tools, which provide a mix of services combining tools from each segment, have seen the development of VR-based spaces equipped with spatial audio technology to emulate the in-office experience. These tools have garnered more interest recently which inlcudes the likes of Teamflow, Gather, and Branch.
Project management tools account for the majority of startups in this space and also account for the largest share of funding with USD 3.3 billion as of August 2021. While there are a significant number of large companies in the early and growth stages, a majority of the startups are in the seed stage. This can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic led remote work movement that led to an influx of new workplace tools.
Among private companies, virtual events platform Hopin which acquired video technology company Jamm leads with over USD 1 billion in funding, followed by visual collaboration platform Lucid and collaborative design platform InVision. As of August 2021, players have raised cumulative funding above USD 7.8 billion.
RingCentral is a provider of communication and collaboration tools, which includes its flagship product, RingCentral MVP (formerly RingCentral Office), a cloud-based unified communication as a service (UCaaS) platform for enterprises. It offers a range of features such as HD voice communication, online fax, text, video conferencing, screen sharing. The platform connects in-office, remote, and field employees under one phone system. In FY2021, the product accounted for 90% of the company’s subscription revenue. The company offers a free version of RingCentral MVP and a range of paid plans starting from USD 19.99 per user per month.
The company announced plans in March 2022 to introduce two UCaaS products with phone, messaging and video services targeting schools (Education Essentials priced USD12.99 per user per month) and colleges (Education Standard; USD 19.99 per user per month). RingCentral also disclosed plans to launch products vertical-specific products for areas such as healthcare, financial services and government. The company launched the beta version of RingCentral Webinar (March 2022), a webinar software for users in the US, Canada, UK, Europe, and Australia, which will be provided as an add-on for Ring Central MVP in the Summer of 2022.
Its acquisitions include cloud security startup Kindite’s technology and engineering team for an undisclosed amount in March 2021. Through the acquisition, RingCentral shored up its platform security by adding end-to-end encryption capabilities through the integration of Kindite’s technology. The company acquired DeepAffects, an AI intelligence startup, in December 2020. DeepAffects’ capabilities facilitated the development of RingCentral’s video meetings.
Key customers and partnerships
The company has also partnered with Atos (2020), Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (2020), and Avaya Holdings (2019) to launch UCaaS products offering a combination of messaging and video conferencing solutions.
Funding and financials
RingCentral’s total revenue grew by 35% year-over-year (YoY) to USD 1.6 billion in FY2021, driven by a 36% YoY increase in subscription revenue to USD 1.5 billion, which accounted 90% of total revenue. As of FY2021 end, total ARR was USD 1.8 billion, up by 39% YoY. Non-GAAP operating income rose 40.8% YoY to USD 162 million in FY2021. The company guided FY2022 full-year revenue at USD 1.990 billion–2.015 billion, implying 25.0%–26.0% YoY growth. The FY2022 GAAP operating margin was guided at the range of (20.1%) to (19.0%) and FY 2022 non-GAAP EPS was guided to USD 1.83–1.87.
Incumbents in the remote work technology space provide a range of productivity tools and services, from file-sharing to video and chat platforms to conferencing and business software. Some incumbents, such as video conferencing pioneer Vidyo, have been in the space since as early as 2005; Google’s G Suite was launched in 2006.
As the remote work trend has gained traction over the past few years, established technology companies that haven’t traditionally offered remote work products have entered the space, including Salesforce, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The space has also seen heightened competition, prompting continual innovation and improvements, as seen when longstanding remote tools provider Cisco introduced voice intelligence features and video messages as part of its collaborative tools offering.
The industry also has a history of significant M&A transactions among incumbent players. Announced initially in November 2020, Salesforce completed the acquisition of messaging platform Slack in July 2021 for USD 27.7 billion. In May 2020, Verizon Communications acquired B2B video platform BlueJeans Network for around USD 500 million and in August 2020, Cisco announced it intends to acquire the AI-based audio communication software company BabbleLabs.
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