Polycom Partners Eager For News On Channel Leadership, Foresee Some Executive Departures

Polycom partners have told CRN they expect Mitel's proposed acquisition of the company to result in some executives leaving the unified communications specialist. But which executives stay -- or come aboard -- the new channel team is what will more directly impact their business, they added.

"It's going to be more important for us to see who stays on the channel side of it," said an executive from a longtime Polycom partner, who declined to be identified. "People leave when a big merger like this happens; it's just the way it works out. … Polycom has had [been challenged by] a revolving door on the channel leadership side."

In September, Polycom's worldwide channel chief Mark Arman left the company and later joined UC competitor StarLeaf in February.

[Related: Cisco Partners Scoff At Mitel-Polycom Merger, Say Integration Could Derail Innovation]

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In August, Marcy Kawadler, former channel business manager at Polycom and one of CRN's 2015 Women of the Channel, left the company to join Redbooth, another UC competitor to Polycom.

And in March, Gary Testa, global vice president for Polycom's Cloud and Service Providers Solutions Group, jumped ship to join competitor Star2Star Communications, a cloud-based unified communications provider.

Jim Kruger, chief marketing officer at Polycom, in an email to CRN said Mitel CEO Richard McBee will lead the new combined company as CEO. Mitel CFO Steven Spooner and Terry Mathews, Mitel's chairman of the board, will keep their roles in the new organization.

"Further information on the organization's management will be announced following the completion of the transaction," said Kruger.

Looking ahead, Gary Berzack, CTO and COO of New York-based eTribeca, a Polycom partner, said it's standard for some executives to leave during a significant merger and he expects the same in this case.

"People start looking for the next thing," said Berzack. "An acquisition and merger is an ability for people to have movement --in, out and across."

What a new combined Mitel-Polycom channel program will look like as well as who will be involved in its new leadership team is still unknown at this point.

"It's going to be interesting to see who, and how, [a Mitel-Polycom company] will sort of merge and form a new type of channel program," said an executive for a solution provider ranked on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500 list and a longtime Polycom partner, who declined to be identified.

The executive also said top executives working at hardware providers like Polycom are seeking to move io companies focusing on software-defined cloud environments.

"Those emerging cloud environments … that's the new nirvana," he said.

Meanwhile, longtime Polycom board member Betsy Atkins resigned Tuesday after a 17-year stint with the vendor. Atkins’ resignation was effective April 15, the same day Mitel said it had agreed to buy Polycom.

Atkins said in a statement that she was leaving in order to pursue other opportunities and is a supporter of the merger. "I am highly supportive of the transaction and believe we have reached a very good outcome for our shareholders," she said.

The acquisition is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016.