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Monday, December 31, 2012

Evolve IP closes strong year with local deal


Tom Paine



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Wayne-based cloud services provider Evolve IP closed out another year of strong growth, COO and GM Guy Fardone told me in a phone interview. He declined to reveal revenue figures for 2012, but said growth had averaged well over 100% per year over the past few years. Evolve IP appeared on the 2012 Inc. 500 (#321) with reported 2011 revenue of $17.2 million, up from $1.4 million in 2008 (it was founded in 2006).

The company has also been doing some deals, not to buy technology, but to acquire some managed service providers' customer bases and partnering with others. Locally, in late December Evolve IP announced a transaction with Exton-based Semperon, in which Evolve IP acquired Semperon’s Broadsoft Unified Communications customer base and Semperon became an Evolve IP reselling partner. Fardone would not disclose the size of the transaction or the number of customers involved, but did say
the two companies had worked together for some time. Evolve IP is also using acquisitions and partnerships to expand towards a nationwide service footprint. In September, it acquired Chicago area managed communications provider IPiphany.

Guy Fardone




When I asked Fardone how Evolve IP compared to other Philly area-based VoIP/Unified Communications providers such as Alteva and CoreDial, he said EvolveIP was considerably larger, tended to serve larger enterprise customers, and probably provided a higher percentage of data services in addition to VoIP as part of its overall business mix (Alteva parent WVT Communications reported cloud communications revenue of $3.6 million in third quarter 2012, an increase of 38% over the prior year). One particular area of focus for Evolve IP is serving the high volume corporate call center market.

Evolve IP is not like a traditional telecom company that operates a large network. Rather it is more of a software company that has built a proprietary platform which integrates unified communications, VoIP and virtualization technology from vendors including VMware, EMC, Broadsoft, Cisco and Microsoft. Its proprietary OSSmosis Portal gives customers a dashboard from which they can self-manage their communications features. It provides a "virtual switch" and manages customer data off premise in the Cloud, operating data centers in Wayne and Las Vegas. It currently has 80 employees, and they are looking for people (see current openings).

Evolve IP has raised over $24 million. Investors have included Ira M. Lubert, chairman and co-founder of Independence Capital Partners, and Peter G. Peterson, co-founder of pioneering PE firm The Blackstone Group and one time US Secretary of Commerce. Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Co-Founder Thomas J Gravina previously served as President and CEO of King of Prussia-based ATX Communications, which was acquired by Broadview Networks in 2006. Fardone, who was also an Executive Vice President at ATX, is active in the Philly Tech community and with organizations including PACT. Both Gravina and Fardone are Villanova graduates. Vice Chairman and Co-Founder Michael Peterson is the son of Peter G. Peterson.

While many of the managed service aspects of business telecom require a strong local presence, and various network providers have different regional focuses, the software and cloud computing aspects are not inherently local. Continued movement toward nationwide consolidation in the industry is inevitable.

Earlier this year, Evolve IP opened an incubator-like "innovation center" for startups at its campus on Old Eagle School Road. The center, which also offers possible tax and assistance benefits due to it being located in a Keystone Innovation Zone, initially is offering 10,000 square feet of space, although that could eventually be expanded to 100,000. Evolve IP also described how it helped keep some customers afloat after Hurricane Sandy.




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