Tom Sweeney

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Posts Tagged ‘Ottawa Technology Magazine’

Protus’s Ottawa staff levelled in wake of j2 takeover

Posted by sweens on March 23, 2011

Krystle Chow 
Ottawa Business Journal

More than 100 staff have been let go from Internet fax and communications services provider Protus’s local office since the Ottawa company announced its $213-million acquisition by Hollywood rival j2 Global Communications three months ago, a company official confirmed.

Steve Adams, Protus’s vice-president and general manager, said about 130 or 140 people are currently employed in the Ottawa operations. That’s down significantly from the 300-employee figure recorded in Protus’s latest Ottawa Technology magazine listing.

“When the initial announcement was made, there were layoffs, but that’s behind us now,” said Mr. Adams. “It’s a stable environment here and we’re hiring now; we have open positions in (customer) support and technical areas.”

The news adds detail to an e-mail acquired in early December, in which Protus’s then-CEO, Joseph Nour, wrote to employees that there would be an “immediate reduction” of overall head count.

Mr. Adams stressed that j2 has shown “real commitment” to the Ottawa area and to its e-mail marketing business Campaigner, which Protus acquired in 2008.

According to Mr. Adams, j2 is “keeping all the functions necessary” to run and support Campaigner in town – including sales, marketing, engineering and development, operations and customer support – although he confirmed the accounting department is migrating to j2’s California head office and there is no longer a legal team in Ottawa.

Meanwhile, the MyFax virtual faxing service – which brought in about 81 per cent of Protus’s total revenues in the 12 months leading to Oct. 31, 2010, compared to approximately 11 per cent for Campaigner – will also continue to survive.

“MyFax is a very strong product and a very strong brand, and j2 continues to invest in it and support it,” said Mr. Adams, who pointed out that j2 operates a number of brands in the Internet faxing space, including its own eFax offering.

MyFax and eFax were the subjects of a five-year battle between Protus and j2, with the latter accusing the local firm of infringing on its Internet faxing patents and of sending junk faxes to j2 customers.

Several other competitors in the fax-to-e-mail industry were also involved in j2 lawsuits, including San Francisco-based CallWave Inc. and Miami’s Venali Inc. However, CallWave settled its patent infringement lawsuit with j2 in 2007, with j2 buying its rival’s Internet fax assets in 2009. And like Protus, Venali was acquired by j2 in September 2010 as part of a buying spree that brought a total of eight companies under the j2 umbrella.

Despite the overlap between j2’s various e-faxing brands as a result of the acquisitions, j2 spokesperson Bill Threlkeld noted in an e-mail to OBJ that “MyFax will run as it always has from its Ottawa base” for the foreseeable future.

“Over time, components of the service may migrate to other j2 facilities for efficiency, just as some of j2’s other operations may migrate to Ottawa for efficiency,” he wrote, adding that Protus’s call centre in Ottawa has already begun to take calls for other j2 brands.

The one thing that remains uncertain is the fate of Protus’s my1voice virtual phone service, which Mr. Adams said is “not yet determined.” The business made up three per cent of Protus’s total sales at the time of the j2 acquisition.

“My1voice is important to j2 but … there is some product overlap,” he said.

Protus’s strong presence in the Ottawa tech scene and its second-place position in the Internet faxing industry made the company an attractive target for j2. MyFax reached 500,000 subscribers in 2010, although it trailed behind eFax’s 11 million users.

THE ‘FAX’ ABOUT PROTUS

1997: Protus is founded.

May 2004: Protus introduces Internet-based virtual fax service.

August 2005: j2 Global Communications launches patent lawsuit against Protus.

February 2006: j2 accuses Protus and competitor Venali of sending unsolicited faxes to j2 customers.

2007-2009: Protus wins OBJ’s Employees’ Choice Award, recognizing a high level of job satisfaction among staff.

December 2007: Protus announces that j2 patent suit has been dismissed with prejudice in the central district of California.

June 2008: Protus acquires Campaigner and launches my1voice virtual PBX phone service. j2 files another patent infringement lawsuit against Protus and two other companies in the eastern district of Texas.

February 2009: j2 acquires Callwave’s Internet fax assets.

April 2009: Protus named one of OBJ‘s Fastest Growing Companies.

February 2010: Protus announces it has defeated j2 patents in Europe and the United States.

September 2010: j2 buys Venali.

December 2010: Protus acquired by j2.

http://www.obj.ca/Technology/2011-03-22/article-2353255/Protus%26rsquo%3Bs-Ottawa-staff-levelled-in-wake-of-j2-takeover/1

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Layoffs at March Networks slash 7% of global workforce

Posted by sweens on June 8, 2010

On the eve of announcing its fourth-quarter results, March Networks (TSX:MN) confirmed Tuesday that it recently laid off seven per cent of its global workforce – a total of 20 employees out of about 250 people.

“It consists of strategy or transitioning the March business into more sales and marketing activities, and it reflects how the business is moving more into a software sphere,” said Simon Gwatkin of the company’s investor relations, when contacted by OBJ.

Mr. Gwatkin did not release any local numbers or what sectors were affected, although a source told OBJ that at least one Ottawa engineering employee was downsized.

As of February 2010, after several rounds of layoffs, March employed 160 people in Ottawa, according to the latest edition of Ottawa Technology Magazine.

Also in February, March released its Q3 results and said the weak showing was due to poor “sales visibility”, particularly in the U.S. and Dubai, and added the company had not met investor earning expectations for the first nine months of its fiscal year.

At the time, the Ottawa-based company — which deals in digital surveillance — said it had revenues of $20 million for the quarter ended Jan. 31.

This was a decrease of 15.2 per cent from Q1 2008 and broadened the firm’s net loss from $3.52 million or 20 cents a share to $1.26 million or seven cents a share.

“In spite of the economic challenges and deferred capital spending within many of our vertical markets, the company has experienced year-to-date revenue growth in the commercial industrial market,” stated March Networks CEO Peter Strom at the time.

“We continue to invest in R&D and technologies that address the evolving needs of customers in our key vertical markets in order to support revenue growth.”

Q4 financials will be released at the end of trading day on Wednesday.

http://www.obj.ca/Technology/2010-06-08/article-1233109/Layoffs-at-March-Networks-slash-7%25-of-global-workforce/1

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BreconRidge to be acquired by Sanmina-SCI for $53M

Posted by sweens on April 29, 2010

Manufacturing giant Sanmina-SCI has agreed to buy Ottawa-based competitor BreconRidge Corp. for up to $53 million.

“This acquisition strengthens both our position and our customer base in radio-frequency/microwave and micro/opto-electronic technologies,” said Sanmina-SCI chief executive Jure Sola in a statement. “Upon completion of this transaction, Sanmina-SCI will be the leading electronics manufacturing services provider for these rapidly expanding leading-edge technologies.”

San Jose, Calif.-based Sanmina-SCI said in a release accompanying its second-quarter results that it has executed a definitive agreement to acquire BreconRidge, a nine-year-old, privately held contract manufacturing firm that started its life as a spinoff of Mitel Networks.

The deal, which is expected to close in the next 30 days, will see Sanmina-SCI paying up to $53 million, including equity and the assumption of certain liabilities.

The U.S. firm pointed out that BreconRidge’s current revenue run rate is about $45 million per quarter, and it said it expects to increase that figure over the next 12 months to between $250 million and $300 million per year.

Sanmina-SCI earned total revenues of $5.18 billion in its fiscal 2009 year, down from $7.2 billion a year earlier, although its full-year loss of $136.2 million or $1.65 per share was also narrower than its loss of $511.3 million or $5.78 per share a year earlier.

In its second-quarter earnings, it said revenues rose 27.8 per cent to $1.53 billion, and it managed to improve its bottom line to record profits of $10 million or 12 cents per share, from a loss of $38 million or 45 cents per share a year earlier.

Sanmina-SCI said it was particularly interested in the BreconRidge team’s expertise in advanced broadband technologies that offer speeds of more than 100 gigabits per second, and in wireless, radar and satellite applications.

The firm also highlighted BreconRidge’s manufacturing operations in Canada and China as a key factor for the acquisitions.

BreconRidge had 500 local employees at last count, according to the Ottawa Technology Magazine, while Sanmina-SCI had about 75 Ottawa workers.
Krystle Chow
Ottawa Business Journal

http://www.obj.ca/Technology/2010-04-27/article-1040584/BreconRidge-to-be-acquired-by-Sanmina-SCI-for-%2453M/1

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