An enthusiastic Jeff Miller, president and CEO of Bridgewater-based Synchronoss Technologies, spoke to NJTechWeekly.com recently about the company, and how it is orchestrating its turnaround.
Miller joined the firm over two-and-a-half years ago, brought in by his predecessor, Glenn Lurie. After serving in an interim capacity, he became the company’s permanent president and CEO in 2021.
Founded in 2000, Synchronoss faced the same problems that many growing companies do. It began as a startup that sold wireless communications companies like AT&T and Verizon a way to activate, connect and manage devices from the phone and the cloud. Unfortunately, Synchronoss’s business didn’t mature as the mobile industry matured. However, after a period of uncertainty, Miller is now sure that the company is on a sound path that will lead to growth.
The company recently undertook a comprehensive refinancing effort that involved two public offerings and a private placement, and which resulted in net proceeds of approximately $300 million. On June 30, it used the net proceeds in part to fully redeem all outstanding shares of its Series A Convertible Participating Perpetual Preferred Stock owned by an affiliate of Siris Capital Group (New York) and to repay amounts outstanding under the company’s revolving credit facility, with Citizens Bank.
“Financial restatements and so forth are all in our rearview mirror! We are now turning the page on a new chapter of the company. We are putting ourselves in a position where we have the financial strength to control our own destiny long into the future, and to serve our customers that rely on us every day.Jeff Miller, Synchronoss
“Financial restatements and so forth are all in our rearview mirror!” Miller told NJTechWeekly.com. “We are now turning the page on a new chapter of the company. We are putting ourselves in a position where we have the financial strength to control our own destiny long into the future, and to serve our customers that rely on us every day.
Narrowing the Focus
“I’ve had the opportunity, both on an interim basis and now on a more permanent basis as the CEO, to make changes. We really have tried to narrow our focus, and make sure that we stick to our key priorities. And, so far, we feel like things are going quite well, and that we’re on a good path. The business continues to persevere through COVID-19.”
Miller told us that the company has a rare asset: the trusted relationships that it has built with some of the largest communications companies in the world. “And we are doing so in critical functions that they rely 100 percent on us to deliver. And not only do they rely on us, they trust us so much that they put their name on our white label messaging and cloud solutions, and we intend to try to leverage that” for the future.
“I believe that we’ve taken some strides in the past where we got ourselves possibly spread too thin for a company of our size, and my focus has been more on narrowing the business to our highest opportunities for growth and the best chances for market opportunity and profitability.”
Doubling Down on Cloud and R&D
Synchronoss is doubling down in its cloud business, he said. “It’s a great business that just about a year and a half ago had five customers globally. We’ve more than doubled the number of customers that are now utilizing our cloud service on a white label basis, and we are enhancing that experience in a lot of ways.
“We are making priority decisions to invest in R&D to enhance the consumer experience for the subscriber, providing them new user experiences, adding in new capabilities — for example, the simplicity of tagging and searching for photos and other files — and just making that a better experience.” That makes Synchronoss a meaningful profit center for telecom companies, he noted, when “applied properly with the right business model and the right marketing to subscribers.”
The company is also leveraging its existing messaging business, including its core email offering, which is growing even though the concept is mature in the marketplace. Miller noted that Synchronoss had announced a new relationship with Altice USA (Queens, N.Y.) in the first quarter, and that it’s expanding its email and messaging relationships with dozens of global clients. He also mentioned that Synchronoss currently runs over 250 million global mailboxes; and, as SMS (Short Message Service) gives way to RCS (Rich Communication Services), which is a chat-type messaging service that includes rich features like file sharing, content sharing and even video calling through chat, Synchronoss plans to address that market.
NJTechWeekly.com asked Miller if Synchronoss was making any moves outside of the communications sector. He said, “We’re doing it selectively in what we think are adjacencies that makes sense.” One example is the insurance sector. “We use our cloud service to augment insurance offerings for companies like Allstate Protection Plans,” a major provider of device insurance for these very precious mobile devices that we all spend money on. We complement those hardware protections with digital protection, utilizing our cloud service offering. We believe that there’s a continued growth potential in that insurance market vertical.” Synchronoss uses the same white label approach that “leverages the infrastructure that we already have in place.”
He added that this contrasts with some previous moves the company had made: for example, an “adventure” in providing cloud services for smart buildings as part of an internet-of-things solutions set. “Candidly, it didn’t have the amount of synergy [needed] with the rest of our portfolio or customer set, or even engineering and innovation expertise. So, we have made decisions consciously over the course of the last couple of quarters to jettison that business and focus really on the core product lines.”
What’s on the Horizon?
So what’s next for Synchronoss?
“The best way for the company to continue to grow is to see additional adoption by our customers’ subscribers of the services we have available.” He noted that there is a lot of runway on AT&T and Verizon for every customer to adopt cloud services. The way to do that is to build compelling experiences for the consumer, so that every subscriber will want to use them.
For example, he said, Synchronoss has enabled an unlimited cloud experience for Verizon customers, all white labeled under Verizon Cloud. As 5G comes into the marketplace, people will be capturing more and more content, and they will want to access that content in a more creative or faster way. Miller explained that “5G is going to enable zero latency and the ability to get access to that content, and will only invite greater growth in the cloud environment. So, we’re excited about 5G because we have an opportunity for that to be a catalyst for our ongoing growth.”
In addition, the company will be looking at new ways to use its existing cloud infrastructure. For example, Telkomsigma (Tangerang, Indonesia) has white-labeled Synchronoss’s cloud to enable students from more than 25 universities to capture their documents and share them with professors across the university ecosystem, Miller said.
He told us that the company began bringing its people back to work at headquarters on a gradual basis in June. “In the Jersey office, in particular, we opened on the 21st of June at about 25 percent capacity.” Synchronoss has about 275 people working in New Jersey, out of a total workforce of around 1,500 people.
Miller added that, while collaboration software has helped the company remain effective during COVID, “it’s a compromise in relation to collaborating with people directly in a conference room to debate and to plan and to develop new opportunities and innovation. … I think that this is going to be an opportunity to rekindle the relationships across the business, and to become even that much more effective.”
As we concluded our interview, NJTechWeekly.com asked Miller if the company was hiring, and the answer was that the company is constantly hiring, not just in the U.S., but globally. Here in New Jersey, Synchronoss is looking for people with iOS, Android and cybersecurity expertise. It’s are also looking for project managers and people with “go-to-market” capabilities.