Microsoft is backing a Bellevue startup – founded by a Microsoft veteran – that’s helping big companies deploy and run Microsoft’s Lync communications platform.
Unify Square is announcing today that it raised $8.2 million from Microsoft and angel investors, including former Yahoo, IBM and Ariba executives. It will use the funding to accelerate product development and partnerships with other vendors while expanding its global reach.
Unify Square is led by people who helped Microsoft get its start in unified communications. At the startup, they now build their own software-as-a-service products, such as Lync analytics and monitoring tools.
“This funding and especially the deepening partnership with Microsoft here allow us to take our formula – our products, our solutions, our services – to basically the entire, worldwide set of Lync customers,” said Sonu Aggarwal, Unify Square’s founder and chief executive.
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Zig Serafin, vice president of Skype Business Services at Microsoft, said in a release that Unify Square’s portfolio helps “large enterprises get the most out of Lync.”
“We look forward to their growth and new innovations for the Skype for Business platform,” Serafin said in the release.
Microsoft could afford to buy Unify Square outright but apparently it’s better – at this point at least – for the companies to keep some distance.
“We’re being pretty helpful serving as an independent voice looking out for customers’ best interests, even though many of us came from Microsoft,” Aggarwal said. “That independence has really led to a lot of market traction for customers around Lync.”
Aggarwal was a director and group program manager of Microsoft communications products before he started Unify Square in 2008. Earlier he co-founded a company called Flash Communications that Microsoft acquired in 1998.
Unify Square has 90 employees, including about 30 in Bellevue. The rest are in Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, India and the United Kingdom. With the new funding the headcount should double in Bellevue and overall, Aggarwal said.
The company has more than 150 customers, including Shell, Unilever, SAP, Deutsche Telekom and Microsoft.
It has no plans at this point to extend its products to other communication platfoms. Aggarwal said there is plenty of opportunity in its current niche.
“We see Lync really taking off in the enterprise,” he said. “In fact, most of the Fortune 500 are in some stage of Lync deployment so a couple of years from now we do see Lync being the deployed, installed communications technology of choice at most enterprises worldwide. It’s quite a journey to get there and get it to be successful.”