April 13, 2023
The deal brings Signal, registered as Ryse Communications, into a private equity-backed organization that founder and CEO Rob Wuest said will allow him to focus on core activities while scaling. Wuest, who founded Signal in 2000, will stay on board at Upstack, accepting the title of partner.
“By partnering with Upstack, I can offload the day-to-day of running a business, so I can spend more time advising business customers,” said Wuest. “I also can offer customers access to top-notch support and specialists across a range of solutions, so they can leverage the latest technologies to be more competitive.”
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Signal lists its technology specialties as cloud, internet, communications network and cybersecurity. Its customers tend to include small and midmarket businesses. The company on its website numbers its total amount of clients at 500.
The parties did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.
Signal’s Rob Wuest
The transaction reportedly marks the 28th advisory firm purchase for Upstack. Upstack for the last two years and a half has been acquiring technology advisors – historically known as telecom agents – who source cloud and carrier services for business customers and earn residual commissions from suppliers. The business model has received a considerable amount of attention from investors in the last two years. Those investors value both the agent’s close relationships with customers as well as their recurring revenue streams.
Signal Technology Group
Wuest, like many leaders in the technology advisor channel, formed his own agency after a career at a carrier. His prior employers included AT&T, Verizon and Nortel Networks. Nortel’s stock reached its highest market cap in 2000 before plummeting amid the dotcom bubble collapse. Wuest accepted a six-month severance and started brokering local phone services on his own.
“I decided to give it six months;it’s been 23 years. As the trusted advisor, we make recommendations that benefit our clients’ businesses, so they get the solutions they need at a fair price,” Wuest said.
Wuest had explored potential suitors to invest in Signal. He added that he chose to join with Upstack over other investors because he wanted to stay in business.
Upstack’s Christopher Trapp
“Rob Wuest built Signal Technology Group over more than 20 years by giving customers access to technology services on their terms,” Upstack founder and CEO Christopher Trapp said. “Customer advocacy is a value that we share. I could not be more pleased to welcome Rob to the Upstack team.”
Upstack burst onto the agent channel scene in 2021 with a stated vision of creating the “best direct sales agency” in the industry. Trapp at the time described Berkshire Partners’ $50 million investment in the company the largest a customer-facing agent has ever received.
Two members of an agency Upstack acquired recently detailed how the company’s integration is going. They also shared why they believe what people in the industry call “superagents” are the future of technology procurement.
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