"I didn't want to walk away from my customers," Stacey Dupree said.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

March 24, 2022

3 Min Read

California-based telecommunications agency Meridian Network Services agreed to a deal with Upstack.

The 21-year-old technology advisory firm has joined the group of agencies purchased by private equity-fueled Upstack. Meridian founder and president Stacey Dupree is taking on the title of partner at Upstack.

Multiple firms reached out to Dupree about a sale or merger, she said. However, she added that she appreciated that Upstack would allow her to remain in the business. In addition, she said Upstack’s vision aligned with her emphasis on customer service.


Upstack’s Stacey Dupree

“I didn’t want to walk away from my customers; I wanted to offer them more in terms of resources and service that I just couldn’t build out on my own,” said Dupree. “Joining Upstack and having the resources of a skilled back-office and marketing department will bring enormous benefit to Meridian’s clients.

Meridian Background

Dupree founded Meridian Network Services in 2001 after a successful tenure on the carrier side of telecommunications. She started working at Cable and Wireless in 1985 and moved her way up from a district manager to a regional manager. After helping turn around the “flagging” regional group, she started a new job at Espire where she was director of CLECs. Then Dupree joined Paetec as vice president of sales. She departed Paetec after the dot-com bubble broke.

Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.

She launched Meridian, which offers a range of services, including procurement, implementation support, customer support, auditing and telecom expense management. Meridian won Mitel’s New Partner of the Year Award last year. It also won Calltower’s Elite 2020 Partner of the Year award.

“Our service, our skill at negotiating, and our industry knowledge set us apart; we know how to get things done for our clients, whether they are SMBs or enterprise,” Dupree said. “We have many long-tenured clients who look to our team as a seamless part of their own and value what we bring to the table. Joining Upstack allows me to serve my existing clients better, to grow the business in new ways, and to share best practices with leaders in the field.”

Private Equity and the Channel

A $50 million investment from Berkshire Partners and $100 million in financing from MidCap Financial and Morgan Stanley Private Credit have driven Upstack’s inorganic growth. More than 20 channel partners have signed letters of intent with the company. The company boasts a quoting and pricing platform and has also recently signed direct partnerships with a data center provider and cybersecurity provider.

Outside investment has poured into the agent channel over the last two years, touching both direct selling agencies and technology solutions brokerages. Most recently, Bridgepointe has been leveraging a $100-plus million private equity investment to give money to its subagents. In addition, Bluewave Technology Group raised $75 million from Columbia Capital and is courting agents as an alternative investment vehicle to Upstack.


Rad-Info’s Peter Radizeski

Upstack subagent Peter Radizeski estimates that more than $600 million in private money has entered the channel.

“So many factors are happening in the market that are making some partners want to do a deal. The technology changes, buyer behavior, the pandemic, age of partners, price decompression, specialization and more are all coming to a head for partners,” Radizeski told Channel Futures. “On the flip side, as a sub-agent of Upstack (through GCN), I worry about commissions from PE-backed companies because they only have two revenue streams: MDF and my commissioned sales. When the investors ask where the return is, it will be those revenue streams that they look to.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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