In Surprise Move, Vlad Shmunis Returns As RingCentral CEO

After stepping down four months ago, Vlad Shmunis once more heads the company he founded and led through its IPO.

Moshe Beauford, Contributing Editor

December 11, 2023

3 Min Read

After four months at the helm, Tarek Robbiati is out as RingCentral CEO. In an even more surprising turn of events, founder, former CEO, and executive board chairman Vlad Shmunis is at it again as the unified communications firm's leader. 

"Tarek Robbiati and RingCentral mutually agreed that Robbiati would separate from the company and resign from the board of directors, effective December 8, 2023," RingCentral said in a prepared statement, noting the move was not a result of what it called "any disagreement with the company or the board, or any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies, or practices."

A Brief Tenure as RingCentral CEO

It was only August when the firm announced its founder and then RingCentral CEO would step down to lead the company's strategic product and innovation efforts, a move many saw as conflicting if you consider how Shmunis built the firm from the ground up.

Today, the company boasts some 15,000 channel partners and has over 400,000 customers. 

RingCentral's Vlad Shmunis

With the firm's original leader at the top once more as RingCentral CEO, he hopes to accelerate the massive growth he and his team have already fostered. Today, RingCentral has some $2.2 billion in revenue.

"I don’t think Vlad ever really stepped down as CEO," Keith Dennis, chief of staff, Six 8 Trusted Advisors, told Channel Futures. "After David Sipes departed as chief operating officer, no one has been at the helm for long, including Phil Sorgen, who came from Microsoft and was also a short-lived executive," he said. 

With former Hewlett Packard and T-Mobile executive Robbiati having served such a brief tenure as RingCentral CEO, Dennis said, "my assumption is Vlad calls the shots, and it frustrates leadership that they can't implement their strategy and corporate policies, so they agree to disagree and move on." 

From his perspective, Dennis shared that he acknowledges that RingCentral's biggest challenge is the amount of debt it carries in a high-interest rate environment. The firm has some $1.8 billion in debt.

"RingCentral is facing stiff competition from Microsoft Teams, which is gaining market share quickly and is closely integrated with other Microsoft products. Between 9% and 12% of RingCentral customers cancel their services each year. Although RingCentral's revenue continues to grow, its profitability has recently declined," Anurag Agrawal, founder and chief global analyst at Techaisle, told us.

He added this is partly due to increased spending on research and development as the company invests in new technologies. "RingCentral needs to differentiate itself and demonstrate its value proposition to stay competitive," said Agrawal.

RingCentral Board Must Have Confidence in Shmunis

Few founders sit at the top of their companies anymore, with Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates being prime examples of that. OpenAI's CEO even got pushed out by its board and then reinstated after much backlash from the firm's employees, who threatened to resign in mass if he did not get his position back. 

Shmunis, in a sense, is an anomaly, as it appears that the board yearned for his input as RingCentral CEO and allowed him to take over once more. 

Ten years after the firm's initial public offering (IPO), it is in a position many UCC companies can only dream of, largely thanks to the work Shmunis and other executives have done to land it accolades like being named a leader on Gartner's UCaaS Magic Quadrant for 2023 and in previous years. 

"Vlad did a great job building the customer base before leaving," Skip Picciano, chief technology officer at Effortless CXConsultants recounted. Now, he says, with his return as RingCentral CEO, Shmunis has the opportunity "to develop the customer service team and partner channel strategy," Picciano said.

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About the Author(s)

Moshe Beauford

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Moshe has nearly a decade of expertise reporting on enterprise technology. Within that world, he covers breaking news, artificial intelligence, contact center, unified communications, collaboration, cloud adoption (digital transformation), user/customer experience, hardware/software, etc.

As a contributing editor at Channel Futures, Moshe covers unified communications/collaboration from a channel angle. He formerly served as senior editor at GetVoIP News and as a tech reporter at UC/CX Today.

Moshe also has contributed to Unleash, Workspace-Connect, Paste Magazine, Claims Magazine, Property Casualty 360, the Independent, Gizmodo UK, and ‘CBD Intel.’ In addition to reporting, he spends time DJing electronic music and playing the violin. He resides in Mexico.

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