Stranded Zultys staff land on ShoreTel

Stranded Zultys staff land on ShoreTel

As one VOIP startup departs, another begins

Following the fire sale of IP telephony vendor Zultys to Pivot for $US2.65 million last month, the local operation has ceased with key staff now launching the US-based ShoreTel PABX vendor locally.

Former Zultys business development director for the Oceania region Tony Warhurst told Computerworld he resigned just over three weeks ago because of uncertainty.

"This came as a shock to me," Warhust said about the Zultys sale. "I was aware it was requesting more funding but when that didn't come through there was no money left."

Warhust said the uncertainty surrounding Zultys' future had "dragged on" for about three months and the decision kept being postponed.

Founded by entrepreneur Iain Milnes in 2001 with about $US65 million in venture funding, Zultys carved out a new market in 'out of the box' VOIP systems and handsets challenging more established vendors like Cisco, Nortel, and NEC.

The company also had its fair share of success locally, with enterprises including Isuzu, Cambridge, 4Logic, and Victoria's Health Services Union jumping on board.

The Linux-based Zultys IP-PBX systems value proposition was an integrated hardware-software system that removed the complexity associated with installing and managing disparate telephony components.

Looking back, Warhust said the demise of Zultys here came as such a shock to staff and resellers because "we were growing at a phenomenal rate and looking at a $4 million quarter last quarter".

At this point there is no Pivot office here but only resellers, to whom Warhust recommends "just hang in there and wait for Pivot but if you're unsure, contact me".

Warhust is now South East Asian director at ShoreTel, a company that began in 1996 and claims to be the fastest growing PABX vendor in the US and has now decided to expand internationally.

Last month ShoreTel employed three people to establish a sales post here in Sydney, including Martin Trigg, also from Zultys.

ShoreTel PBX switches are based on VxWorks and rely on solid state storage, not hard disks.

"ShoreTel is not as strong in SIP as Zultys, but that is changing quickly," he said. "The PBX has great features and benefits and it scales from SME to enterprise. Our largest customer has 12,000 users and there are about a dozen systems already installed in Australia."

Warhust said the company will hire "as aggressively as the growth requires it" and is looking to take an office that will accommodate support and training for customers and resellers so is "very serious about coming into this market".

ShoreTel is privately funded, cash flow positive, and has zero debt, he said.

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