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Top 12 Stories in December: Verizon Cuts, Windstream Sale, WTG Merger

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2018 went out with a bang — and we’re not talking about fireworks from New Year’s Eve.

Three months after confirming a workforce reduction, Verizon said that number would be more than 10,000 in a voluntary separation resulting from a realignment that focuses on “the new era of 5G.” Windstream offloaded fiber assets in the Great Plains, and AppDirect announced the purchase of master-agent WTG in what the companies dubbed a first-of-its-kind transaction.

But those were only a few of the stories that cracked our list of most-read from December.

Vonage announced another new hire to beef up its channel and you helped reprise our list of 20 top SD-WAN providers.

Our most-read stories of each month are determined by you, our loyal Channel Partners readers. They are also determined by results from our weekly newsletter (sign up for that here).

Which story was No. 1? Click through our gallery below to find out!

Missed the previous month’s top stories? Click here to see our most-read posts in November. And here’s where to find our countdown of the top 15 stories of 2018.

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

Datapipe's Robb Allen
#12 — Top Stories of 2018

No, you haven't entered some sort of top-stories time warp. Our recap of the 15 most-read stories of 2018 lands at No. 12 on our recap of the most-read stories from December. Confused yet?

Among the most frequently perused Channel Partners pages last year were a new CenturyLink channel chief, the naming of our Channel Influencer of the Year, and layoffs that plagued the industry — often issued by companies that are well into the black.

Which story was No. 1? Here's where to find out.
Big Technology, Global Communication
#11 — Windstream Offloads Fiber Assets

If Windstream does it, you're usually interested.

In this case, it was only a regional sale, but the communications giant did offload fiber assets in Minnesota and Nebraska to a Minnesota-based company for $60 million. The deal is expected to close sometime this quarter.

As part of the agreement, Windstream establishes a fiber-network relationship with Arvig Enterprises, the buyer, allowing it to use the assets to continue selling its products and services in those states.

Learn more about the transaction.
TBI's Peter Plesh gallery
#10 — 7 Things That Drive Masters and Agents Crazy

You were interested to learn what some channel insiders had to say about the failings of vendors and master agents that potentially slow the flow of business for partners.

We polled Cyxtera channel chief Tina Gravel, Telarus co-founder Patrick Oborn and CloudTech1 president Rick Beckers, who all had plenty to say on the topic.

No doubt you've experienced some of these.
Armis' Joe Lea
#9 — CPaaS Sellers' Guide: The Value-Add in Real-Time Communications

Communications platform as a service (CPaaS), can expand the range of capabilities of enterprise customer communications and push the service-provider industry into new and exciting areas. So said Michael Finneran in his special report on the topic (sponsored by IntelePeer) for Channel Partners.

The report will educate you on how CPaaS can pay big benefits for the channel partner, how partners can put a plan in place to capitalize on CPaaS, and more.

Judging by its ranking on our countdown, many of your peers already have read it.
Rubrik;s Arvind Nithrakashyap
#8 — Symantec President Out in Leadership Shake-up

Symantec's chief operating officer surprised many when he resigned last month. Michael Fey came on board two years ago when the cybersecurity giant bought Blue Coat.

The company is embroiled in a shareholder lawsuit that alleges it manipulated quarterly financial results, prompting big payouts for top executives, with the resulting investigation and fallout causing investors to lose money.

Symantec had no formal  comment on Fey's departure. Learn more about the issues facing Symantec.
TBI's Peter Plesh gallery
#7 — 20 Top SD-WAN Providers

As we emerge from the holiday season, it's the story that keeps on giving.

Buoyed in part by its position on our ranking of the top 15 stories of 2018, our list of 20 top SD-WAN providers, which recognizes perhaps the channel's hottest technology, once again landed in our monthly top 12.

Published way back in March, it was the second in our "20 top" series — and the most successful.
Plesh, Peter_TBI
#6 — Hot Certifications for the Channel

Also getting a resurgence thanks to our recap of the biggest stories of the year was this post on 29 hot certifications to spice up your business in 2018. That's right, 2018.

Published the day after Christmas, 2017, we broke down more than two-dozen certifications – from both big-name and lesser-known companies, as well as industry associations – many of which no doubt will still provide value in 2019.

Read about them here.
Citrix's Steve Blacklock
#5 — Vonage Adds Second Windstream Alum

Vonage barreled into 2019 with its second Windstream hire of the final quarter of the year, part of what it calls another "aggressive" step to dive deeper into the channel.

This time it's Greg Franzen, Vonage's new director of strategic partners for North America. He will focus on "strategic alignment and execution in the field," bolstering partners' success in the eastern U.S.

The news came just a month after Vonage added Mario DeRiggi to beef up its "transactional channel."
High web traffic
#4 — Thoma Bravo Might Buy McAfee

Sometimes more of you read the stories about acquisition rumors than when the purchases actually happen. Case in point is the swirling discussion about Intel and TPG Capital considering the sale of McAfee to private-equity firm Thoma Bravo, which has a successful history of tech-business purchases.

Intel paid $7.7 billion for McAfee in 2011 and in 2017 sold 51 percent of the business to TPG.

Reuters was first to report the potential deal. None of the parties involved would comment on our story.
High web traffic
#3 — Channel People on the Move

It should come as no surprise that our monthly recap of new hires and promotions in the channel lands in our monthly countdown; it has just about every month since we started doing it almost eight years ago.

This edition featured moves at Telarus, Vonage, Avaya and more. Be sure to get caught up on which of your friends, colleagues and rivals took new positions.
Sungard Santa Cartoon Dec. 2018
#2 — Verizon Cutting Workforce

In September, Verizon confirmed it would offer a voluntary separation package to eligible management employees based in the U.S. But it wasn't until December that we learned the carrier would shed more than 10,000 workers by mid-2019 as a result.

The workforce reduction comes as the company realigns its structure to "optimize growth opportunities in the 5G era."

"This is a moment in time, given our financial and operational strength, to begin to better serve customers with more agility, speed and flexibility," said Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.

Learn about the severance package the employees are getting.
Pax8's Nick Heddy
#1 — AppDirect Buying WTG

In a deal that WTG called a first of its kind, the master agent said it would merge with NeoCloud, a North Carolina-based cloud service provider. This comes as AppDirect, the cloud commerce company, buys both businesses and creates a new unit called AppSmart.

“In order to transform and be successful in the long term, master agents in the field truly need to partner with technology companies to do more,” WTG CEO Vince Bradley said at the master's holiday event in Palm Springs. “Because with cloud proliferation, with IoT, there is … a need for a lot more resources and technical assistance in the channel.”

Bradley told Channel Partners that other master agents and distributors approached him about merging with WTG, but he turned them down, citing a more strategic transaction — and partnering with a SaaS company fit the bill.

Get the full scoop on the strategy behind WTG's move.

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