Top 12 Stories in December: Windstream, Fusion Bankruptcies, CenturyLink Channel Leaders



If 2019 was the year of the bankruptcy in the channel, 2020 might be the year of bouncing back — with potentially a big impact on Windstream and Fusion Connect partners.

Stories on each company pursuing an exit from chapter 11 cracked our top-stories countdown for December.

A couple of articles on new hires and promotions in the channel – always a popular topic – can be found here as well. Forcepoint and CenturyLink were the recipients of the new staffers.

M&A activity tends to be a regular in our countdown as well; this time, it was AppSmart buying CNSG.

Which was No. 1?

Our top 12, outlined in the gallery below, feature the stories that got the most eyeballs from both the web as a whole and our weekly newsletters. I hope you’ve signed up for that already.

Missed the previous month’s top stories? Click here to see our most-read posts in November.

Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

RealCom Solutions' Bill Hooper
#12 — Avaya-RingCentral Deal

In one of the biggest stories of 2019, the mega-deal between RingCentral and Avaya continues to make waves as we start a new year.

Published in October, we told you how Avaya ended speculation about being acquired, instead entering a strategic partnership with RingCentral. Under the agreement, RingCentral contributes $500 million to the deal and will be Avaya’s exclusive provider of UCaaS solutions.

The new Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral expands Avaya’s portfolio to offer a full suite of unified communications, contact center, UCaaS and CCaaS solutions to a global customer base.
Avaya's Jon Brinton
#11 — CenturyLink Class Action Lawsuit

Every once in a while, almost inexplicably, a story from the Channel Partners archives pops up in our countdown with heavy traffic in a given month. This time, it was a lawsuit alleging unlawful billing practices by CenturyLink, where those in the class action were seeking as much as $12 billion. The story published in June 2017.

The suit started in Arizona, where an employee said she was fired from her job as a customer service agent after notifying CEO Glen Post of the alleged scheme, saying that CenturyLink “allowed persons who had a personal incentive to add services or lines to customer accounts to falsely indicate on the CenturyLink system the approval by a customer of new lines or services."

Read the full story.
Avaya's Jon Brinton
#10 — Frontier Names New CEO as Debt Questions Loom

Frontier Communications appointed a new CEO, Bernie Han, formerly of Dish Network, as its new CEO to help it through a financial crisis.

Frontier is working with creditors to decide how to handle its $17.5 billion debt load. Will the communications giant be the latest company doing business in the channel to file for bankruptcy? Or will it find a way to reduce its debt organically?

Learn more about what the future might hold.
Malwarebytes' Akshay Bhargava
#9 — HP Expands Financing with Multivendor Model

In a move that will offer partners and customers expanded options for financing and leasing solutions, HP Integrated Financial Solutions formed a partnership with HPE Financial Services and global finance company DLL Group.

HP integrated Financial Solutions formed last March,  part of the company’s strategy to provide partners with more flexibility to fuel their services-based business and drive recurring revenue.

Get the full scoop on the agreement.
Datapipe's Robb Allen
#8 — Channel People on the Move

Our monthly recap of people taking new jobs or getting promoted in the channel was hot in December, as usual. This edition featured moves at Windstream, Nextiva, Broadvoice and more.
Broadvoice's Kathleen Annitto
#7 — AppSmart Buys CNSG

What a year it was for AppSmart, the AppDirect brand formed by the combination of WTG and NeoCloud.

This story about the company buying master agent CNSG was red-hot in December, much like a story announcing its acquisition of Telegration caught your attention a few months prior. Don't be surprised to see more wheeling and dealing from AppSmart in the new year.
#6 — New CenturyLink Channel Leaders

CenturyLink promoted Matt Thompson to sales director, leading channel managers in the Southwest. The company also added four new hires who will work directly with master agents CNSG, PlanetOne, TBI and Sandler Partners.

Find out who they are and where they worked previously.
#5 — Fusion Bankruptcy Exit Pending

The end of Fusion Connect's seven-month-long bankruptcy saga might be coming to an end. A court in December approved the company's proposed restructuring plan, with an exit expected anytime now.

Fusion company filed chapter 11 in June after its acquisitions of MegaPath and Birch Communications’ cloud and business-services business failed to meet performance projections. In October, Fusion said it wants to continue doing business with all of its partners and offered them new agreements. The company’s lenders will own the business when it emerges from bankruptcy.

Keep up to date with the last-minute details.
Give back
#4 — Cloud News Roundup

Apparently you needed to catch up on the latest news from the big cloud providers over the holidays.

This story got you up to speed on performance comparisons among the big three, a new transfer service from Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure's new blockchain service features.
BullsEye's Tom Tisco
#3 — SD-WAN Roundup Featuring Rankings

SD-WAN is red hot, and you always love rankings, so it's not surprising that James Anderson's latest SD-WAN roundup featuring industry leaders – per researchers at Gartner – generated a lot of interest.

We also featured some comments from Aviatrix's CEO who actually expects SD-WAN to lose traction soon. Sacre bleu!
Channel Chief Panel at CPinsights, 2019
#2 — Forcepoint Hires Oracle Vet

Here's another "people on the move" story that caught fire in December — security provider Forcepoint hiring Oracle vet Lisa Schreiber as its first chief customer success officer.

Schreiber is tasked with managing Forcepoint’s customer capabilities, overall customer experience from acquisition to retention, and growth of the global portfolio. Forcepoint works with thousands of enterprise and government customers in more than 150 countries.

Learn more about Schreiber and Forcepoint here.
Channel Chief Panel at CPinsights, 2019
#1 — Windstream Bankruptcy Exit/New Channel Chief

A trio of Windstream stories, in aggregate, combine as No. 1 for December.

The most-read was this one on the company asking for more time – a lot more, perhaps stretching into Fall 2020 – before exiting chapter 11 bankruptcy. Keep in mind that the business communications behemoth filed chapter 11 way back in February 2019 after losing a $310 million judgment to creditors being sued by a capital management firm over its decision to spin off copper wire and fiber cable business into a real estate investment trust.

Then came a court ruling saying Windstream would have to file its reorganization plan by April.

And finally, Edward Gately's profile of Matt Milliron, Windstream's new channel chief, that we published the last week of November.

"The timeline for emerging from restructuring is still speculative, but what I can share is that the organization is executing on our operational priorities and continually working to provide our partners and customers the care and support they deserve," Milliron told us.

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