'We had grander visions on how all of this would work out': Zonoff CEO Mike Harris - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 24, 2017 12:42 pm

‘We had grander visions on how all of this would work out’: Zonoff CEO Mike Harris

Last week, we told you that a West Coast company called Ring had acquired most of Zonoff's staff. We got on the phone with Harris to hear his take.

Mike Harris speaks at Startup Grind, December 2013.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

When he caught wind that an acquisition deal with Honeywell fell through, Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff dropped everything and hopped on a red-eye from California to Philly with one target in mind: hiring the staff at beleaguered internet-of-things company Zonoff.

Twenty-four hours and a steak dinner at Del Frisco’s later, Siminoff had made an offer to the team and brought some 70 staffers from the Malvern firm aboard his Santa Monica, Calif. company, forming a Philly-based division to be called Ring Solutions.

“It was one of those things where everything happened very quickly,” former Zonoff CEO and newly anointed Ring Solutions President Mike Harris told Technical.ly.

Harris declined to confirm — or deny — the press reports of a Honeywell acquisition deal gone south. He did, however offer some insight into the negotiation process with Ring.

The exec said it was the company’s long-standing working relationship with Zonoff which enabled the swift deal: Zonoff software platform had integrations with Ring’s product line.

“We’ve known Jamie a long time, we’ve worked together for five or six years and bumped into him at the trade shows. We had a bunch of different options but Ring was the most attractive choice to keep everybody together. It’s a great team with great respect in the IoT space.”

Ring has an interesting tie with Philly by way of University City-based First Round Capital, which was an early investor and later joined that massive $61.2 million Series C round raised in March 2016. You can even catch Siminoff sporting a Bruno Mars look in the firm’s 2015 Holiday Video.

First Round’s Managing Partner Josh Kopelman joyfully shared our first article on the news from Zonoff:

To which Siminoff replied:

(When asked if FRC had a hand in the deal, Kopelman replied with a one-word email: “Nope.”)

And so with Zonoff having reached a notable position in the IoT space, following that a massive raise by Philly tech standards, a sprawling two-story office and partnerships with companies like Staples, was this exit all that the founders expected?

“I think everybody had grander visions on how all of this would work out,” said Harris. “From a customer perspective we were doing very well and had tons of new interest. Some decisions changed very dramatically and put us in a position of not going in the same direction. But myself, the team would be very comfortable going back and doing things again the same way. Some situations are just outside our control.”

You might expect this kind of zen response from a seasoned entrepreneur: Harris sold his last business, AnySource Media, to DivX for a reported $7.5 million in 2009, and he’s led a number of companies, including Ravisent Technologies, which sold to STMicroelectronics in 2001.

Though there’s been no official decision on where the new company will be, Ring Solutions is aiming to be located in the “same general area” in order to accommodate the staff. As we’ve noted before, the 202 corridor has long been a hub of Philly-area tech companies.

In the mean time, as Ring Solutions gets settled in the suburbs, look out for Harris to remain in the area.

“I have no plans to go anywhere,” said Harris. “I love building teams. In this case we’ve got a great opportunity to continue creating great products at Ring and I’m super excited about that opportunity. My only thought is making the team as successful as we can.”

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