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Vonage CEO Read is out, Ericsson’s head of North America is in

Vonage’s CEO Rory Read will leave Ericsson by the end of the quarter, and Head of Market Area North America Niklas Heuveldop will take over, after overseeing its recent $14 billion deal with AT&T.

Andrew Wooden

January 25, 2024

4 Min Read

Heuveldop, who has ran the kit vendor’s North American unit since 2017, will take up the new role almost immediately on 1 February. The announcement goes out of its way to emphasise his role in the recent whopping $14 billion Open RAN deal with AT&T, presumably as a way of saying what a safe pair of hands he is.

Read, who presided over Vonage during its $6.2 billion acquisition by Ericsson, ‘has decided to step down from his positions’ which will also happen on 1 February. He will become advisor to the Business Area, before leaving the firm by the end of Q1.

"It has been a true honour to lead this talented Vonage team on this journey - first around the power of the Vonage Communications Platform and then into the world of 5G with Ericsson”, he said. “There is no question Ericsson is shaping the industry landscape by leveraging the full value of 5G and by creating the world’s most powerful innovation platform. Through this platform, Ericsson will be able to monetize 5G in completely new ways by exposing advanced network capabilities to the global developer community. The Company has come a long way towards realizing this strategy and I look forward to following Ericsson and handing over the reins to Niklas’ capable hands.”

Yossi Cohen, currently Head of Strategy, Technology, Marketing and Business Development within Market Area North America, will replace Heuveldop as Head of Market Area North America. He has a 22-year tenure at Ericsson in various roles.  

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson said of the management shakeup: “I’m very pleased that Niklas has accepted to lead Business Area Global Communications Platform at this pivotal time. The Vonage acquisition and our investments in the global network platform are foundational to our long-term strategy execution, driving growth in both the enterprise segment, but also reinforcing our network infrastructure business,” and continues:

“Niklas has proven himself in multiple roles on the executive team. Under his leadership we have significantly strengthened our position in North America, expanding our market share with all leading customers in the region and the industry-defining USD 14 billion deal with AT&T, creates a solid foundation for our business in the market for years to come. He is also an important driver of our ongoing organizational transformation, driving ethics, compliance and operational excellence.”

New boss Heuveldop said: “I am thrilled but also humbled to be offered the opportunity to ensure that we leverage Vonage’s capabilities and the 5G innovation platform to their full potential – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I move on knowing that we have the best talent in the industry to serve our customers and Yossi will continue to strengthen our local capabilities.”

The purchase of Vonage in 2022 was Ericsson’s strategic move to get its arms around APIs, which many in the industry have heralded as an avenue to generate more revenue from 5G.

Ericsson is a big company, but $6.2 billion is a big chunk of change in anyone’s piggy bank, and it was of course going to need to start seeing a return.

However in October that investment was given a $3 billion write-down, essentially meaning the value of the Vonage unit was halved. At the time, it said it expected the first revenues from network APIs during 2023.

It’s now 2024, and while new broom Heuveldop can be forgiven for not ploughing right in with an announcement of all the tactical changes that might be on the cards at this early stage in his tenure, presumably some sort of change is what Ericsson wants to see. But it’s hard to know exactly what goes on behind corporate doors, or precisely what Ericsson wants out of Vonage going forward, other than to generate more money obviously.

Part of the problem might be the proposition of APIs as an elixir for 5G revenues in general. Having been one of the prominent themes at last year’s MWC, certainly there seems to be a coherent argument out there that opening up the networks and allowing developers to do some clever things might create new types of service or experience – but a year on, it all remains a bit fuzzy on the details.  

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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