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Ukrainian-born entrepreneur Vlad Shmunis is now a billionaire, thanks to a recent deal inked by RingCentral, his cloud-based communications company. RingCentral, based in Belmont, California, provides phone, messaging, video conferencing and other collaboration services for businesses.
On October 3, RingCentral announced it would partner with Avaya, a telecommunications equipment provider, on a new cloud platform. RingCentral will pay $500 million to Avaya, including an advance of $375 million—mostly in RingCentral stock—for future payments and licensing rights as well as a $125 million investment of preferred equity for a 6% stake in Avaya.
Wall Street embraced the deal, which gives RingCentral access to Avaya’s 100 million users—compared with RingCentral’s 2 million—and helps Avaya pay down its considerable debt. The price of shares of Avaya and RingCentral increased by 30.7% and 28%, respectively, in the wake of the announcement. While Avaya’s stock peaked on October 9, RingCentral is still riding high. Its share price closed at $170.17 today, up 40.3% since the announcement. RingCentral’s market cap stands at $14.1 billion.
Shmunis, who serves as CEO, is now worth $1.3 billion by Forbes’ estimate, with an 8.5% stake of RingCentral plus options. His cofounder and CTO Vlad Vendrow owns approximately $600 million worth of stock, according to the company’s latest proxy. (RingCentral declined to comment for this article.)
Shmunis and his family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a master’s degree in computer science, he took an engineering job at a Silicon Valley startup. “I fairly quickly figured out that as far as a software developer I was okay,” Shmunis told a Forbes contributor in 2017. “But I was pretty good at understanding what customers wanted and what engineers could feasibly deliver and moved into the technical management ranks fairly early in life.”
Before launching RingCentral, Shmunis founded Ring Zero Systems, an enterprise communications software company, in 1992. Ring Zero was acquired by Motorola in 1998 for an undisclosed sum. Shmunis launched RingCentral in 1999 with Vendrow, who was previously an engineer at RingZero and Motorola. They took the RingCentral public in 2013.