Things were beginning to look grim last year for Fuze, a struggling Zoom Video Communications wannabe. It was running low on cash and facing potentially suffocating loan payments, according to documents viewed by The Information. The company began actively shopping itself to potential acquirers.
Inside Fuze, though, the CEO at the time, Brian Day, painted a much rosier picture of the future. In all-hands meetings throughout last year, he repeatedly told employees the company was nearly profitable, five current and former employees who heard the comments said. And in July, Fuze even dangled a carrot to keep employees from leaving the company by dramatically lowering the exercise price on their older stock options, according to an internal memo sent to employees.
But in December, many of those employees were stunned when they learned their equity grants would be nearly worthless as a result of the acquisition of Fuze by a rival, 8x8. The $250 million price of that deal was a mere fraction of Fuze’s former value. What stung even more: Fuze executives would get generous stock awards from the acquiring company, 8x8, for closing the deal. Day, who received stock worth $3.5 million, got the biggest award of them all, according to a document Fuze sent to its shareholders and employees in late 2021.