The typical business phone is capable of doing a lot, but most of us only know how to make and answer calls, and maybe access our voicemail.
Jive Communications in Orem can’t necessarily solve that problem, but it will solve a lot of the headaches in getting the phone system set up. Jive is a different way of setting up a unified communications system — one that was not even possible 20 years ago.
Business phone systems typically require a lot of cables, wires, storage space. Jive is a cloud-based telephony system, allowing businesses to access all of their communication needs in office and on the go. It’s inaccurate to describe them simply as a voice-over-internet protocol company, because as co-founder Michael Sharp describes it, “we’re more like VOIP on steroids.”
Jive celebrated its 10th year in business last year, going from six co-founders with a unique idea to a worldwide company employing roughly 500, with about 300 of those here in Utah. The company began in 2006 with CEO John Pope, chief marketing officer Matthew Peterson, chief product officer Michael Sharp, product manager Andrew Skeen, vice president of technology Steve Todd and fellow co-founder Brent Thomson.
Back then, they didn’t necessarily have titles, because they all wore multiple hats, and not one of the founders thought they’d be in the position Jive is in today. The company was founded on an industry that wasn’t fully formed at the time — cloud computing. Pope will tell you they were very, very lucky on their timing — just a few years earlier, and their idea would have failed.
“We felt that business telephone systems would move from being onsite to being in the cloud. At the time, that wasn’t clear in the industry, but we made our bed and went all in. We bootstrapped it and it worked,” Pope said.
“We’re very fortunate to have hit our growth spurts as internet infrastructure advanced. Timing really was in our favor,” Peterson added.
The founders originally created their cloud-based telephone system out of their own need. They all were working at another small startup company, Agile Studios. That business needed a phone system, but the team balked at the high price tag of installing the onsite phone system.
“So, being engineers, we developed our own phone system. That was Jive’s genesis,” Peterson said.
Sharp feels that being their own first customers has propelled their success. Because they already know and have experienced their customers’ frustrations, they know how to solve them.
“Being our own customer, it really drives what we do as far as what our customers need, are looking for, and their pain points,” Sharp said.
Jive started in Orem, and globally, it has offices in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala and the United Kingdom. As business has grown, Jive’s local operations have moved to different locations within Orem. Jive now operates out of three buildings with its headquarters on 1600 North in Orem. The executive team wants to get all of their Utah employees under one roof, but is still looking at options for doing so.
In 2015, when Jive proposed a new office building on 1200 North in Orem, it got a lot of pushback from residents there. After discussions, the company opted not to go through with the building. Pope said they are still exploring their options, and hope to at least stay in Utah County, because it is a big part of the Jive story.
“This has always been our home, and we’re looking to keep it that way,” he said.
Jive is nearing $100 million in annual revenue, and has consistently won prestigious business awards. The company has also acquired six other companies over the years — most of them without outside funding. Jive skipped the venture capital stage and didn’t take on investors until 2013.
“Growing organically is much easier on your culture. It’s more methodical and purposeful,” Pope said.
Still many locals don’t even know what Jive does, but that doesn’t stop the company from growing. The executive team is driven by what Peterson calls an “appetite” for expanding within the cloud-based unified business communications industry.
“Basically every business has a phone system, and every business could be our customer. It’s limitless,” he said.