Why a cloud communications veteran is excited about Glip and team collaboration.
After working for one of RingCentral’s rivals in cloud-based communications services, Mike Pugh was looking for a change. That is why he joined RingCentral as VP of Collaboration, rather than taking a job similar to his previous work championing cloud phone and fax services.
“I had a great career in communications, but I love collaboration,” he says. “The idea of products that help teams of people do their jobs better is the most exciting thing in the world for me.”
Pugh entered the world of cloud communications in 1997 as one of the founding members of the management team at eFax, where he was VP of Product. After eFax became part of j2 Global in 2000, he spent 15 years in various leadership roles there, becoming VP of Marketing and a Business Unit Leader for fax and phone services. He says he succeeded as a marketer in a cloud business because he understood the importance of having a product that sells itself.
After leaving j2 in 2015, he first connected with RingCentral as a consultant, doing a business review of its product lines and marketing strategies. RingCentral Glip team messaging and collaboration jumped out at him as a product that deserved more attention on its own, in addition to the company’s plans to make it a core component of RingCentral Office. When he was invited to join the company and execute his recommendations, he says, “I decided that was a job I’d like to have.”
We recently sat down with Mike to talk about the opportunity ahead he sees for Glip. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Glip?
Mike Pugh: The RingCentral product road map has many on-ramps. Glip is the widest, with a free service that makes it easy for any team, large or small, to be more productive right away. When we sign them up for free, the only way we convert them to paying customers is by first proving the value of the base service, the thing they can get for free.
In the process, we are bringing communications and collaboration to a mass audience, which is a huge opportunity.
What attracted you to serving in this particular role at RingCentral?
Mike Pugh: I’m excited to come in to the office every morning with the goal of helping people work better together. That mission spans every industry and job function. I love a big challenge. My favorite thing in my career has been putting together teams, and that’s what Glip is all about.
Tell me something about your leadership style. How do you motivate people to excel?
Mike Pugh: I come from a team sports background, so I’ve got a coach’s style of leadership: prep the team for the game, put them in a position to win, then give them room to do their thing.
How do you motivate yourself? What drives you?
Mike Pugh: I grew up as the youngest of three brothers, so I love being the underdog. When I played against my older brothers, nobody expected me to win or even score—but when I did, it was good for weeks of gloating.
Making hard things work is a big motivation for me.
What is the toughest part of your job?
Mike Pugh: I love to work on products where the user and buyer are one and the same. In that world, there can be no gap between what is promised and what is delivered. And while a free service is easy to adopt, it’s also easy to leave. The only way to succeed is to solve the problems that customers face every day. Those challenges keep me on my toes.
Anything else you bring to the role?
Mike Pugh: I love the fun side of work, and I particularly love holidays and special occasions. I dress up for Halloween whether or not anyone else in the company does.
I was a puma one year, with a full cat costume. I’ve been a navy captain. One of the Super Mario Brothers, Luigi, I guess. A construction worker. It tends to be based on whatever I can find at the local thrift store. Thrift stores and bargains of all sorts are something else I love. Maybe that is part of what attracts me to freemium business models.
The thing my coworkers already know is that I’m a Southern California sports fan working for a Northern California company. Now I’m working in a city that’s having lots of success with Northern California teams. That really plays to my underdog vibe—to be among a bunch of smart and passionate San Francisco sports fans and to be the one guy waving the flag for my Southern California teams.
Originally published Nov 16, 2017, updated Aug 12, 2020