SALT LAKE CITY – April 4, 2022
CaptionCall Parent Company, Sorenson Announces Change in Ownership
For release: April 4, 2022
Sorenson, America’s Leading Provider of Accessible Communication Services, Announces Strategic Transaction
Ariel Alternatives, LLC completes purchase of majority stake in Sorenson
Partnership to enable the expansion of Sorenson’s inclusive communication options for Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and additional diverse populations worldwide
Newly appointed CEO and board directors bring enhanced product, security, and regulatory expertise to leadership team
Salt Lake City, April 4, 2022 – Sorenson (or “the Company”), the leading U.S. communications provider for people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing, announced today that private investment firm Ariel Alternatives, LLC has completed an acquisition of 52.5% of the Company’s common equity from existing shareholders, including Blackstone Credit, a fund managed by Franklin Mutual Advisers, and private credit accounts managed by KKR at an enterprise valuation of $1.3 billion. The selling shareholders will continue to own a minority interest in the company. Ariel Alternatives is the private equity subsidiary of global asset manager Ariel Investments, LLC, the first Black-owned investment firm in the U.S.
Sorenson has been the leader for over 20 years in delivering accessible communications, technology and services to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities in the U.S. and, more recently, in the United Kingdom. Sorenson’s Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) for people with hearing loss, video, in-person American Sign Language and British Sign Language interpreting have modernized the way people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing communicate. This acquisition will not affect Sorenson’s current services.
Today, Sorenson processes more than 140 million conversations annually, and is one of America’s largest private employers of Deaf people. Ariel Alternatives’ investment is expected to enable Sorenson to connect even more people worldwide using the Company’s accessible and inclusive services, by expanding those services to additional 21st century communications platforms. Sorenson’s existing presence in Europe includes a flagship customer in France, and its United Kingdom affiliate, Sign Language Interactions. Sign Language Interactions was recently named by the U.K.’s Office of Communications as the official provider for the U.K.’s new Emergency 999 Video Relay Service (VRS).
This transaction is the first of Ariel Alternatives’ strategic initiative “Project Black,” its mission to scale sustainable minority-owned businesses. Through this effort, Ariel Alternatives seeks to transform portfolio companies like Sorenson into minority business enterprises (MBEs) and position them as leading suppliers to Fortune 500 companies, supporting business diversity. Ariel Alternatives also aims to help portfolio companies generate jobs, economic growth, and equality within underrepresented populations. These impact objectives include but are not limited to: increasing the accessibility of products to underserved communities; the hiring of diverse people from entry level to the boardroom; the purchasing of contracts with minority-owned vendors and suppliers; and philanthropic partnerships with organizations supporting civil rights.
Sorenson Chief Executive Officer Jorge Rodriguez commented: “We are thrilled to partner with Ariel Alternatives. Their investment will enable us to optimize our capabilities, evolve our systems, platforms and approaches to improve the overall Deaf and hard-of-hearing communication experience, and accelerate R&D and next-generation technology investments to promote functional equivalency across the diverse communities we serve. I couldn’t be happier that we have closed such a monumental transaction, given our thesis of accessibility, inclusion and economic opportunities as underlying tenets of our mission to support underserved and underrepresented groups.”
Senior Managing Director of Blackstone Credit and Sorenson board member David Posnick added: “Sorenson has done a phenomenal job of serving the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. I am confident the Ariel Alternatives partnership will extend Sorenson’s service reach, providing communication language access to broader populations.”
Ariel Alternatives has leveraged its extensive network of minority executives to introduce Sorenson to recently appointed CEO Jorge Rodriguez and new board members, including Chairman Paget Alves, and directors Vonya McCann, Colonel J. Carlos Vega and Maria Teresa Lensing. In addition to being people of color, these executives bring critical product, security, and regulatory expertise to Sorenson’s leadership team as the Company evolves and enhances its focus on innovation, consumer protection, and compliance.
- Mr. Rodriguez (Sorenson CEO) was previously the President and CEO of multiple America Movil companies and brings more than thirty years of telecommunications and management experience.
- Mr. Alves (Sorenson board Chairman) most recently served as the Chief Sales Officer and President of Business Markets Group for Sprint Corporation. He is a board member of Assurant, Inc.; International Game Technology, PLC; Synchrony Financial; and Yum! Brands, Inc. He is also on the advisory board for Ariel Alternatives’ Project Black initiative.
- Ms. McCann (Sorenson board director) will provide increased regulatory expertise and a dedicated, board-level focus on ensuring strong compliance at Sorenson. She was a Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at Sprint Corporation, following a long career in both communications and government. Ms. McCann was nominated by President William J. Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Ambassador and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Communications and Information Policy.
- Col. Vega (Sorenson board director) is an experienced cybersecurity professional and a retired U.S. Army Colonel with over three decades of security leadership experience and two decades specializing in cybersecurity operations. With demonstrated capability leading large and small-scale organizations to achieve difficult IT, security, and operational objectives, Col. Vega has led teams in high-stress environments characterized by demanding standards and intense operational schedules. He has led professional operations, research, and technology teams in preparation for demanding missions that include combat and support missions in the most hostile environments.
- Ms. Lensing (Sorenson board director) currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for engineering, infrastructure, and operations at McKesson, where she is strongly focused on engineering design and operational excellence to optimize performance levels. Previously, she held various leadership positions with AT&T and Rockwell Collins. Ms. Lensing is the recipient of numerous business awards and has served on the Hispanic IT Executive Council for the HITEC 100 – 100 Most Influential Hispanic Leaders in Technology.
Sorenson has recently hired and will continue to engage additional ethnic minority, Deaf and hard-of-hearing leaders, advisors, and directors. In addition, the Company is establishing a Deaf Advisory Council that will recommend ongoing best practices for conducting business in the community it serves.
Sorenson was advised by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Credit Suisse. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP served as lead legal counsel to Ariel Alternatives, with Greenberg Traurig LLP serving as co-counsel.
SALT LAKE CITY – March 10, 2022
Sorenson Communications Rallying Support for Ukrainian Deaf Community
Accessible communications provider to match $50,000 in donations
SALT LAKE CITY – (March 10, 2022) – Today, Sorenson Communications announced a partnership with the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) to drive support for Deaf people in Ukraine and for Deaf refugees fleeing the Russian invasion to relocate in neighboring Eastern European countries. Many Deaf Ukrainians, like their fellow citizens, are displaced and without basic supplies but also lack access to information and communication in sign language.
Sorenson, the world’s leading provider of inclusive communication services for Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, is launching a campaign to drive significant financial support for Deaf in the Ukraine and provide an avenue for Deaf and hard-of-hearing to help from abroad.
Visit the Sorenson Donation Site to contribute.
WFD is coordinating support for Deaf Ukrainians through the Ukrainian Society of the Deaf (UTOG), an advocacy organization that networks with local associations throughout the country and that is currently working to ensure Deaf people are included in humanitarian aid and evacuation support and have access to sign language interpreting services. All donations made on the WFD’s Sorenson page will assist UTOG’s work.
This commitment is personal to Sorenson. Born in the Ukraine and now living in the U.S., Yuliya Novosad, who is Deaf, works as a graphic designer for Sorenson. “I am so lucky to work for such an amazing and thoughtful company,” she says. “Thank you, Sorenson, for creating a way to help and support Ukrainian people during this difficult time especially the Deaf community there. My family and I and my friends back in Ukraine are extremely grateful!”
SALT LAKE CITY – March 8, 2022
Sorenson Named a World’s Most Innovative Company by Fast Company
Fast Company recognizes Sorenson for revolutions in communication between Deaf and hearing.
SALT LAKE CITY – (Mar. 8, 2022) Today, Sorenson Communications was named to Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2022.
Sorenson, the world’s leader in accessible communications for Deaf and hard-of-hearing, was thrilled to join the list of other mission-driven businesses that are making the biggest impact on their industries and culture as a whole—ultimately thriving in today’s ever-changing world. Sorenson is among inventive companies, including Canva, Microsoft, and SpaceX, creating the future today with some of the most inspiring accomplishments of the 21st century.
“Sorenson is honored to be named on this preeminent list of forward-thinking companies,” says Jorge Rodriguez, CEO of Sorenson Communications. “We leverage the insight and creativity of our diverse people – brilliant and committed, ‘whole brain’ teams who deeply understand our customers’ unique needs – as a catalyst to disrupt our industries and to deliver inclusive next-generation platforms and services. Our focus on diversity both within our company and in the communities we serve informs everything we do as we innovate new ways to connect people across languages and cultures.”
Sorenson was recognized for accessible technologies, like Lumina, the company’s Deaf-designed videophone, which provides unmatched clarity, cutting-edge innovation, and exceptional design. Additionally, Sorenson’s revolutionary technology, Wavello, was acknowledged as a crucial tool for communication between Deaf and hearing people during the pandemic. Wavello created new possibilities for connection by showing a Deaf caller, ASL interpreter, and a hearing caller on the same Video Relay Service (VRS) call for the first time.
For nearly two decades, Sorenson has been the leader in accessible communication, technology and services for the Deaf community, and today, Sorenson enables over 140 million conversations a year through its ASL interpreting services and its CaptionCall captioned telephone service. In the past three years, the company earned top accolades as an exemplary employer, with additional recognition for its efforts to support women and diversity in its workforce.
“The world’s most innovative companies play an essential role in addressing the most pressing issues facing society, whether they’re fighting climate change by spurring decarbonization efforts, ameliorating the strain on supply chains, or helping us reconnect with one another over shared passions,” said Fast Company Deputy Editor David Lidsky.
“Sorenson is dedicated to driving functional equivalency,” said Mr. Rodriguez. “We will continue to push the envelope with next generation technology and capabilities across our video and captioning platforms to deliver a superior customer experience.”
- Hearing loss and the need for captions to use the telephone effectively are required to receive the CaptionCall captioning service and phone at no cost.
- CaptionCall is a captioning service that uses a live captioning agent and advanced voice recognition technology to generate captions of what the user’s callers say.
- CaptionCall is certified by the FCC to provide captioned telephone service.
- Funding for CaptionCall service is based on an assessment paid by telephone communications companies. These companies often pass this cost along to telephone subscribers in the form of a surcharge.
- The offer of a complimentary CaptionCall phone or captioning service cannot be tied to any other offer or program.
- When you offer CaptionCall, you must explain the eligibility requirements.