The nonprofit community was stunned yesterday when Blackbaud purchased long time rival Convio. According to Blackbaud President Marc Chardon, “Combining Convio and Blackbaud is expected to help create one of the largest SaaS vendors with over $440 million in trailing twelve months pro forma revenue.” So what does this acquisition mean for the nonprofit community, in particular for the 1500+ customers that use Convio? No one really knows for sure yet. But the community has a lot of opinions about the acquisition.
“When we are sitting in between the announcement and the actual change, we can go many directions with speculation - from hopes to fears," said Amy Sample Ward of NTEN. "Personally, I see this acquisition as another link in a chain of events over the last few years that are sending a clear signal. Whether it was the news like Ideablob shutting down, Causes leaving MySpace, or Blackbaud buying Convio, the message to individuals and organizations alike is this: we always have and will continue to have an opportunity to call for what we want and build it. If we choose to only invest in tools or platforms that we are not engaged with, we are putting too many eggs in one basket. If we invest in tools and communities that engage with us to build the solutions we need, we put ourselves and our missions in a better place. That said, I know Blackbaud has made efforts to engage its users and I hope that this kind of collaboration will only increase.”
Colin Delany, Editor of Epolitics.com says “some of us were on GetActive back when Convio bought it (2007?). I'm using Convio at a different organization now, and frankly I don't see any significant advantage the merger brought to customers, and all I really expect from this new development is less competition in the market. But of course, I'm only using Convio's CRM/advocacy/fundraising tools, not their "Luminate" Salesforce-based database, so perhaps I'm missing something that will make a difference."
"In any case, good thing we still have Salsa and NationBuilder," said Delany.
Here’s my personal take.
When two strong companies come together who already have a solid foundation in the market place, there is enormous potential to create an even better product and customer service. Of course there is a downside to mergers like this too, which we will discuss in “The Bad” section below.
Both Convio and Blackbaud have some incredibly talented developers, marketers, and leaders at their companies. Working side by side towards a shared vision can lead to some major product innovation if these relationships are properly nurtured and egos are left at the door.
With two of the biggest enterprise companies in the nonprofit sector merging, the market is ripe for smaller vendors to come into the market place and provide similar services for smaller to medium size organizations at lower price points. There are already some robust companies serving these types of organizations like Action Kit, Engaging Networks, NationBuilder, Salsa Labs, etc.
It would be the nonprofit world's dream to see Raisers Edge seamlessly integrate with Convio and Blackbaud and not have to do manual imports/exports. This would make fundraising so much easier.
When nonprofits are looking at big enterprise systems their go-to vendors are Blackbaud and Convio. Now the two have merged. So where’s the competition? However, with Salsa Labs recent $5M infusion of venture capital, they certainly can become competitive in the enterprise market. Also Blue State Digital plays a role here too.
Convio users MAY eventually be forced to migrate to Blackbaud just as Get Active clients were forced to migrate to Convio. And for many nonprofits the experience was not a seamless transition.
Some people will probably loose their jobs. No merger is painless. To keep the company profitable, inevitably there are going to be some layoffs.
And so it goes. What kind of an impact do YOU think Blackbaud's acquisition of Convio will have?