Industry Opinion: Why I'm Optimistic About Blackbaud's Acquisition of Convio
Third, I think this will speed up, not slow down, technological development. This is probably a vast oversimplification, but my perception is that Blackbaud has always had the edge in technological robustness and service, while Convio has had the edge in speed and responsiveness. In November 2010 I got to see a preview of the next generation of Blackbaud's Friends Asking Friends system. I was completely blown away — blown away by the potential, by the power of the system and by how much Blackbaud had listened to Event 360's own best practices to include them in the system. The only disappointment came when I learned that the system wouldn't be widely available until 2013! To Blackbaud's credit, this is how it works — methodically. Blackbaud wants to get it right. But at the same time, the market is changing too quickly; nonprofits need help now. I think the addition of Convio's talent and products could add afterburners to Blackbaud's rollouts.
Fourth, there's enough market pressure to control prices. I think the concerns about "monopoly pricing" are vastly overexaggerated, for several reasons. One, if the new Blackbaud prices too high, it's going to encourage many nonprofits to look to low cost and open source alternatives. The strategists at Blackbaud are too smart for that. (And as a side note, to my friends at smaller technology companies — this acquisition is great news for you, too. One of you is going to become the new best alternative.) Two, my sense is that Blackbaud is more concerned about the Salesforces, Oracles and Microsofts of the world than the CiviCRMs. The market will shift, new alternatives will emerge, new standards will be created — but I don't think every NPO CFO needs to reach for the wallet.
What's to be determined
As I said at the beginning, there's still a lot to be ironed out.