Wikipedia and a slew of other sites may have shut down today to protest SOPA, but that’s not the only big story in the online advocacy space this week: yesterday Blackbaud announced that the company would be buying Convio, a leading provider of email advocacy and online fundraising for nonprofits and trade associations (disclaimer: my current employer uses Convio for our email-list management). Seems like just yesterday it was Convio buying GetActive, which I was then using at my previous full-time job!
As you can imagine, this development stirred up an anthill on the listservs, with some people still unhappy with Blackbaud about how it handled its acquisition of Kintera years ago (among other things). My favorite response: on a Convio customer conference call yesterday, one online organizer apparently prefaced a question for Convio’s Gene Austin with, “As someone who just signed a contract with Convio because it WASN’T Blackbaud….” Ouch!
I’m generally in the camp that more competition in the industry is better, which is one reason I’ve been a fan of the rise of NationBuilder, but not everyone agrees. For two vastly opinions, check out Talkin’ Blackbaud Blues and Why I’m Optimistic About Blackbaud’s Acquisition of Convio. You can guess that I lean toward the former, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter: this is business, and it looks like something as close to a done deal as you’re going to get.
Update: see also Building a Community, Not an Empire, Blackbaud Buys their Rival Convio: Now What?, and What might Blackbaud do with Convio?