At an all-hands meeting a week ago, Blackbaud CEO Marc Chardon announced a couple major personnel changes at the Daniel Island-based software company.
Fifty-one of the roughly 2,800 employees at the global firm would be losing their jobs in the coming months, and while some portion of that group would remain with the company in new roles, a new top executive would not.
Gene Austin, who had been chief executive officer of Convio, the Texas-based company Blackbaud acquired this spring, had apparently decided not to continue in his new role as president of the Enterprise Customer Business Unit.
After downplaying the possibility of merger-related job cuts in interviews earlier this year, Blackbaud spokeswomen were out in front about the changes last week.
Perhaps figuring the news would leak out through unofficial channels, which it did, they announced the decisions and had ready explanations.
Spokeswoman Melanie Mathos said only the “roles” had been eliminated because they were duplicative, not the people occupying them, and that only three of the affected jobs are at the local headquarters.
“It’s really not a layoff,” she said. “It’s more of a consolidation.”
Jana Eggers, senior vice president of products and marketing, questioned the newsworthiness of the developments. She said the majority of the 51 employees would end up in one of Blackbaud’s 120 advertised positions and that, as a percentage of the company’s total workforce and in the scheme of such a large acquisition, the cuts were not significant.
As for Austin, they suggested the former Convio chief had expressed reservations about a non-CEO role this spring and, after a few months trying out the job, simply decided to move on to new endeavors.
That all may be true. And some shake-up was to be expected after such a merger.
But the consolidation announcement comes just weeks after the newly combined company reported a quarterly net loss of $2.3 million.
Chardon blamed the longer-than-expected regulatory review of the Convio deal but also referred to “increased macroeconomic headwinds” and revised downward the forecast for services revenues.
Blackbaud had been cutting costs through the recession but was trying to do so without reducing headcount.
This year, the company held back on hiring, according to people familiar with the company’s operations. Are the job cuts a continuation of this effort to save money or the natural consequence of a merger and nothing more?
The company’s annual conference, BBCon, is later this month. Perhaps we’ll know more then.
If not, Blackbaud will report its financial results again later this fall, and those numbers will show whether the cuts were part of a smart, leaning strategy or something else.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.
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