An acquisition involving two California software companies with nearly identical names could cause heartburn for one of Charleston region's largest technology employers, analysts at one firm said last week.
The observation stemmed from publicly traded Salesforce Inc.'s $300 million acquisition Salesforce.org for $300 million. As part of the integration, the buyer will begin offering cloud software services to nonprofits and educational institutions, making it a direct competitor for Daniel Island-based Blackbaud Inc.
Salesforce.org is a nonprofit entity that was created to sell Salesforce Inc.'s software to other nonprofits. It did so at a discount, and it is unclear if those customers will see a price hike after the acquisition.
Needham & Company analysts wrote in a note to investors they consider the Salesforce.org to be the biggest compeitor for Blackbaud, which also sells cloud software mainly to philanthropic groups. The acquisition means the larger Salesforce entity will be investing more into its those customers, potentially making it a more formidable rival.
"We think the higher spending by this competitor will create additional challenges for Blackbaud, particularly as it sunsets its legacy products," the Needham analysts wrote.
They also noted that Blackbaud is clearly still the leader in its market space. They also think the Charleston company is vulnerable to new competitors, mainly because it has struggled to add new customers.
Catherine LaCour, chief marketing officer for Blackbaud, said in a written statement the company is the world leader in cloud software for the "social good community."
"Our competitive landscape, which includes a long list of players across the many vertical markets we serve, hasn’t changed in a long while," LaCour said. "Blackbaud customers value our unique expertise in and commitment to this space, and they see the impact they get from software that has been created for their specific needs. It’s why we became the leader here, and why we continue to grow.”
Blackbaud shares took a slight hit after the Salesforce deal was announced late Mondayn, falling about $3 when the opening bell rang Tuesday. They were down about 4 percent to $78.97 for the holiday-shortened week.
Blackbaud has recently sought to expand what it offers. Its earliest products helped nonprofit groups manage their donations. Now, it wants the software it sells to run the entire organization's business, and educational institutions have been a new area of focus.
Founded in 1999, San Francisco-based Salesforce was among the first companies to revolutionize the use of the cloud, where information is managed in offsite data centers rather than locally on a computer. It has about 35,000 employees.
Blackbaud has more than 3,000 workers, and its stock market value is equal to about 3 percent of Salesforce's $119 billion.