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May 8, 2012; Source: The Post and Courier

One of the most significant mergers in the realm of nonprofit technology in recent years is now in the books. This week, Blackbaud and Convio began operating as one entity in the wake of a merger in which the former acquired the latter for $325 million. Blackbaud specializes in software and services that increase efficiency for nonprofit organizations, and Convio is “a leading provider of constituent engagement solutions that enable nonprofit organizations to maximize the value of every relationship,” according to its website.

Clearly, the two companies were compatible, but the finality of the merger was previously in question as the Justice Department undertook an antitrust review to make sure that the combined entity would not stifle competition in the marketplace for nonprofit technology solutions.

Blackbaud CEO Marc Chardon admitted that he was considering the possibility that Justice’s review could revoke the merger, but Blackbaud Senior Vice President of Product Management and Marketing Jana Eggers said she was “very comfortable with the feedback from our attorneys and knowing the industry that there wasn’t something there.” Nonetheless, Eggers says she is “happy it’s done.”

Will Blackbaud and Convio’s nonprofit customers be happy, too? “The first thing [customers] want to know is, ‘What’s going to happen to my product? I chose you for a reason … and I don’t want that to change,’” according to Eggers. In the short term, it doesn’t sound like much will change for those customers. Blackbaud will continue to support Convio’s products and services.

One question that remains is how “open” the newly merged entity will be. While Convio products have drawn a fair amount of praise for their interoperability with other platforms, such as Salesforce, Blackbaud has “historically had the reputation for making it difficult for third-party vendors to work on their products, and charging a lot to nonprofits simply to gain access” to some products, according to the Community IT Innovators (CITI) blog. However, Eggers told attendees of the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference that Blackbaud is revamping its strategy to be more architecturally inclusive in the future.

While the merger is certainly too fresh for observers to draw many conclusions at this point, we would be interested in hearing from Blackbaud and Convio customers in the future about what effect, if any, the merger may or may not have on your experience with the newly merged company. –Mike Keefe-Feldman