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Message Systems, Port25 Cultures will Not Clash: Merrick

2/10/15
 
By Ken Magill
 
One question that has yet to be answered in Message Systems’ acquisition of rival Port25 is whether or not their cultures will mesh.
 
Message Systems CEO Phillip Merrick says they will.
 
Message Systems announced last week it had acquired Port25 Solutions in an undisclosed cash-and-stock deal.
 
Port25's technology, customer base and staff will be combined into Message Systems as a stand-alone business unit that will continue to focus on serving the medium-to-large-sized sender market, a press release announcing the deal said.
 
"This acquisition definitively positions Message Systems to serve the email infrastructure needs of companies of all sizes — from developers at startups through to the world's largest senders with both cloud and on-premise solutions," stated Merrick in the release.
 
But what of the two companies’ cultures? Email marketing has certainly had its share of rocky marriages.
 
e-Dialog immediately comes to mind. The email service provider was acquired by GSI Commerce in 2008. Then GSI Commerce was acquired by eBay in 2011.
 
Just days before the eBay deal was announced, GSI reportedly fired dozens of e-Dialog’s top executives. According to former employees interviewed at the time, the company culture morphed from one of open doors and communications to keep your mouth shut and cover your ass, and the employees who could, left.
 
Then there’s the historical email-marketing poster child for cultural-integration troubles: Epsilon. It all worked out quite well for Epsilon in the end, but the process sure wasn’t pretty.
 
Epsilon acquired email service provider Bigfoot in 2005 for $120 million and DoubleClick’s email unit in 2006 for $90 million. By all accounts the ensuing integration—culturally and technologically—was a nightmare, culminating in an exodus of disgruntled DoubleClick employees and the ouster of Epsilon CEO Al DiGuido.
 
Email marketing also has its share of seemingly solid marriages. IBM and Silverpop, and Salesforce.com and ExactTarget come to mind. However, they weren’t rivals.
 
Message Systems and Port25 were.
 
Executives naturally tend to dislike their rivals and it can be difficult to put those feelings aside.
 
Merrick claims, however, they’re all geeks and their cultures should mesh just fine.
 
“I was concerned about that [culture clash],” he said. “I checked postings on social media and all of them were about perceived weaknesses in one another’s products. There was nothing personal.”
 
The marriage certainly brings together two world-class customer bases.
 
Message Systems customers include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Groupon and PayPal. 
 
Port25's customer base includes Salesforce Marketing Cloud, SmartFocus (previously Emailvision), The New York Times, Oracle Responsys Marketing Suite, Microsoft, and Turner Broadcasting.
 
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