With the finalization of its acquisition of Moncton, New Brunswick-based Whitehill, Skywire Software (Frisco, Texas) brings itself closer to its stated goal of "being able to manage the complete life cycle of insurance information," as the vendor's president and CEO Patrick Brandt has expressed it.In an earlier blog entry, my colleague Kathy Burger argued that the then proposed Skywire/Whitehill deal was "unsurprising and logical," given Skywire's ambitions and Whitehill's assets in the document management space.
That view is in keeping with what Celent's Matthew Josefowicz said to me yesterday: "The Whitehill acquisition helps Skywire broaden its customer base and achieve an even stronger position in document automation," he observed. "I suspect that Skywire will continue to make strategic acquisitions of additional companies in other areas, but I'd be somewhat surprised if they acquired further players in document automation in the short term."
In terms of the more logical and obvious benefits flowing from the merger, Skywire's Brandt comments that take it "further and deeper" in its capability to manage the insurance information, for example with the addition of Whitehill's Tracker compliance solution, which Brandt says will "integrate nicely with our document automation, rating and quoting products."
On the not-so-obvious side, Brandt says the acquisition brings a variety of "soft" benefits, such as Whitehill's employee base, which he characterizes as having notable longevity and domain expertise. "It gives us a much deeper talent pool to do some really cool stuff with our products," he says.
Whitehill also brings a senior management team with skills that complement those of Skywire, according to Brandt.
Brandt claims that the two organizations have very similar visions and corporate cultures. "It's not just a good 'spreadsheet' merger," he claims, "it truly is a 'one plus one equals three.'"
Whitehill boss Paul McSpurren, now Skywire's chief strategy officer and general manager of Skywire Software Canada, agrees. "Skywire's core values of 'company, customer and community' are very well aligned with Whitehill's core values of 'innovation, customer satisfaction and business performance,'" he says. "Looking from the outside, you wouldn't see that alignment: the focus on customers, on people."
Corporate compatibility will likely prove important, since Skywire's plan is to fully integrate the Whitehill organization under the Skywire brand. "Our goal is that we're under one brand with a common leadership structure so that we can truly leverage the value of the merger," Brandt comments. "We believe that's a differentiator in the market from some of our competitors that have made multiple acquisitions and kept multiple brands."
It would appear to be fortunate in another respect that Skywire and Whitehill enjoy a high degree of corporate compatibility since, as Brandt acknowledges, the merger effectively joins two local cultures separated by a common language. Allowing that Texan could count as a "derivative" of English, McSpurren agrees.
McSpurren says no decisions have been made yet as to the disposition of Whitehill's massive inventory of legacy stuffed lobsters, famous to trade show attendees. "Who knows? They may just have a Skywire logo on them," he speculates. Not a bad idea.
Posted by Anthony O'Donnell"It's not just a good 'spreadsheet' merger," says Patrick Brandt, president and CEO of Skywire Software.