Sitecore has always been quite an acquisitive company, buying up tech providers in the customer experience space to be ultimately integrated into the platform, with new people also adding to the impressive range of expertise that will contribute to the future roadmap. The 2018 acquisition of Stylelabs was particularly significant, resulting in the rebranding of the Content Hub suite of tools, including a Digital Asset Management (DAM) to Sitecore Content Hub. Tom de Ridder, the Styelabs co-founder and CTO, was also eventually appointed as Sitecore’s CTO.
After a pause in acquisitions since 2018, Sitecore has acquired three new companies in the last few weeks:
Boxever: a Customer Data Platform (CDP) focused on using data and intelligence to optimize customer experiences and journeys
Four51: an experience-first headless commerce solution that provides flexibility to drive customer experiences
Moosend: a marketing automation and campaign management platform focusing on email marketing that is easy for users to configure.
In this post, we’re going to explore what these acquisitions mean for Sitecore and its customers.
Why has Sitecore made these acquisitions?
Sitecore is currently going through a period of transformation, helping to deliver on its ambitions to continue to lead in the digital experience space. In the past few months, Sitecore has already announced a huge $1.2 bn investment and several C-level appointments. The acquisitions can be seen as yet another part of this transformation. In fact, Sitecore itself has positioned the acquisitions as “strengthening our DXP leadership”, more specifically, offering an expansion of its digital marketing offerings to customers while also advancing Sitecore’s SaaS journey; the offerings of all three acquisitions are SaaS-based.
Some analysts like Apoorv Durga from the Real Story Group have given a quite gloomy assessment of the acquisitions, suggesting things are “going to get very messy, with divergent architectural models, development patterns, API sets, and wildly different tiers of sophistication across the suite”. Durga also believes buying three SaaS offerings is a move away from Sitecore’s “roots” of a developer-friendly culture and growth built upon a powerful integrator and partner network.
While there are some inevitable challenges in integrating these new acquisitions, Durga’s view is more than a little pessimistic. Here are some conclusions we’ve drawn from the acquisitions.
SaaS is the direction of travel, but that’s okay
Sitecore has made no secret about developing a SaaS version of the platform. The acquisition of three SaaS offerings is another reminder that this is indeed Sitecore’s direction of travel, but Durga’s view that this represents an abandonment of Sitecore’s partner ecosystem and developer “roots” is misguided.
There is no doubt that SaaS represents a departure from the model of Sitecore as a single tenant system available on-premises, as an app or in a managed hosted environment, but we certainly don’t see it as forcing Sitecore to abandon its pro-developer culture.
For example, all three acquisitions have strong APIs and both Boxever and Four51 are highly customizable, leaving plenty of opportunities for Sitecore partners to add value. I agree with my colleague Eric Bradford who was interviewed for a CMSWire article about the acquisitions, commenting that there is a “focus on products with strong, sophisticated API support…Sitecore continues to show their focus on developers and API”.
The acquisitions will add to the breadth of capabilities
We can expect the acquisitions to result in additional features and the deepening of existing capabilities across the Sitecore platform, with elements of the acquired offerings eventually being integrated into the platform. Of course, this is good news for Sitecore customers. Boxever is a CDP with capabilities which will aid personalization and analytics, while Four51 will help companies create exceptional B2B e-commerce sites and Moosend will add more breadth to Sitecore’s Email Experience Manager (EXM) platform.
Integration may take time
It’s still very early days in Sitecore’s plans, so the integration path has not been revealed in total and may not even have been fully determined. Realistically, we believe integration may take some time to be fully achieved. There are also questions that will need to be answered; for example, there are some overlapping capabilities with Sitecore’s existing features, and what will happen here is unclear. It is also quite possible that some of the products, particularly the Moosend platform, may remain more as standalone offerings from the main Sitecore platform. We expect this picture will become clearer in the coming months.
The acquisition consolidates more CX expertise at Sitecore
Buying established players in the Customer Experience (CX) space also brings some solid CX expertise into Sitecore that they can leverage for future enhancements. When you buy a whole company, you also buy high-performing teams that are used to working with each other, as well as key individuals. For example, Dave O’Flanagan, the CEO of Boxever, is transitioning to the role of Sitecore’s Chief Product Officer.
Again, I agree with my colleague Eric Bradford, who told CMSWire: “It’s important to not overlook the organizational aspect. This acquisition isn’t just about the products and existing IP, but it’s also about bringing on a seasoned and focused staff from Moosend.”
Acquisitions that are good for customers
On balance, these acquisitions will be good for Sitecore customers, adding more features to the platform and continuing the evolution of the Sitecore ecosystem. Even if the integration path is still to be determined, this won’t detract from the existing offering. Moreover, the assimilation of some great CX teams into Sitecore can only be beneficial for the long-term future of the platform. The longer-term SaaS direction may have a more profound impact for some customers, but it will be a while before customers will feel this change.
It’s also perfectly possible that Sitecore may make further acquisitions. If and when this happens, we’ll bring you some thoughts here on the blog!