Salsa Scoop> tag: ”blog:business“

FreeConference: So Far, So Good

A month ago, we reported on the travails of popular phone conferencing service freeconference, upon which many nonprofits and grassroots organizations depend. I wanted to follow that up, and in particular to climb down from initial concern that freeconference had become crippled as a possible conferencing solution. Without rehashing all the details in the original post, the nub of the matter is that a commercial dispute led a few telcos to begin blocking calls to freeconference. Freeconference has worked this adroitly -- it does help to be in the right -- getting in front with bloggers to generate a hue and cry that's apparently stayed any further damage. After blogging the subject before, I even got a follow-up press release from a PR firm a couple weeks ago that began:
Blocked Conference Calls Cripples Food Programs to the Hungry LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AT&T/Cingular, Sprint and Qwest are blocking access to free conference calling which also is impeding efforts by the California Hunger Action Coalition to stop hunger, according to Frank Tamborello, Executive Director of Hunger Action Los Angeles and Co-Chairperson of the Coalition. The action coalition has depended upon FreeConference for more than four years to connect its volunteers statewide with free conference calling. (etc.)

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You ever have that moment -- where you think, what the devil did people do before the Internet? What did I do? And, "I'm one well-placed electromagnetic pulse from "Omega Man"? I debated in high school, moderately competently. Research was the coin of the realm in forensics, and I presume still is although I haven't been in the game in forever. Are those faint recollections of card catalogue lookups, photocopying magazine pages and then cutting and freaking pasting them -- like kindergarten -- really right? Dragging around several enormous tubs full of profoundly anti-ergonomic evidence to make sure of having the right sheet of paper to whip out and read? That world's information management seems closer to cloistered copyists than the life I lead at the moment.

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FreeConference-Telco Spat a Nonprofit Headache

A carrier dispute redolent of net neutrality threatens trouble for the many small nonprofits who routinely rely on FreeConference for free telephone conference calls. This month, some telco tentacles and wireless carriers began blocking calls to the service, which is widely used by small nonprofits and activist groups. Why the blocking?

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Where's Kintera?

There's a conspicuous absence from the sponsorship credits at the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference home page I stumbled upon in preparing yesterday's low-key upcoming events post. A dependable occupant of the conference's logo rolls the past few years, it's nowhere to be found in 2007. It's a fact of no special importance on its own (except perhaps to NTEN!), but easily read as another milepost in the struggling firm's departure from the data management and CRM universe of rank-and-file nonprofits. Naturally said reading is utter speculation; we have no special insight into this from either side of the [non-]transaction.

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Convio/GetActive Merger Scuttlebutt

The Feb. 1 The Nonprofit Times (link goes to a funky webbook display of their latest issue; you have to click through the specific article) has a cover story on the Convio/GetActive merger putting some speculative dollar amounts on the table and reporting that the purchase was a "nine month" wooing that almost broke off around Dec. 22 for yet-to-be-leaked reasons. It also indulges the speculation (see, for instance, the comment thread at this EchoDitto post) that an IPO is

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CRM Marketplace Narrows as Convio Buys GetActive

Two of the major commercial players in the eCRM space are -- to the shock of seemingly everyone -- tying the knot with Convio buying out GetActive. (Ryan at PICnet graciously reprinted the entire announcement message.) Quite a psychedelic life arc for GetActive, from the petrie dish at Environmental Defense to commercial standalone with a progressive rep to acquisition by the company that provoked a blogswarm by signing on anti-gay groups. Funny, in last month's scorecard of the 2006 tech predictions, Phil at CompuMentor got dinged for forecasting "a shakeout in the nonprofit ASP field, including mergers and acquisitions." Missed that one by 17 days. This is going to significantly alter the playing field for nonprofits. With the last member of the Big Three, Kintera, perpetually in the red, it's quite possible this is going to leave ConActive as the last commercial titan standing -- perhaps facing off with Blackbaud as it ramps into e-CRM. However it goes down, the dynamics and consequences are going to be far-reaching. And though we're somewhat biased, it's good occasion to consider alternatives. Why?
  • GetActive clients now have to learn a new toolset, whether they would or no ... so that particular pain point of transition is a nonissue.
  • The challenges of integrating across systems will make the switchover a bumpy ride, virtually by definition.
  • Convio has been, for the most part, a higher-end player than GetActive, with GetActive a less-expensive commercial alternative. Under even less competitive pressure, one has to think fees stand to increase in general -- though when that happens and whether that's specifically the case for any particular organization or sector of the market still remains to be seen.

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