The email industry’s latest buyout happened a few days ago and we witnessed a highly reputable email monitoring and deliverability reputation company Pivotal Veracity agree to buyout terms from Unica, an Email Service Provider with gunpowder. Unica is attempting to be a “one-stop shop” for marketers that utilize their suite of services and with the acquisition of Pivotal Veracity, Unica may have completed it’s mission of also providing email reputation and deliverability services to its core clients.
What amazes me about this transaction is that Pivotal Veracity was really making strides in becoming a thought-leader in this small field, and was competing closely with archrival ReturnPath. I believe the buyout could potentially alienate a number ESP’s from eventually partnering with Pivotal Veracity. As a result of the buyout, ESPs will be very cautious in their approach to working with Pivotal Veracity. However, this by no means diminishes Pivotal Veracity’s tremendous accomplishment and a huge congratulations is in order to everyone associated with Pivotal Veracity including but not limited to Deirdre Baird, Michelle Eichner, Jordan Cohen and Len Schnyder. It certainly looks like Pivotal Veracity accomplished their goal and executed on their exit strategy perfectly. For many successful companies, “stage five” constitutes an exit strategy of some kind. This process usually happens after key executives and members of the board vote on such an initiative. I just think that stage five might have come a bit early for Pivotal Veracity.
All evidence seems to show that the real winner in this transaction is ReturnPath. ReturnPath no doubt also has an exit strategy, but they appear unwilling to divulge a strategy or partner with an ESP at this point, given their unique leadership position and respected voice in the industry. Although Pivotal Veracity has many well spoken and thought provoking leaders on their staff, I think ReturnPath and their consummate staff are the real superheroes here. From Stephanie Miller, the passionate and relentless email advocate to the outspoken J.D. Falk, whose innate knowledge of email technology and deliverability illuminates us all. Then, of course, there is the self-proclaimed spamfighter himself, Neil Schwartzman. Without a doubt, ReturnPath’s luminaries saturate the industry with reliable and balanced messaging every time.
Furthermore, with leading services in place that are more robust than ever (such as the latest from Sender Score outlined here by Spencer Kollas), and definitive plans in place for maximizing and monitoring domain reputation for senders, the future looks promising. When you take emails bright future into account, it appears that ReturnPath is poised for many quarters of strong growth. I don’t want to sound like an analyst here, but I really think ReturnPath has what it takes to raise the bar for the entire email community and further develop its existing reputation services.
With these developments, ESPs will now will look to ReturnPath as the consummate leader in the email reputation monitoring space and see one fewer rival, one fewer choice to make. Senders and ESPs will find that ReturnPath is the only high level and sovereign conduit for stellar email deliverability monitoring and reputation. The allure of ReturnPath is its stout independent position in our space (a positon that only those in our space truly appreciate.) Certainly Matt Blumberg, George Bilbrey and their hardworking crew can now navigate the email reputation landscape exclusively.
At some point in the future, I’m sure ReturnPath also has an exit strategy in mind and that strategy is not for us to surmise. I would venture to guess that as the industry continues to mature and consolidate, ReturnPath may consider filing for an IPO, especially as we see continued consolidation in this space. I think what matters most is to enjoy the exciting journey that ReturnPath is paving for our industry. We now have two choices: we can either watch or we can help them build a company of which we can all be proud of.