blueKiwi, the small French provider of SaaS-based online community solutions, has been acquired by ATOS for a reported 20 million Euros (ex-blueKiwi CEO Carlos Diaz confirmed the acquisition via Twitter). Having tracked bluekiwi for several years now (we published this On The Radar report on blueKiwi back in 2008), I think this is good news for the company, which has struggled to gain profile and market share in this highly competitive area. The company has made several efforts to grow its presence outside France – firstly in the UK in early 2008 and then in 2011, and then in the US in early 2010 – but none of these have been particularly effective. It has/had some high profile backers – investors included Sofinnova partners and Dassault Systemes through funding rounds as far back as 2007 – but with little significant growth in the last few years, I imagine the investors were keen to sell. It’s interesting that Dassault has apparently stepped aside, having had a strong role in the company’s strategy and direction until now.
So what is ATOS getting here? Well, blueKiwi’s technology is designed to support online communities both inside and outside the organisation, though most of the company’s customers use it mainly for internal collaboration. The existing client base is mainly European, with some strong traction in government and manufacturing in addition to the Dassault-led professional services connection. I see the technology’s main strengths being in the area of social analytics, with strong capabilities around people and content recommendations, and reputation systems (i.e. gamification). ATOS has already declared its own position on the future of internal collaboration (late last year the company’s CEO Thierry Breton made various tech and non-tech news headlines with his plan for an end to internal email at ATOS by 2014) and this software would fit neatly as part of a services offering targeting this same goal.
For blueKiwi customers, I don’t see that there is any immediate need for concern – ATOS will be keen to build upon blueKiwi’s existing relationships, and I wouldn’t expect the company to stop supporting them. Furthermore, having ATOS’ financial strength behind them will be more reassuring than was the case when blueKiwi was independent. What remains to be seen is what happens to blueKiwi’s partnerships – while the company had a handful of more established or closer partnerships (notably with Microsoft and Dassault), as part of a broader ATOS offering there is potential for much more investment in partnerships, both for the channel and for technology integrations.
This is definitely good news for blueKiwi, and I can’t help thinking it may be a win-win all round. Do you agree? What would you like to see ATOS do with blueKiwi?