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Christopher Knight

Sparky's Comments on Lyris's Acquisition of
By Christopher Knight

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If you haven't heard yet, let me be the first to tell you: Lyris Technologies has acquired the remaining majority of SparkLIST that they didn't own yet.

How SparkLIST Started

SparkLIST ran a highly modified version of the software majordomo for its list service from August 1996 to September 1999. After working all day and night to patch, patch, and re-patch each of the servers, we had to find a better solution for our clients and our business model.

After much research, Lyris ListManager was selected as the replacement for SparkLIST's SuperDomo. Rather than buy the software outright, we traded a minority ownership in our company in exchange for all of the licenses we needed to operate SparkLIST.

Along with a commitment to 100% satisfaction guaranteed, and a general attitude of giving our clients more than they expected to pay for, SparkLIST with Lyris ListManager software went on to grow by 10 times.

The Dot Com Downturn

The bursting of the dotcom bubble had two impacts on us: one positive, one negative.

The positive impact was that it forced us to focus on gaining new business not just from dotcoms, but from stable, brick-and-mortar companies. Our efforts were successful, and today we continue to be both profitable and debt-free.

But the negative impact was on the value of our business: Many other companies in general space were having problems, both reducing the pool of potential acquirers and diminishing interest in our sector.

And along came Lyris. Lyris was also profitable, debt-free and looking to expand. Lyris developed the software we run, and had experience running its own hosting service. Lyris has also just introduced ListManager 6.0, with a lot of new, advanced email-marketing features. These new features would help better serve not just our traditional base of email publishers but let us better meet the demanding, one-to-one needs of email marketers.

The synergies of an acquisition were obvious. Customers could keep using the system they knew and loved (and had invested in). And with Lyris, they could get enhanced capabilities faster. So Lyris made an offer to buy SparkLIST, and we made a deal.

The Transition

I've agreed to join Lyris for a transition period to help ensure a smooth and uneventful transition. Stu, Mindy and Mike from SparkLIST's Milwaukee tech staff are joining Lyris's new SparkLIST division. They take with them years of SparkLIST knowledge to bridge the gaps.

For the next month, my focus will be working behind the scenes to make the SparkLIST transition smooth.

It should be noted that I have respect for John Buckman, the CEO of Lyris Technologies, Inc. and several of his executives. Every company has a spark at the center of its business, and John is definitely the spark at the center of Lyris and now the new spark at the center of "SparkLIST." Kind of corny, I know, but true.

At this point, I'd just like to thank every SparkLIST client who put their trust and faith in myself and the SparkLIST team. If you're a SparkLIST client, know that I will do everything in my power not to let you down as the Sparky helm is transferred to main engineering over at Lyris. It's a heavy burden of responsibility that Lyris picked up to each of our clients, and Lyris CEO John Buckman has assured me of his commitment to the SparkLIST business. If he does as well with SparkLIST as he has done with ListManager, I am sure everything will work out for the best.

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter:

Ezine-Tips for August 06, 2002

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