A year ago today Personify announced it was acquiring Wild Apricot, the all-in-one SaaS solution for small- to medium-sized membership-based organizations that I co-founded in 2006 with my friend Dmitry Buterin. Back then, a handful of people worked tirelessly to create the first version of Wild Apricot. I remember how excited we were to get our first customer in November 2006.
Today, Wild Apricot is rated the #1 membership management solution on Capterra, and over 25,000 organizations use Wild Apricot to eliminate up to 90% of their administrative work. Many of those early customers are still with us. And our team of 115 employees still includes some of our original team members. I couldn’t be more proud of how far all of us – our customers and our staff – have come.
Last September, when Personify acquired Wild Apricot, we stepped into a major new chapter in our history. Those of us who were involved in the acquisition knew that joining forces had the potential to create a bright future for all. But acquisitions tend to create unease. Clients worry that their product will change for the worse or disappear, while staff worry that a merger will mean overlapping jobs and layoffs. When the acquisition was announced, many industry experts were skeptical, wondering why Personify would acquire us, a product that seemed incompatible and built for a different market.
Shortly after the acquisition, one analyst took a contrarian view. Ben Martin, founder of theNIRD.org, wrote an independent analysis of the acquisition, saying “...this deal is actually brilliant. Here’s why: Unlike other recent acquisitions which brought together similar products addressing similar verticals, Wild Apricot and Personify have almost no overlap.”
Martin went on to explain that with such little overlap, there wasn’t a need to deal with the usual challenges of an acquisition, such as managing similar platforms that serve the same clients or bringing together similar businesses where duplication of effort is a concern.
We’re happy to say that the last twelve months have proven out Martin’s positive view of the acquisition. We have not had the typical acquisition-related layoffs. Instead, the acquisition has created more opportunities for our employees and we’ve been hiring in many business areas. The acquisition has also given us the opportunity to strengthen our product and add more value to our customers. This year, we introduced an online store, a mobile app for members, and our own Wild Apricot payments processor.
One of the most notable positives from the acquisition relates to the one area where there was overlap between Personify and Wild Apricot – the fact that one-quarter of Personify customers had local chapters using Wild Apricot. By having Wild Apricot and Personify360 under one roof, we are able to give more to the headquarters of a national organization and their chapters.
Headquarters now have the tools they need to help their chapters grow their membership, run successful events, and ensure alignment with the corporate goals and mission. At the chapter level, any chapter using Wild Apricot has the technology they need to run their organization with a website and system that is consistent with the overall brand of their parent organization. These benefits are the reason that one-third of Personify360 customers now have chapters running on Wild Apricot.
Another positive that has come out of our partnership with Personify is the opportunity to host live events, which is something we never had much chance to do before. Since the acquisition, we’ve been able to take part in Personify’s events, such as PersoniFest, the annual user conference that brings together hundreds of customers, partners and staff for three days of learning, networking, and fun.
In 2018, we sent eight Wild Apricot staff to PersoniFest. Not only was it a great opportunity for staff members to meet some of our clients, but it was also the first time that some chapters, who are using Wild Apricot, met people from their headquarters, who are using Personify360.
Jodi Holstein, the Executive Director of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), Greater Denver chapter, learned for the first time at PersoniFest that the national IREM organization uses Personify360.
“Our Chapter has used Wild Apricot for about three years,” said Holstein. “I recently discovered the potential to link Wild Apricot to Personify. This will change the landscape of how I manage the chapter.”
Now, as we close this exciting chapter on the first year as part of Personify, I look forward to more years in partnership with the Personify family. We can’t wait to connect in-person with our customers at the upcoming Personify Connections user groups, trade shows and PersoniFest annual conferences. We’re hard at work adding more value to our Wild Apricot software, such as more mobile capability, e-commerce and data visualization. And we’re building more ways for parent organizations and their chapters to connect and move their missions forward.