Earlier this week Dachis Group announced that it had acquired Stuzo, a developer of social marketing applications on the Facebook platform. This was an interesting move as Dachis was historically seen as a consultancy – advising clients in an agnostic way about tools and technologies suitable for their particular area. At the time I commented on what I saw was a “roll up” approach that Dachis was making. Founder and CEO Jeff Dachis replied saying;
Build up, roll up – either way it’s a move into a much broader strategy from the Austin based business that has attracted $50 million in funding and now has officers in eight cities across five countries. After the Stuzo release, Dachis said that the deal fitted nicely into its strategy of becoming the “world leader in Social Business Design”.
This strategy is further expanded today with the release of a product built in concert with MindTouch. This release creates a product that is an extension of a customization of MindTouch that Dachis uses for its own purposes. The product mix includes MindTouch’s regular social intranet product (authoring, social profiles, LDAP integration and branding) with the specific tools built on the platform by Dachis and its partners (workforce projects, issue tracking and workforce commenting).
So what does this mean?
Well it does lead to some questions (as does the Stuzo acquisition) about Dachis’ ability to remain neutral when advising its customers. Partnering with organizations, or owning technology platforms is a tad problemmatic when advising client on the best solutions for their pain points. I put these questions to Jeff and asked how they balance the tensions. His response was interesting:
We have always been and will stay technology agnostic for the benefit of our clients. Mindtouch was influenced by our design and architecture to create this offering and is acknowledging the credit for it…there is no tension
Jeff’s response makes sense, after all Stuzo is a platform on which to build solutions, rather than a prebaked solution set itself. The MindTouch product however is something deeper and Jeff’s response would seem to distance Dachis somewhat from the MindTouch announcement. While accepting that MindTouch was influenced by Dachis’ implantation and customization of the product, Jeff would seem to indicate that for them it was much more in keeping with the creation of a “signature range” product and as such the relationship goes no further than allowing MindTouch to leverage the credibility of the Dachis brand. As he said:
Think : Ford Explorer (Eddie Bauer Edition)… It made and sold and serviced by Ford with Eddie Bauer Styling…. : )
I touched base with Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch to get a bit more of a feeling about this. He laid it out pretty straight – historically Dachis had a bunch of solutions that were doing a relatively poor job of meeting their needs. Using a selection of core and non-core MindTouch modules, and developing some prototype modules, Dachis were able to create a product that hit their sweet spot. In a typical open source approach, Dachis didn’t want to face the cost of developing and supporting the customizations so gave MindTouch the ability to take what they had created back to the marketplace – at arms length and with no vendor-bias.
Regardless of the sensitivities around a consultancy being seen to endorse a product – it’s important to look at this product offering and appreciate it for what it is, a solution that broadens the sorts of organizations hat MindTouch can solve pain points for. That’s good for MindTouch (sell more stuff), good for dachis (have another product in the arsenal) and ultimately good for the customers.