Aug 12 2008

Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity Knocks

When our friends at Habeas announced that they were exploring a sale of the company a few months back, we were intrigued.  While fiercely competing in the marketplace does create some degree of tension or even mistrust between two companies, that activity also creates a lot of common ground for discussion about the market and the future.

So we are very excited today to announce that we are acquiring Habeas in a deal that is signed and should close within a couple weeks.  Cutting through all the PR platitudes, here’s what this deal really means for our stakeholders:

For everyone we work with, this deal means we have even more scale.  More scale is a good thing.  It means we can invest more in our future in everything from technical infrastructure, to product innovation, to globalization, to employee development.  It’s easy to be great when you’re a 25 person company.  It’s actually quite challenging when you’re a 50-100 person company.  It becomes easier again, though in different ways, when you are a 200 person company with more resources.

For ISPs and filters, more scale means more and better data products to help fine tune filtering algorithms and improve member experience.  It also means an even more streamlined way to reach masses of marketers and publishers. 

For sender clients, we can now offer expanded service levels and access to a broader “footprint” of ISPs and filters who subscribe to our services.  The consolidated company will be one step closer to providing a universal set of standards for measuring sender-focused email quality and reputation.  Some of the details still need to be worked out here, so look for more specific communication from your account representative in the coming weeks.  The one thing we do know at this point is that we will be maintaining both Sender Score Certified and the Habeas SafeList as separate and distinct whitelist programs indefinitely.  So for now, it’s business as usual.

For employees, combining the resources of the two companies means we will be in a better position to wow our clients.  A bigger employee base and a larger company also means more career opportunities for all. 

We have always been mindful that, even as the market leader, we have to earn “every dollar, every day” from our clients, and we have to constantly demonstrate to ISPs and filters that we are not just advocating for our sender clients but for them and their subscribers as well.  None of that changes with this deal.  We still have plenty of competition and are redoubling our efforts to lead the market with innovation and service levels, not just with size and scale.

Our friend Ken Magill wrote some unkind remarks about Habeas a while back.  At the time, as fierce competitors with Habeas, we probably agreed with him.  But as we’ve gotten to know Habeas better over the past few weeks, we realized what a great business the Habeas team has built in the last five years  — including: a strong customer base and partner network, innovative reputation technologies, complementary receiver and data partnerships and most importantly, an incredible team of people as fanatical about saving email as Return Path. For Return Path employees and clients, we get access to these new assets that now makes us an even stronger leader in this space.  And Habeas employees and clients now have expanded access to great resources and talent from Return Path.  But the big winners are the ISPs, filters, and email senders – they will l now have access to a more universal solution to deliverability and filtering accuracy.

So, to  Habeas’ employees, we say “Welcome to the Return Path family!”  We are delighted to have you and look forward to many years of success together.  As I said to my wife when we were in the middle of all the due diligence on the deal, “learning more about Habeas is a little bit like looking in one of those Fun House mirrors at a carnival – you see yourself, just looking slightly different.”  We will all have to work together to move to the common ground from the prior world of competing against each other, but the exciting future of the business and the industry will propel us there.