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mindSHIFT Snaps up groupSPARK Owner

In honor of the brands and companies in this entry, we'd like to start puttingWORDS together and writing the second one in allCAPS.

Last week, mindSHIFT, a provider of hosted and on-site IT services for SMBs, bought a company called Collaboration Online, a provider of hosted applications better known by some of its brand names, such as groupSPARK and AgileWave CRM. The acquisition was of particular interest to RCPU because Ravi Agarwal, CEO of Collaboration Online, featured prominently in RCP's April cover story.

mindSHIFT has very little channel presence to date, its CEO says, and the company's acquisition of Collaboration Online -- which has a partner program in place and provides "white label" hosting for partners -- will give mindSHIFT a foothold in the channel.

In a chat with RCPU, mindSHIFT Chairman and CEO Paul Chisholm said of the buyout: "It gives us greater scale and capability. It's part of the economics of this business. They do purely some Exchange hosting for some very large customers; our model would be time consuming to do that. Geographically, they're dispersed because of this big channel program they have. We're primarily direct."

And mindSHIFT will stay a direct-sales company, Chisholm says, while taking advantage of Collaboration Online's channel program.

As for Agarwal and his company, they're moving on with business as usual, just with more money than before: "We wanted to make sure that we were able to stand on our own," the April RCP star said. "That has not changed -- our day-to-day work hasn't changed. We now can pull a larger set of resources from mindSHIFT. The Exchange hosting market is growing like crazy, and we needed a greater set of resources. We still have our small company environment and the resources of a larger company."

And now, at least at the corporate level, Agarwal has a funnyNAME to match that of groupSPARK. It's all about synergy in this business.

Posted by Lee Pender on 04/10/2008 at 1:21 PM


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