There have been rumors floating for a while about the acquisition of Sylantro by Broadsoft. A great source for this info is Fierce where they have been following the matter closely. According to my sources, there has been weeks of negotiations over the price of the deal which will be "shockingly low."
Apparently the reason for the fire sale is Sylantro investors are fed up with the company and want out.
I don't blame them. Sylantro is a company that was early to the VoIP application server space and produced solid products but was plagued by some of the worst business people and marketing teams I have ever met. One of the VPs of Marketing over the years told me he doesn't believe in marketing because they didn't market at his former company, Aspect. This was a major red flag.
Another marketing consultant told me they have an unwritten agreement with Broadsoft where neither of them would market. Yet another flag - and they keep coming.
Earlier marketing teams onboard at the company's founding weren't any better. It seemed as if the marketing teams in fact were there primarily to hurt the company based on my experiences. Really amazing if you ask me - but hold on a second, I need to open a new box of flags.
I would have to say the company's media relations were generally poor as well. They needed serious media relations training... They did have a nice office however.
Often I have investors call me to ask my perception of the companies and CEOs they invest with. I wish one of the Sylantro investors had done this in the past because I had so much to tell them.
Broadsoft for its part was not the king of marketing either -- but the Broadsoft management team was smarter, made better decisions and hit a grand slam by launching a user conference which is very well regarded.
Sylantro execs saw the success of this user conference and decided to duplicate it - but more interestingly make it the centerpiece of their marketing. Sadly they couldn't get the event to gain traction and this seems to be part of the reason for the company's failure - a relentless focus on a failed idea. I don't blame them for trying to duplicate Broadsoft's user conference idea. I might have done the same. The error in judgment was to not shift to a new strategy when this one wasn't working.
Remember, the event became the centerpiece of the company's branding and it was a consistent failure. The company's demise was inevitable when it didn't shift strategy.
Now that my new flag box is open I should share the final shocking comment coming out of a Sylantro exec over the year, "We don't compete with Broadsoft, and here is how we are different." Sadly, the two companies were head to head competitors and either the company wasn't aware of a fact everyone else knew or they were trying to spin the truth. Either way - comments like this show you there were major problems at the company - and of course result in the final flag of this post.
Having shared with you the incompetence of the company's execs over the years I should mention I was very impressed with Sylantro's attempts to leverage mashups as part of its strategy. Mashups are great at generating press but in the end they didn't generate the revenue needed to let the company increase its sales dramatically.
Moreover Broadsoft did a better job promoting their mashup initiative so even though Sylantro came to me first with the idea, Broadsoft executed the same idea much more successfully.
From my perspective, losing Sylantro is a good thing for the market because Broadsoft was a better company and moreover I no longer have to leave meetings with Sylantro execs wondering how they are still in business.