Breaking up isn’t hard to do: our take on the Salesforce and roundCorner split

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By: Rob Jordan | 6.21.16

It’s time we address the buzz we’ve been hearing surrounding the recent announcement regarding Salesforce.com and roundCorner, but before we can give our assessment, we need to address why this partnership was created in the first place. Simply put, it was an opportunity and a necessity. It’s no secret that Blackbaud’s influence on enterprise level nonprofits is significant. Due to a number of acquisitions, Blackbaud may be the only option for some nonprofits. roundCorner saw this opportunity to build a true cloud solution that rivaled Raiser’s Edge; something that has eluded Blackbaud since it was first announced over seven years ago at an NTEN conference. Salesforce saw the same opportunity that roundCorner identified, and it was rumored that Marc Benioff had a vested interest in roundCorner’s success, which made their partnership all the more synergistic.

With Salesforce and roundCorner working together, it stood to reason that not only could they offer an affordable, accessible solution, but they could also provide an alternative to Raiser’s Edge: everyone wins.

So why did they split?

Initially, the vision of the two companies were in close alignment. The ability to customize solutions easily in the cloud made them clear competitors to Raiser’s Edge. Salesforce allows a user to build what they want, the way they want it, and where they want it. In many ways Salesforce can be seen as a proprietary/open source hybrid. You get all the all the benefits of open source accessibility with all the predictability of a proprietary environment. Between roundCorner’s solid branding and Salesforce's marketing reach they were off to a wonderful start. Ironically, after some time passed, the partnership contradicted what makes Salesforce so great: it’s ‘open sourcery.’

As open source as Salesforce is, roughly 25% of the roundCorner solution is not. Interestingly enough, it’s that 25% that makes the user experience special, and is what makes it competitive with a solution like Raiser’s Edge. The 25% we’re referring to is the ‘secret sauce’ of the solution and needs to be kept under lock and key. This can be a challenge when working with vendors (like Idealist Consulting) who can not easily make changes to that magic 25% without being chaperoned by the company that designed it. The result of that has been slower deployments and slower communication with client.

What does this mean?

The short answer: very little!  roundCorner will continue to do what roundCorner does and Salesforce will do the same. But there will be three fundamental impacts. First, the reduction of promotional heft NGO Connect can expect from Salesforce. You will likely hear less from Salesforce AE's about the platform. Second, projects should speed up since roundCorner will be more deeply engaged with respective deployments moving forward. Third, less brand confusion. With all the acronyms flying around this ecosystem, it was easy to confuse NGOC with the NPSP and therefore conflate Salesforce.org with roundCorner. The two are separate, a fact which is more obvious than ever, and which will ultimately continue to serve their clients best.

Do you have questions about roundCorner, Salesforce, and how all of this could affect you? Let us know and we’ll set up a call to answer your questions.

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