Widen is Now an Acquia Company. Is this DAM Platform a Good-Fit for Acquia?
On September 8th, 2021, Acquia announced that it had agreed to acquire Widen, a cloud-native maker of digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) software. And to be perfectly frank, this is one of the most attention-grabbing announcements to come out of the DAM industry in quite some time.
Dries Buytaert, Co-founder, and CTO of Acquia, recently stated, “Acquia has long been an established leader in managing textual website content. Now, with Widen, we will be able to offer world-class capabilities around rich media and product information content.”
Having a few questions not covered in the September 8th, 2021 press release, I decided to reach out to Lynne Capozzi, Acquia’s Chief Marketing Officer. I wanted to uncover the motivation behind the acquisition and how Acquia and Widen plan on working together, not just internally, but how this will affect their technology and integration partner channels and Widen’s customer base.
First off, congratulations on the acquisition, Lynne! This is big news for the DAM and DXP community!
"Thank you, Gary. We’ve just gotten tremendous feedback, both from Acquia customers, our partners, the analyst community, and Widen customers. It’s just been tremendous validation about the acquisition and nice synergy within an uptrend."
Aside from the obvious benefits of adding a cloud-native DAM and PIM platform to Acquia’s DXP product line, what other motivating factors were there that led to the decision to acquire Widen when there was already an excellent connector built between Acquia and Widen?
"Acquia’s reason was to expand our DXP platform and expand our portfolio. We wanted to make sure that we were providing more tools for customers that fit into the DXP platform, and we think both the DAM and the PIM offerings are a great way to expand those capabilities. We know that the Widen products have been highly regarded and very well rated — they have an unbelievably high customer satisfaction amongst their customer base.
"And from a functionality standpoint, we think Widen’s is hands-down over and above other DAMs on the market. Right now, demand is very high for people integrating content, and Acquia recognizes this as a content player through Drupal. The DAM and PIM products provide the ability to integrate content — things like images, videos, and PDFs — and complements our strength in managing text assets beyond just websites to support marketing workflow. Having the PIM functionality allows marketers, especially those in the eCommerce world, to combine marketing and product information. Having all of these assets in Acquia’s portfolio, we think, gives us the best technology in the market."
Did Acquia consider any other DAM platforms during the acquisition process, and if so, why Widen?
"Acquia did consider a lot of other DAM platforms, and we chose Widen because of the PIM and the existing Drupal integration, which Acquia will continue to enhance. It also provides the best user experience and enterprise-grade scalability, which is very important to us since we have some of the largest customers in the world."
Acquia also announced that the Widen platform would be available as part of the Acquia Open DXP or as a standalone offering. Does this mean that the Widen staff and management will remain at their current location in Madison, Wisconsin, after the acquisition-dust settles?
"Yes, the Widen staff and management will continue to report in Wisconsin, including their remote employees. The whole Widen team will work closely with the rest of the Acquia product team and other areas of the company. We will continue to enhance the development team there in Madison as well as invest in additional development. Acquia is very interested in continuing a Madison presence — we’re going to call it a new center of excellence for us."
What role will Matthew Gonnering, the CEO of Widen, have once the acquisition is complete? Is he staying on with Widen?
"Matthew Gonnering is absolutely staying on with Widen, and he’s very excited about this opportunity. He’ll become the GM of the Madison unit, so he will be running all of the team that’s in Madison, Wisconsin, in a general manager role and will report directly to our CEO, Michael Sullivan."
Will there be any changes on the horizon for Widen’s clientele, such as cost, subscription model, service and support, etc.?
"There will be no immediate changes in terms of packaging or pricing. By becoming part of the Acquia family, Widen customers will have the advantage of more exposure to the rest of the Acquia portfolio and the added value to access other Acquia products."
What about Widen’s integration partner channel? Will those agencies and integration partners be absorbed into Acquia’s partner channel?
"Yes, and there’s even a little bit of overlap as some of the partners that Widen has had are also Acquia partners. Those relationships will continue, and we’ll look at expanding those through the rest of the Acquia portfolio."
Currently, Widen provides connectors to other platform solutions such as Adobe, Cascade, dotCMS, Jahia, Sitecore, and WordPress. Will Acquia’s competition continue to be supported on the Widen platform?
"Widen has nice integration with those products, and Acquia will continue to support those integrations if that’s what customers require."
In the announcement, Acquia stated that Widen would enable marketers and website builders to create richer and more distinctive customer experiences using Acquia Open DXP. Can you explain in greater detail about this enablement Widen brings to Acquia’s DXP?
"Widen brings the DAM and the PIM into Acquia’s DXP experience, and we will be able to provide a full, content-rich experience for marketers. We’re going to be looking at integrating the Widen products into many Acquia products like Acquia Site Studio, Acquia Campaigns Studio, Acquia Personalization, and the rest of our DXP solution, as well."
Mike Sullivan, CEO of Acquia, stated that Acquia would immediately invest in the accelerated development of the Widen solution. Can you provide details on what sort of accelerated development Mike is referring to?
"Integration development within the rest of the Acquia products will certainly be one of the first areas we will look at, and it will require investment into additional development resources, as Mike was referring to. The investment in additional developers will be in Madison, WI, to support this integration, as well as continuing to support the Drupal integration. Acquia wants to make sure we have the absolute best integration between the Widen products and Drupal."
As recently as 2020, Gartner, the global research and advisory, acknowldeged that there remains mass confusion on what defines a DXP, and I would agree. How does Acquia define its DXP offering?
"Well, I think we all want to try to get to standard definitions right around DXP, and I don’t think Acquia sees it any differently than what Gartner does. We define a DXP as an integrated set of technologies based on one common platform that provides a broad range of audiences with access to information and consistent, best-personalized customer experiences across many different touchpoints. That integrated set of technologies is key for our open-integrated set of technologies."
The question in the title of this article is, is this a good fit for Acquia? The quick answer is yes, in my opinion. The Widen PIM, built on the Widen DAM, is unique in the industry, which should provide Acquia Open DXP a strategic differentiator in the DXP marketplace. But in the long term, that does not always translate into a successful acquisition. The contributing factors in most acquisitions going south over time are usually rooted in culture clashes, partner channel difficulties, and customer dissatisfaction.
Every organization has a unique culture, and part of the recipe for success when acquiring a well-established company like Widen is how well they fit in with Acquia’s culture. Not all of Widen’s 700+ enterprise customers use Acquia’s DXP or Drupal CMS, so the customer and partner channel will need to be well-nurtured along at the outset, or at the very least, have the appearance of business as usual until all the unification wrinkles are ironed out.
Note: The transaction is expected to close in late September 2021, subject to completion of all necessary regulatory approvals and satisfaction of all closing conditions under the definitive agreement.