Like dying celebrities, mergers and acquisitions seem to come in threes, so we’ll call this one number two after Ex Libris (I predict that number three will happen before the end of the calendar year).
Sagebrush Corporation announced last week that it has sold its library automation division to Follett Software Company, a subsidiary of Follett Corporation. Two of the biggest players in the K-12 library automation market, this is a consolidation of importance to that market, and a more focused direction for Sagebrush Books, Sagebrush Library Services, and Sagebrush Viewpoint, which has rebranded and renamed itself Savia, LLC.
Bob Hebrink is the new CEO of Savia. Margo Osadchuk is senior vice president of operations for the 25 staff who will continue with the newly formed company. “Business as usual” was repeated several times by Hebrink and Osadchuk in a press teleconference held on August 1. Former Sagebrush CEO, Jim Zicarelli will take a seat on Savia’s Board of Directors.
As for Sagebrush library automation and its suite of products–Accent, InfoCentre, Athena, and Spectrum–Follett will acquire all operations, giving the privately held company a clear majority of the K-12 library automation market. In a teleconference similar to the one held by Savia, Follett Software CEO Tom Schenck called reports of a combined market share of 70% “overly generous.” The actual market share will likely be closer to 60%, according to Schenck. Either way, that’s some great market share in any industry.
As is customary with such acquisitions, Follett is not presently announcing any major changes to Sagebrush products, service, or customer support. The one exception is the plan to integrate all support in Follett’s McHenry, Illinois, office. Several employees will relocate, according to Schenck; Sagebrush is currently located in Minneapolis; Savia will remain in nearby Caledonia.
Sagebrush, which acquired competitor Winnebego in 2000, recently introduced InfoCentre. Follett just introduced Destiny Library Manager last year. While there are no immediate plans to deprecate support for InfoCentre or Accent, Schenck was clear that Destiny will be the combined company’s “flagship product.”
Sagebrush is also a SirsiDynix Technology Partner. It is unlikely, however, that Follett will continue to license Accent to customers for whom Destiny is a competitive choice.
Financial details of the deal were not made public. Both Sagebrush and Follett have add-on products, such as metasearch, and enjoyed good sales of both the metasearch and library management software in 2005. Reaction among customers, also customary, is mixed, as indicated by several posts in the LM_Net Archives.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]