by Michael Shapiro | January 13, 2012
Execs from Active Network and StarCite were on hand in San Diego at PCMA's Convening Leaders this week, eager to provide both background information and a big-picture view of what role the combined company can play in the industry. As I promised in my previous post, here are some more details.
First off, it seems StarCite made the initial move on Active. As StarCite president and CEO Greg Dukat described it, he called Active's execs a couple of years ago to see if they might be interested in selling off the corporate event piece of their business. Active declined, saying the company had plans for that division (of course, that corporate business, together with StarCite, has now been spun off as Active's Business Solutions division). For its part, Active resumed the conversation when word went out about StarCite seeking investors. Each company saw the potential in leveraging the other's complementary services and technology.
The upshot, explained JR Sherman, senior vice president and senior general manager of the new division, is that Active will now be able to aggregate event spend across all of a client's events, including the marketing costs for smaller events that typically might not be addressed by procurement. StarCite definitely has seen a demand for that, admitted Dukat, as many customers wanted to aggregate data StarCite previously couldn't pull in. A couple of consultants echoed that experience, referring to clients who had been frustrated by the fact they couldn't easily see the whole spend picture for the purposes of their SMM programs. StarCite and Active had about 11 customers in common previously, added Dukat, and said those clients are particularly excited about the integration.
Obviously, that overlap is a minuscule percentage of the newly combined company's overall customer base. (Active already has 47,000 customers.) That means Active can take its time with the integration, said Sherman. For the most part, StarCite customers and Active customers are still two different audiences. That's a reason, too, that for the foreseeable future StarCite's product lineup and name will remain as is.
The technical aspect of the integration shouldn't take very long, as both platforms were designed to integrate fairly easily with other systems. And it won't be long at all before Active will be able to aggregate data across the platforms, even before the technical integration is fully operational, said Sherman.
Although StarCite previously had a sourcing module for smaller events, the integration will open up a much more robust menu of services for planners of smaller meetings, indicated Kevin Iwamoto, StarCite's vice president of enterprise strategy. "Now we'll really have a responsibility to lead the industry," he said, "to find new metrics and measurements and to create new standards and best practices" for a more diverse clientele.

As for personnel changes, Dukat will stick around for a few months to assist with the integration. When that's done, he said, he might join another venture in the industry, but he has no definite plans. Beyond his own fate, Dukat doesn't anticipate any reduction to the StarCite work force. Active, he pointed out, is growing and looking to hire people.