Today is the first full day of the Convio Summit. More than 700 people are here in Austin, both clients and partners, to learn about what Convio is up to, and to learn from each other about best practices for nonprofits online.
This morning’s keynote address was from Convio CEO Gene Austin. He made an engaging presentation, the highlight of which was his demo of their Facebook application. He started by putting on a baseball hat backwards, saying he needed to get into his Facebook clothes. He then described (in a very funny way) how upset his college-age kids were by being “friended” by their father on Facebook.
I am genuinely impressed by what I am seeing here. The main thing for me is the level of transparency they show in terms of issues. Gene Austin talked about issues they had this summer with their infrastructure, he talked about their “patient investors” and the IPO as a way to reward them in addition to being fuel for further grown, and he talked about the GetActive merger in a very transparent way, admitting that some things were good from Convio and some things better from GetActive and that it took a couple quarters for them to figure out where they were taking it.
The biggest buzz here is about the API and the initiative they call Open. “The proof” of the success of the Open initiative, Gene Austin said, will be 12-18 months from now — when we see what people are doing with it. The other thing he did that was interesting was take a big swipe at Blackbaud. He said, “we got religion” on the issue of openness. Our product can stand on it’s own and we are confident. Blackbaud, in contrast, wants you to only use their products and only live within their system. “We don’t think that’s good for the environment.”
In addition to conections to Facebook, they have built connections to Raiser’s Edge (without the benefit of a Blackbaud API). They have also built connections to Flickr, a Plaxo tool for importing contacts and Salesforce. He described how much easier it was to work with Salesforce, with a published API, than to work with Blackbaud.
More to come from the Convio Summit 2007
As a Blackbaud user I’ve seen a lot of comment recently about Blackbaud’s API or lack thereof. Have you seen http://labs.blackbaud.com/ ? Do other players do more than this?