Whither goest Mailchimp? Often an email company being acquired leads to abuse handling and opt-in standards declining, and so to an associated decline in reputation and deliverability. So first, let us say this right up front: we ❤️ Mailchimp. And so we have mixed feelings about the upcoming Intuit takeover of Mailchimp. On the one hand, it’s always nice, as a company, when you are recognized for the value you add, and when you are courted and betrothed. On the other hand, generally speaking, when an email company gets acquired, their abuse handling and their standards regarding to what best practices new customers must adhere generally tank (leading to that decline in their reputation with inbox providers (and deservedly so) and sometime even leading to blacklistings (ditto)).
Mailchimp generally has a good reputation in the email receiving industry (i.e. with inbox providers, ISPs, and spam filters and spam filtering services), and so we would hate to see that impacted by this acquisition. It took Mailchimp 20 years to build up the good reputation that they have in the email receiving community; it can take them, or Intuit, or both, fewer than six months to destroy it.
Of course, most of the talk around this has nothing to do with their reputation and associated deliverability, it has to do with the financials, and whether this is a good acquisition for Intuit (and make no mistake, the former is very much related to the latter).
As TechCrunch observes, in trying to make sense of a bookkeeping company acquiring an email marketing company, “Intuit’s QuickBooks service is a well-known product in the SMB space. Presumably Intuit reckons that it can sell more services to its existing small business customers. It still feels like a bit of a stretch, but we presume that the eggheads have come to the conclusion that ensuing corporate synergies will more than compensate for the sticker shock that the deal includes.”
That sticker shock to which TechCrunch refers is the sale price of $12billion. You read that right, that’s “billion”, with a B. Why would Intuit be willing to pay so much for Mailchimp?
According to Ray Wang (Founder of Constellation Research) as quoted in CMSWire, “Intuit is really trying to get back into all aspects of the small business market. They have been focused on the back office, and Mailchimp takes them a bit into the front office. It doesn’t address commerce, it doesn’t address CRM, but it gets them started on the journey to marketing automation.”
Regardless of the “why”, not everyone is excited about the “what”. In addition to email receiving industry insiders getting ready to watch what happens with abuse complaints and spam once the acquisition is complete, it’s being reported that Mailchimp’s own employees are really unhappy (“furious”, even, according to Business Insider), feeling that Mailchimp had promised to never be acquired (apparently $12billion was an offer they couldn’t refuse), or to go public, and promising employees equity which now seems not to be forthcoming, leaving employees out in the cold. It should be noted that this too does not bode well for how the newly acquired company may handle spam complaints and other email abuse, as almost certainly, if this is all true, there will be few abuse employees who will come along with the changeover, and it has always been the Mailchimp abuse employees who have made Mailchimp’s abuse handling worthy of the good reputation they have enjoyed. And, in turn, if Mailchimp’s abuse-handling reputation starts going south, their email reputation and email deliverability will follow.
Of course, most of this is just educated speculation; we hope that Intuit is smart enough to recognize how important these pieces are. As we said earlier, it took Mailchimp 20 years to build up the good reputation that they have in the email receiving community; it can take them, or Intuit, or both, fewer than six months to destroy it.