Tucows Grabs One Boardtown

Elliot Noss, president and CEO of Canadian-based Tucows still sees a lot of activity in the Service Provider (xSP) industry, which is likely why he dipped into the company coffers to acquire software developer Boardtown Wednesday.

The $4 million deal — $3 million in cash and $1 million in Tucows stock — is expected to close in the next couple weeks ($1.75 will get shaved off the price if Boardtown doesn’t meet unspecified performance milestones). Noss told internetnews.com he doesn’t expect anyone to lose their jobs over the acquisition and Boardtown employees will continue to work from their base of operations in Starkville, Miss.

Boardtown software, under its flagship Platypus Billing System 4.0 product, caters to service providers and delivers provisioning, billing and customer care management to the back office.

On the surface, Wednesday’s deal make a lot more sense than its February acquisition of BlogRolling.com, a blog management and tracking service. Boardtown, with 700 active customers and a large presence in the xSP industry, dovetails nicely with Tucows. The company originally started its life in the field as a registrar selling domain names. That’s since expanded to become an Internet services company catering to Internet service providers (ISPs), application service providers (ASPs) and Web hosting companies. The company has more than 6,000 resellers of its product and services line.

“The BlogRolling acquisition was more of what I’d call a tactical marketing opportunity that really complements what we’re doing with blogware,” Noss said. “The Boardtown acquisition is certainly more material, financially; in addition, its really part of a long-term strategic push.”

That push is to more deeply embed the company in the xSP market; a market Noss believes holds a lot of opportunities, despite the waning number of new ISPs in the industry since the mid-1990s. While the future might hold that Boardtown software expand into markets outside the provider realm, he doesn’t have any plans to do so just yet.

Noss wouldn’t delve into expected revenue numbers resulting from the deal, but did hint more details would be revealed in its forthcoming quarterly financial report. For now, the plan is to shore up Boardtown’s current customer base and focus on getting resellers to market the product. Officials expect the merger to create a lot of cross-marketing opportunities for each company, in an industry that still needs billing software.

“Most service providers have challenges in the back office,” Noss said, “and those challenges tend to either impact their ability to provide the best customer care possible, or in terms of their ability to easily deal with changes in the market — whether its new services or a new pricing model. And that constraint tends to push back into the billing system, where it’s still the case that overwhelmingly, people’s solutions are homegrown.”

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