The privacy technology marketplace is a dynamic space to watch right now, especially with less than a year until the EU General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect. The market is seeing an injection of capital to fund privacy-related solutions and, now, an uptick in mergers and acquisitions, with news this week that "digital experience management" company Crownpeak has acquired "digital governance provider" Evidon.
So far, it's been a busy year for Evidon. It made news in February when it sold browser extension Ghostery to Cliqz in order to focus on business-to-business digital governance. And just last month, Evidon unveiled a new GDPR and cookie law "Universal Consent Platform."
In a phone conversation with Privacy Tech, Crownpeak CEO Tim Vollman and Evidon Co-Founder and CEO Scott Meyer, who will join Crownpeak as president of its digital governance division, discussed the move, their vision for the merger, and what it means for their clients.
Vollman explained that acquiring Evidon builds upon an already robust and versatile platform. Evidon is a "point solution" that fits in well with the Crownpeak platform to form, what he calls, a "holistic experience." In 2015, Crownpeak acquired ActiveSolutions, which featured technology that conducts a quality check for things like user experience, accessibility, and usability of websites before they go live. With the addition of Evidon, Crownpeak will now be able to provide consent management, website monitoring, and compliance solutions for customers.
Tuesday's acquisition by Crownpeak was backed by K1 Investment Management, which touts itself as a midmarket software-as-a-service-focused private equity platform.
"The fit is logical and is great for us," Evidon's Meyer said. "Together, we have more than 500 enterprise clients and the overlap is low right now." He said some big brands use both services, but, on the whole, the acquisition will allow for a lot of cross-channel opportunities.
Meyer also stressed that the GDPR and proposed ePrivacy Regulation will force companies to think beyond the law. "It's not a legal issue," explained Meyer, "it's a user experience issue." The publishing of content and the collection of user data must now fit together seamlessly. Part of maintaining user trust, he said, means making the user experience a positive one.
For current clients of Evidon, things will remain the same. "Nothing's changing in terms of how we are serving our clients," Meyer said. "The people at Evidon and the products are not changing at all. This move makes us much stronger and the connection with Crownpeak enables us to focus on UX, which ultimately is essential for privacy pros." Meyer described how he's seen an evolution in the privacy profession, where the privacy office often now gets a seat at the boardroom table. He said privacy pros are not just protecting the company from legal liability these days, they are helping to maximize their company's user experience as a whole.
Consent management has bubbled up as a top concern among clients, Meyer said. "We made a strategic decision to get the consent piece right," he noted. "And the website monitoring piece adds to that." He conceded that data mapping solutions are in vogue right now, too, but he said Evidon didn't go into the space because they didn't want to be spread too thin. "We see data mapping as a one-time exercise. Many people have already mapped their data flows and are now conducting privacy impact assessments," he said. "And what pops to the top is the data that's collected for marketing and advertising." Organizations want to ensure they have the right consent management solutions in place.
Both Vollman and Meyer pointed out, however, that they are not just trying to tailor to the ad tech industry. Vollman said that much of Crownpeak's business has dealt with the chief marketing officer, but he foresees a more broad use of their technology. Meyer added that Evidon originally started in the ad tech marketplace, but that now forms about 40 percent of its business.
Vollman is confident in what Crownpeak will now offer to clients after acquiring Evidon. "Together, you'll see our functionality at the forefront of the digital experience platform. We'll be the leader," he said.
Meyer added that the move makes for a unique solution in the marketplace. For those interested in learning more, Meyer will conduct a demonstration with a current client this fall at the upcoming IAPP P.S.R. conference in San Diego.
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