Gilbane Acquired by Analyst Firm Outsell
One of the most known analyst firms -- the Gilbane Group (news, site) -- has been on the research and consulting market since 1987. Today marks another historical point for the firm – their acquisition by Outsell, Inc., a younger analyst company that was founded in 1998. The transaction between the two started at a breakfast meeting one day and has been in discussions for the past 5 years. We talked to Frank Gilbane, who gave us some insight into the merger.

Who is Outsell

Never heard of Outsell, Inc? It’s a research and advisory firm for the information and publishing industries with offices in Burlingame, CA, and London, UK, and customer base full of C-level folks.

How Gilbane and Outsell Come Together

Outsell is about 10 times bigger than Gilbane as an organization, but the brand is not very known. Hence, no wonder that Gilbane is staying as brand.

The firm is also bigger in the media and web publishing space. About 70% of their business is selling information to publishing and media companies. Gilbane, on the other hand, majors (for about 70%) in selling information and consulting services across all types of enterprises, and only 30% is focused on the publishing business.

Similar to Gartner, Outsell’s business model is classic subscription advisory services with about 80% of business falling into this bucket, and the rest is being done in the area of custom strategic consulting. Most of Gilbane’s business comes from custom consulting.

According to Gilbane, the two firms complement each other, with Outsell focusing on business information, and Gilbane’s focus on content management technology. Together, they will provide everything about information, both its usage and surrounding technologies.

Under one umbrella, the joint headcount will be around 50, including full-time and contractor analysts on both sides. Gilbane's HR and finance personnel will be trimmed down and merged with Outsell.

How Customers Are Affected

Gilbane says customers will not see any difference in how Gilbane will operate from now on. Having access to Outsell’s research will be useful to Gilbane customers, he adds. So far, Gilbane customer reactions have been a la “business as usual.” Some of the common customers (there are about 3 of those) are probably on the even happier side.

Gilbane is expecting that some customers may think there will be a change of focus from web content management technologies, but he doesn’t foresee that.

What Changes

Initially, we are told not much is going to change. More integration between two organizations may come later.

One of the most visible changes will be new business cards for the Gilbaners, which will from now on say “The Gilbane Group, a division of Outsell, Inc.” Frank Gilbane remains the president.

The Gilbane conferences -- Gilbane Boston and Gilbane San Francisco -- are not changing, with the only exception that we will probably see more Outsell analysts as speakers and panelists. Gilbane also mentioned that they may beef up the publishing technology conference track.

For Gilbane, this transaction is a way to grow faster. As its founder notes, they have been doing everything organically. Therefore, the biggest challenge has been to keep up with a number of inquiries they get. Outsell’s sales people will step in to work on business development initiatives.

Among other recent consolidations in the research industry we’ve seen lately, the Gilbane acquisition is nothing alarming, but rather expected.