You can almost set your watch to it: Zimbra's been scooped up again.

The open-source based email and messaging software provider has been acquired by Synacor for $24.5 million. Synacor, based in Buffalo, NY, calls itself the multiscreen technology and monetization partner for video, internet and communications providers, device manufacturers and enterprises.

Zimbra, based in Frisco, Texas, has already been acquired by TelligentVMWare and Yahoo. The buy follows the news earlier this week that Verint acquired Telligent (Zimbra Social) from Zimbra.

This latest acquisition will create the “leading email ISP provider” in the US, according to Synacor officials.

The new company will have 120-plus ISP customers. Zimbra adds hundreds of millions of free and paying users in 135-plus countries. In addition, it brings:

  • 2,500-plus small business customers
  • 900-plus government customers
  • 1,000-plus value added resellers
  • 500-plus hosting partners

A Smart Move

Synacor officials said they will continue the open source version of Zimbra and provide technical support for Zimbra's Open Source Edition (OSE) through its VAR partners.

"Email has been and continues to be important to our internet service provider customers, and has been a double-digit growth business for Synacor this year, driving portal traffic and monetization," Synacor CEO Himesh Bhise said in a statement. "We now have an even more compelling value proposition offering Zimbra's on-premises technology as well as Synacor's managed service solutions and advertising products."

John Webster, a Zimbra product manager and vice president of business development at XMission, a regional ISP that has been providing email and web hosting since 1993, has used Zimbra’s platform since 2007.

Speaking of the Synacor acquisition, he told CMSWire he believes Synacor will be “very committed to the platform.”

“They have been one of Zimbra's largest customers for years so they are now even more deeply vested in the success of the platform and the service provider platform built around the Zimbra ecosystem,” Webster said. “Look at Synacor's executive staff — there are some heavy hitters in the technology sector. Their client base and product portfolio reflects their competency. Owning Zimbra is a smart move for them and makes tremendous sense for the platform.”

Zimbra Fan

As for the Zimbra platform itself, Webster told CMSWire the webmail client changed his life.

“Everything was in a single location, easy to use, easy to find what I needed, and backed by open source so it had predictable keyboard shortcuts which added tremendous usability,” Webster said.

XMission offers hosting as a BSP (Business Service Provider) in addition to Zimbra mail server licensing sales. Webster said Zimbra’s webmail interface is easy to use, and organizational teams can work together easily because Zimbra lets you share everything — email, contacts, calendars, tasks and briefcase.

“Zimbra is built around an open API which lets you build and implement tools around the platform,” Webster said. “It has code transparency, which is a big deal these days, especially for government.”

Areas for Growth

Webster said development on the Zimbra platform fell behind when Yahoo took it over. It made limited progress with VMware, although what VMware worked on was centralized around business usability, he added.

“The lack of chat and presence has been difficult, but that will be included on the next release slated for later this year,” Webster said.

Noting the Telligent/Zimbra acquisition, Webster said the company was committed to improving the platform and made great strides in the right direction with its “Project Always On.” 

“The move towards the end goal with Project Always On has been a bit slower than we hoped," he said. "However we understand why since the new organization had to maintain developers in both the open source and windows camps. We anticipate more efficient and timely focus to the core platform.”

The Zimbra acquisition is expected to close within 45 days.