Kony’s Deal with Umpqua to Acquire Pivotus Ventures Was Aided by ‘Cultural Affinity’

© Can Stock Photo / NomadSoul1

Umpqua Holdings Corporation’s deal to sell its subsidiary Pivotus Ventures to the Austin, Texas-based software firm Kony, announced on Oct. 23, took several months to develop.

That’s not a long time in the world of financial services acquisitions, and the deal was aided by a cultural affinity between the companies, according to Jeffery Kendall, senior vice president and general manager of Kony DBX, the company’s financial services arm.

The Portland, Ore.-based bank, which holds about $25 billion in assets and is known for its innovative approach to the customer relationship, sold its software subsidiary shortly after it released its first product, which was a customer support tool called Go-To, formerly known as Engage.

Kony, based in Austin since 2015 but founded in Orlando, Fla. in 2007, has about half its business in financial services. “This is the first acquisition we’ve made in the business,” said Kendall.

“It was an interesting turn of events,” Kendall said in describing how the deal came about. Kendall was impressed by a demo of Go-To at a conference in June and met with Umpqua’s chief strategy officer, Rilla Delorier.

“I was blown away by the story and by the Go-To application,” he said. “I shared with her our view on digital. I said I was blown away by what they were doing and that I’d be interested in acquiring that technology. They were not shopping the asset, nor were we looking for something to buy, but it just made so much sense. So that is how the conversation came about.”

Kendall told Bank Innovation the deal was done by mid-October, so it took just four months to come about. He went on to describe a “cultural affinity” between Kony and Umpqua. One of Kony’s tenets, Kendall said, is to build products in concert with partners. One recently launched product, a consumer lending platform, was created in partnership with four credit union customers. Collaboration was central to Pivotus as well. The company, with a development team of around 35 people, also brought together several banks to develop Go-To.

Going forward, Kendall said Kony would offer Go-To — to be renamed Kony DBX Engage — in three forms:

  1. The standalone app, which Pivotus also offered
  2. Embedded in apps built by Kony DBX
  3. An API-driven solution to be embedded in existing solutions.

Kendall said he was also drawn to Pivotus’s unique story. “It was part of how Pivotus was started,” he said. “Umpqua knew they were creating interesting products and could do something special in digital. They developed a number of products. Go-To/Engage stood out as having commercial viability on its own and they got it ready for production. It shows where innovation can come from – it’s not just outside the bank. Banks can create very market-driven solutions.”

Kony has approximately 100 financial institution partners, roughly 30% credit unions and 70% banks.

  Like This Post