Reasons why looking to a company’s past can show their test innovation future
  Mai 24, 2021

At SmartBear we have a vision for improving the lives of developers, and adding quality into the software development supply chain – no matter where in DevOps maturity an organization sits.

We’ve seen a lot of success in this effort, and no small part of it involves the way we manage our acquisitions and invest in their development teams. This is true for software solutions like Zephyr, TestComplete, and ReadyAPI, as well as our innovators behind OSS projects, like Cucumber.

Embrace your talent

There’s been a lot of growth and consolidation in the market for DevOps tooling. And of course, SmartBear has been a participant in both build and buy motions. We just added BugSnag to the portfolio two weeks ago. To see how much value we put into expanding the SmartBear family is evidenced by how many founders have chosen to stay on with us.

Rather than being a problem, they saw it as an opportunity to continue their innovation cycles and drive roadmap and progress. For further evidence, check out our video series “SmartBear Founders”. It covers not only how our incredible developer founders have entrusted us with (what is for many) their life’s work but have joined us on our journey and become SmartBears!

In fact, now that we are hitting the one-year anniversary, here is a good example: We acquired the tool Test Management for Jira – now Zephyr Scale – and followed it up by doubling the size of the developer team. That, plus working closely with the developer founders, led us to create the best test management integration to Cucumber in the business. In keeping the founders, supporting open source software, and making innovation possible, we deliver higher customer value and grow as a company overall.

Imitation is the greatest compliment – one hopes

Last week we saw one of our marketplace competitors get bought by a firm who are following our lead. They, too, are expanding their test management footprint with a family of solutions. But what seems like strategy imitation could also be that they see problems with their other acquisition and may be looking to consolidate. Either way, it now (or in the near term) presents a decision point for customers given the acquirer’s history of aggressively handling of teams, and in their approach to product investment.

I say “aggressive,” as managing expectations and controlling costs are a good part of every successful business. But it can be overdone, and when this happens, support experience suffers, and innovations slow for the customer. To an unacceptable degree.

For the acquirer who has taken this approach on more than one “key learnings” occasion, it is a calculated risk and sometimes pays off. This is true when switching costs are high and the market doesn’t demand a lot of new innovations.

However, both conditions are untrue in the cutting edge, developer-led, easy “try & buy” tools world. Why then would it be repeated? There are a few reasons.

First, even when it hits users directly, impact from clients choosing to leave is often delayed. Additionally, the acquiring companies are sometimes motivated by financial reason that may not allow them to invest in their products as a primary business objective. For our users, switching costs are real – affecting finances, productivity, and sometimes creating a skills gap frustrating to teams hard at work. Finally, and likely the largest contributing aspect making this risk worth it for the buyer, is that those developer and QA professionals feeling the pain often do not have control of the tool’s purchase budget.

Track records count – just ask Travis CI

In reading the metaphorical tea leaves as to whether Xray will experience these issues, one can look to the acquisition track record to see if the path predicts for good. My take is that the industry has already seen what happened to previous Idera acquisitions, Ranorex and Testrail.

For the latter, the question for customers will be whether this development delivers an accelerated adverse impact to their systems and tool stacks given the potential overlap. For both, we’ve heard the frustrations from their customers.

Ultimately, there’s no better indicator for the developer community-at-large than what happened to Travis CI after it was acquired. The subsequent issues from mismanagement, and then various cost cuts, culminated in the sudden, untimely end to their highly successful OSS project just a few months ago.

All things being equal, try Zephyr

In fairness to all, consolidation is a reality of the tech market space. Anyone who has been in the business for any length of time knows that products are often acquired, and it can be good or bad. Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on who is building your productivity solutions.

If you are thinking it might be time to look around for a new tools vendor for agile test management, check us out with a free trial. If you are a past Zephyr customer and find you are on the wrong solution, we want to help you come back. Stay tuned for more details or feel free to reach out.

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