One of the biggest challenges facing Quorum CEO Alex Wirth following his company’s acquisition of advocacy tech rival Capitol Canary: getting the word out.
The newly formed company has some 2,000 clients and 10,000 users, some of whom simply access the company’s tools like its PAC management software (CisionPAC), and don’t have day-to-day contact with its 336 team members.
“I’ll run into people out in Washington who still don’t know we acquired CisionPAC nine months ago,” Wirth told C&E. “We’re going to have our team out on the streets in Washington.”
Once the dust settles on the deal and the advocacy community has a chance to absorb the news, they’ll find a full-service provider capable of helping launch grassroots campaigns that deliver messages targeted to the next congress or track legislation moving through the Capitol or state legislatures across the country, according to Wirth.
The deal was analogous to a big fish getting swallowed by an even bigger fish. At the end of 2020, Capitol Canary, then known by its original name, Phone2Action, acquired KnowWho, “the world’s largest directory of public officials and influencers,” and legislation tracker GovPredict. Both moves were fueled by Phone2Action’s link up with Frontier Growth, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm. But it was IKONA Partners, a technology-focused boutique investment bank, that assisted Capitol Canary with the deal with Quorum.
While bankers made the deal go through, it was the longstanding relationship that Wirth had with Jeb Ory and Ximena Hartsock, who co-founded Phone2Action in 2013, that opened the door to an eventual tie up with Quorum, a software company which is a leader in legislative tracking.
Conversations about a deal started in May and the two companies signed a letter of intent in July, which kicked off the deal making process that just wrapped. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. “We know this is a huge combining of forces,” said Wirth.
Ory will join Quorum’s board of directors.
Existing clients will see no change to Capitol Canary’s Phone2Action platform, but Quorum plans to eventually retire the GovPredict platform and migrate users over to its legislative tracking software.
Following his company’s acquisition of CisionPAC nine months ago, Wirth explained, “it was a natural fit to also bring in the number one provider of messages to Capitol Hill into the Quorum platform.”
The growth strategy for DC-based Quorum was based on the playbook run by Adobe and Salesforce, which have come to dominate their verticals through acquisitions.
“You needed to provide everything and if you could provide it [clients] were interested in expanding their relationship with the company,” Wirth said. “We have realized that same thing. Our customers are asking for more and more. We needed to continue to add and expand. It ends up as a competitive differentiator.”
Now, Quorum will also be able to deploy its combined resources into research and development of new tools, specifically around gamification of activism and turning activists into donors and vice versa. “It’s all about integration,” he said.
Wirth also wants advocacy technology to play catch up with other industries.
“I think advocacy tech is still very much catching up to marketing tech and even political campaign tech,” he said, noting that tools like A/B testing emails are newer innovations in advocacy.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated both Jeb Ory and Ximena Hartsock will join Quorum’s board of directors. Hartsock is not joining the board.