We've been following Web CMS vendor Hot Banana for some time now. The little Barrie, Ontario start-up challenged pre-eminent ColdFusion-based vendor PaperThin with a somewhat simpler and very marketing-oriented offering.
Then online marketing roll-up vendor JL Halsey came calling, and Hot Banana agreed to get acquired. A thinly-capitalized former health-care company, JL Halsey was best known for its flagship Lyris e-mail marketing package and ultimately assumed that name. Then, as readers of The Web CMS Report 2008 know, Hot Banana seemed to stall a bit; customers complained of poor support and some internal disarray. Lately we've heard of a couple would-be buyers struggling to get Hot Banana's attention amid rumors of staff turnover and a difficult transition to a SaaS-based delivery model.
Turnover and organizational change are part of life in any software company, but something here is setting off little alarm bells in the back of my head.
You see, roll-ups are tricky: they seem so promising, but "synergies" among different products (in this case, really different companies) rarely pan out, and when it comes time to meet real quarterly revenue numbers, things can get tough. I don't know entirely what's going inside Hot Banana (they won't return our messages), but if you're considering them as a supplier, you'll want to make sure you perform careful diligence first.
Update: 07 August -- a Lyris exec e-mailed us declaring Hot Banana alive and well. We'll offer an update after the company's forthcoming quarterly SEC filing.