So What is Going On with All the Acquisitions in the Association Space?

February 5, 2021
February 5, 2021 Jamie Notter

If you’re in the association space, you might have noticed a wave of acquisitions and re-brandings happening lately. We, of course, are in the middle of it all, as we fall into both of those categories: Human Workplaces was acquired in late September, and in December we launched our new brand, PROPEL.

And we’re not the only ones going through changes. Our friends at CIMATRI were acquired about a week before we were, and since then, the parent company that now owns both of us has been quite busy—including rebranding themselves as Blue Cypress, rebranding one other Blue Cypress “family” company, and either acquiring or making investments in three additional companies. The most recent announcement—that Sidecar has acquired the Digital Now conference—probably got your attention (we agree; that’s kind of a big deal).

Wait a minute! I’ve never heard of Blue Cypress or Sidecar! What’s going on here?!?!?

I know, I know. It’s all moving very fast. That’s why I decided to write this post to clarify the players and the game plan. To understand it all, it’s critical that you know about the source of all this: Amith Nagarajan.

Amith founded Aptify, a successful AMS software company that was acquired by Community Brands several years ago. Amith is a dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur. He has been starting, owning, growing, and selling a whole host companies over the years, and he plans on owning and growing many more through Blue Cypress. Even before he sold Aptify, Amith was creating new companies in the space, including (which you probably know as the home of the Surge series of virtual conferences) and (an email newsletter provider that leverages machine learning). (“Side” note, is the company that just rebranded as Sidecar!)

Then in 2020, Amith started expanding his operations to include investments and acquisitions. Initially under the corporate name “Association Success Corporation” (now Blue Cypress), he set out to create a family of companies that Blue Cypress owns plus a “partner network” of companies they invest in, all of which are founder-led companies in the purpose-driven space.

Here’s the line-up of Blue Cypress companies, as of today.

“Family” companies (owned by Blue Cypress):

  • Sidecar – “professional development tools a leader needs to grow their career and their purpose-driven membership organization”
  • – (“cutting edge AI to personalize email newsletters”)
  • CIMATRI – (“strategic consulting services focused on safe and appropriate technology adoption and implementation”)
  • PROPEL – that’s us! (“helping associations achieve culture-driven success, growth, and impact”)
  • Tasio(“cutting edge machine learning techniques to uncover deep patterns in member behavior”)
  • BuzzShift – (“a full-service growth marketing agency and business consultancy specializing in creating long-term, sustainable growth for start-up, scaling, and industry-leading e-commerce brands”)
  • Brightfind – your digital experience partner! (“builds websites that turn members into fans… using modern design, best-in-class personalization, and seamless integrations”).

Partner companies (invested in by Blue Cypress)

Wait, is this another round of massive consolidation in the association vendor community???

No, not at all. Every one of the companies above (including us!) remains independently run by its founders. Blue Cypress is not amassing a portfolio of companies to force-merge and sell. They are investing in cool companies that are working to rock the association community’s world. And we, for one, are grateful for the support! All of us will get support and investment that will help us do things we never could have done on our own, and together we will uncover connections and opportunities for collaboration that will unlock new value as well. How cool does that sound?! …Yeah, we agree.

So where do we go from here?

We’ll see. I am sure there will be many more organizations that join the Blue Cypress family, and some of them will have nothing to do with associations. But I believe firmly that the association community will be better because of this endeavor. Now, more than ever, associations need to make a leap—to 2X rather than 2%, expanded impact rather than minimized losses. That’s exactly what Blue Cypress wants to facilitate–and the kind of organizations we want to support.  We’re proud to be a part of this movement, and we’re excited about our future.  



Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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