Similar but different
Virtual Telecomm, SinglePoint Solutions and SinglePoint Solutions have been a part of the story for years -- even decades.
Both companies competed directly in the Louisville market, offering services like IT advising and cloud-based solutions.
Nic Jones, former president of SinglePoint Solutions, said, "At 10,000 feet, we looked very similar."
In the case of Derby Week, the first would host an event at Churchill Downs on Wednesday for their employees and technology partners; the second, with many of the same providers, would be on Thursday. Both events were held in the Starting Gate Suites at Churchill Downs.
They would also often hang out at industry conferences, avoiding the animosity which is often associated with competitors for the same customers.
Mark White, the founder of Virtual Telecomm, said, "We were all friends and we competed against one another." "That was very rare... I believe a great deal has to do with Louisville, right? We never had any enemies. We knew that we had different client bases, but we also knew that we could work together more.
Jones added: "We were always friendly, but we competed." I have always described them as 'damn near cousins, or competing cousins if you like.
Jones stated that Jones and White will have conceptual discussions in 2021 about what it would look like if they ever merged to form one company.
Jones stated that they both knew Virtual Telecomm would come together with SinglePoint in the market because of their [shared] DNA.
Both companies then caught the same wave - albeit it was a blue one.
Bluewave Technology Group, based in Parsippany (New Jersey), acquired Virtual Telecomm, a company based in New Jersey, for an amount that was not disclosed. This ended a long-term courtship, and White became an ambassador, as well as an equity partner.
White didn't know at the time that SinglePoint was going to be acquired in less than three months, in February. Bluewave had been expanding its national footprint with a mergers and acquisitions game plan, backed by $75 million in capital from Virginia-based Columbia Capital in 2022.
Bluewave announced the acquisition of the SinglePoint Communications Group by Soterra Capital. This was the 10th major acquisition after receiving financial backing. As of today, there have not been any other acquisitions.
White stated, "I've always thought Single Point would make a fantastic merger." It just happened when Bluewave merged. It wasn't planned this way. It was just a coincidence.
Bluewave employs about 20 people in Louisville. Five employees from SinglePoint Middletown, 210 Townpark Circle moved to Virtual Telecomm Jeffersontown, 3410 Office Pointe Place.
White explained, 'We decided to move quickly because their cultures are so similar.
Bluewave currently has approximately 140 employees and around 6,000 clients. Employees and providers are spread across the country. Getting together outside of industry events can be difficult.
Derby Week was one of these times, as many providers flew in red-eye directly from Las Vegas where the Channel Partners Conference & Expo took place.
Bluewave had rented two Starting Gate Suites for the occasion on Thursday. For many, like White and Jones, the scene was as natural as the colorful fascinators that were at Churchill Downs early in May.
Jones had told me in February that Bluewave’s investment, through two acquisitions, would make Louisville a major technology hub. He stood by his words on Thursday with a mint-julep. Bluewave CEO Seth Penland told me back then that he wouldn't be surprised if Louisville had more employees.
Jones said that 'just the amount of talent I think we can retain in our market with regards to cybersecurity' would be a major investment point for companies "in the next 5 to 10 years" if not already.
He said that 'there will be a hub of advisory support here, not just a small part'.
Jones told me as we were about parting ways that he'd bet on the right win-place show results for the second race of the day.
He said, 'I've made $18 today. That's likely to be all I'm going to make.'
After he opened the TwinSpires application, he discovered more good news. A straight winner was revealed, proving that two is better than one.
He added, laughing, that he had only spent $41, and he was now stopping.