Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kronos' Acquisition of API Healthcare Is Only Good for Kronos

It was announced on February 7 that Kronos would acquire API Healthcare. This is not good news for anyone but Kronos. It is not good for API employees. It is not good for API customers. I suppose it may be good for Kronos customers in the short term but that remains to be seen.

Who Am I
Who am I to talk you ask? A former API Healthcare employee. I worked there for three years-two years under the original ownership and one year under Francisco Parterns' ownership. I liked working there. I had great coworkers. The management was professional. The company had drive. It was a trifecta for happy employees. The only reason I left was because after meeting my life partner, we decided to start a new life together in Chicago. Unfortunately, Francisco Partners has sold everyone out, in my opinion.

Why This Is Bad
So what's so bad about this? API Healthcare has had a laser focus on the healthcare industry. Everything they make is custom engineered for medical professionals. This means there are no half-ass solutions that try to maximize profits by stretching a single product across multiple industries. Don't get me wrong, the proverbial death of two birds with one stone is a good thing. Healthcare is such a unique industry though. The pay rules for nurses and other support staff  can be so convoluted. Government regulation is extensive and it varies wildly from state to state. This is a 24/7/365. To be a leader in this field, you need a laser focus.

Kronos has been trying to acquire API for as long as I know and certainly longer. API has been Kronos' biggest competitor. Kronos has solutions for a multitude of industries. And of course, their healthcare division simply doesn't have the precision of API. Because of Kronos' size though, they have a respectable market share despite their inferior product.

I would bet money that API employees are going to lose their jobs. Once Kronos gets their hands on the software, they're going to rip it apart, reverse engineer it, and shove it into their own product. They'll only keep API employees around to execute the carnage.

I would also bet money that API customers aren't going to be happy with the results. Kronos still will not have the laser focus. The product is going to get dumbed down and exploited and it's not going to work as well or have the same drive for improvement. Additionally, nothing good ever comes when competition goes away. Sure, there are a handful of other companies in the market but they're peons compared to what's to come. But it's not like Kronos is adding new solution to their portfolio, they're just eliminating the chief competition. Competition has forced both API and Kronos to keep raising the bar. There's no need to do that anymore. Hospitals will be backed into a corner and forced into using a shoddy product because there will be no other choices.

Please Prove Me Wrong
I hope to be proven wrong but I just don't see any silver lining to this. There's one last thought that I want to express. When Francisco Partners bought API from Luis Garcia, they were quite vocal about how they bought companies as long-term investments. They've only had API for two years, which is not very long. I wonder how long Kronos and Francisco have been in negotiations...

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