Invoke Systems agrees to be acquired by firm


April 24, 2007|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,Sun reporter

Catonsville-based technology company Invoke Systems is expected to announce today that it is being acquired by a Washington state-based technology and consulting firm.

Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

The acquisition is expected to bring new customers to both companies, as well as expanded services to new and existing customers.

Jim Stout, chief executive officer of Invoke Systems, said the acquisition also would likely mean more jobs in the Baltimore area - though he said it was too soon to say how many. Invoke Systems employs about 50 people, including 34 at its Catonsville office. The company also has an office in Redmond, Wash.

"We need to hire people now; it's kind of a continuous situation for us," Stout said. "We have been growing, and I don't see that stopping. We're going to need to continue to grow on both coasts, and wherever our customers take us."

Invoke Systems is being acquired by Ascentium Corp., which is based in Bellevue, Wash., and has offices in Spokane, Wash., Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles. Founded in 2001, Ascentium has about 300 employees. Its clients include Boeing, Dell, Expedia, Microsoft and Starbucks, the company said.

Eighteen-year old Invoke Systems specializes in delivering Microsoft CRM, or customer relationship management software that helps businesses and government better manage their customers. The company's services include working as a consultant for its customers, customizing and deploying the software, and training customers how to use it.

Invoke Systems' customers include The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial company, and the Maryland State Department of Education, Stout said.

"What we saw was the opportunity to actually become the largest national player of Microsoft CRM," said David Kohar, director of customer management and a partner at Ascentium. "It was a huge, huge opportunity to bring two teams together that were culturally the same but have some very complementary skills."

The acquisition will make Ascentium a company with the nation's largest team of workers dedicated to Microsoft CRM, with more than 100 customers and more than 15,000 users, the company said.

"By joining forces with Ascentium, it really helps us expand into West Coast customers in a really powerful way," Stout said. "We do think it's going to bring us new customers in addition to allowing us to provide more services and better services for both of our existing customers."

"This really makes this a national company, so that's one of the big pieces of the puzzle for us," said Kohar.

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