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University Web Developers

G'morning, all! So, what with the posting of this story on Inside Higher Ed about the potential demise of Embark, things have started to get a little bit hectic around NYU Steinhardt. We use Embark for all of our undergraduate and graduate admissions application, as well as all of our prospective student e-mail marketing.

We started to have some communication difficulties with Embark in December, but the system was still working, so I didn't think much of it. But now, are a bit bleaker... They've got our data seemingly held hostage and we can't access it to run reports or send out e-mail campaigns. Fortunately, all of our application data is thoroughly backed up... But new prospect data comes into the system every day and its extremely time-sensitive. None of the data reports are working in our account and we can't even seem to get someone on the phone.

Assembled notes from some colleagues who have managed to get through to Embark:

  • After laying off a number of employees they are at 32. Which I understand is where they were before Princeton (owner previous to MRU).
  • MRU, the parent company has filed bankruptcy and it is up to the courts to decide who owns Embark.
  • I've tried to call our account manager, but the phone rings busy so left a message with the VP of Client Relations.
  • Someone spoke with one rep who could not give a solid answer of what happens if Embark files for bankruptcy. When asked if there would be time to gather data in the event Embark closes their doors, the Embark rep responded "we hope we can give you time."

Anyone else experiencing similar woes with Embark? I'm meeting with Admissions Officers and Deans tomorrow to develop a game plan... Just wondering if anyone else would be interested in commisserating/sharing ideas.

Cheers!

PS. In researching I found this and this, blog posts by a former Embark employee who was laid-off from the company in what seems like a slaughter. Also, here is the bankruptcy filing for MyRichUncle (may they rest in pieces)

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Just heard back from Embark via e-mail about a bug I was encountering... Good to know that at least there's someone manning the ship. If I learn anything else at my meeting today, I'll post here. I surely can't be the only one dealing with the potential fallout from this. :-)
Catching up slowly with this story following a rather panicky message from our Admissions team yesterday. We're having that meeting this afternoon to answer the question of what we can do if it all stops working ....

Will keep you posted.
Great to hear from another webmaster on this issues, Simon! Of all the schools using Embark at our institution, we seem to be the only one that's actively concerned about what would happen if Embark suddenly disappeared, but we're also the only one's using Embark to communicate with prospective students.

Our current plan is to do our best to ride things out with Embark, as far as admission applications go. We're under contract for another year and we don't want to overreact and take action out of panic or unfounded worries. Hopefully, Embark will have enough capital to stay in business and keep serving its clients... My understanding is that they are actually quite solvent on their own. But if MRU was skimming the profits off of Embark to fund a bunch of shady loans, then there could be some severe industry-wide fallout (I'm not claiming this is true... Just imagining worst case-scenarios).

In the meantime, we're doing some due diligence and talking to some other vendors. RIght now the only other Industry-leader seems to be Apply Yourself (AY), but I'm also suggesting that we take a look at TargetX's SRM (never seen it in action, but I like their style).

We want a replacement system "shovel ready" in the event that something bad DOES happen. Fortunately, our admission season is essentially finished (with some straggling masters/doctoral programs here and there).

But our recruitment season never stops... And losing access to the Embark Prospect Manager would do a real number on us. I'm also evaluating the e-mail marketing vendors that have been mentioned various times on this forum and in numerous bloghighed posts.

In other news... The people at Embark seem to be responding to my e-mails regarding technical glitches I encounter (an all-too-frequent happening). Its good to know that there ARE people still working on improving and supporting their project, despite their recent mass-layoffs.

Good luck and I hope your meeting goes well... Let us know if you hear anything.
More new news! Just got the following tidbit from someone at a higher-level of the administration at the University:

I’ve contacted Embark and talked with our Account Rep... he has informed me that Embark is under new ownership and that a press release is expected to go out today or early next week.

So, quite possibly some good news... Unless its being bought by Yahoo. :-P
For those looking for other vendors, I would suggest looking at CollegeNet. KU is a client and has been for about ten years and its been great. The product is robust, but simple enough for the basic user. We can have anywhere from 4 to 60 users in at once, with getting billed by the seat (no names mentioned here). Good luck to those with EMBARK...hope it works out!
More news on the Embark front... One of the folks in our admissions office got word from people at Embark today. They're going to be sending out a press release that contains a full announcement this week... I don't know how much is still private information, but it won't be soon. In a nutshell: The "Longview Marquis Master Fund" has become the sole owner of Embark. The Longview Marquis Master Fund is managed by "Summerline Asset Management, LLC".

Anyone know anything about these companies? A super quick Google top-10 search didn't reveal much...

More as it develops.

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