Mike Gianoni, Blackbaud CEO, on this year’s inspirational bbcon keynote speaker

Mike Gianoni, the CEO of cloud computing provider Blackbaud, is leading the company’s preparations for its annual bbcon, set for September 24- 26, 2024.

The three-day convention in Seattle, Washington is a top-tier event with over 1,000 social impact and non-profit professionals in attendance, in person and remotely. This year, bbcon will welcome Emmy award-winning actress and nonprofit leader, Sheryl Lee Ralph as its keynote speaker.


Gianoni explained that Ralph embodies the same commitment to social impact that bbcon and Blackbaud promote. “As a fierce advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and action, Sheryl Lee Ralph has so much to share about translating personal passions for impact, motivating for change, and leveraging her own influence and network for positive results,” Gianoni said.

In an ever-changing technological landscape, Blackbaud is the leading provider of  software powering social impact.  As CEO, Gianoni has been steering the company at the intersection of technology and social impact by building essential software that accelerates impact through integrated expertise and powerful data intelligence. Throughout his career, Gianoni has brought strong operational expertise and leadership to the tech community, driving value for customers while advancing corporate cultures that encourage teams to thrive.

That is why Gianoni is particularly excited about bbcon 2024 and the list of inspiring keynote speakers that Sheryl Lee Ralph joins from recent years, which has included America Ferrera, Chaunte Lowe, and Simu Liu. “We serve the entire social impact community operating across the globe—nonpro?ts, foundations, corporations, education institutions, healthcare institutions, and the individual change agents who support them,” he says. “Ralph’s leadership and insights are sure to inspire and catalyze their work driving forward a better future for all.”

Mike Gianoni is a veteran IT service executive. What began in a high school engineering class, Gianoni’s interest in technology has evolved to a full-time career spanning industries and many decades. He earned degrees in both engineering and business, and received an MBA and Honorary Doctorate from the University of New Haven.

Consumer Spending Cools Signaling Economic Shift

The post-pandemic consumer spending spree is beginning to slow, as evidenced by recent reports from major U.S. companies like PepsiCo and Delta Air Lines. Both companies have issued cautious financial outlooks, citing increased price sensitivity among consumers.
The post-pandemic consumer spending spree is beginning to slow, as evidenced by recent reports from major U.S. companies like PepsiCo and Delta Air Lines. Both companies have issued cautious financial outlooks, citing increased price sensitivity among consumers.

PepsiCo noted that the pressure of inflation and high borrowing costs have led to tighter household budgets, resulting in more price-conscious consumers. Similarly, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian pointed to lower fare discounting in the domestic market as customers push back against premium pricing.

This shift in consumer behavior is further supported by the latest inflation data, which showed a significant decline in the monthly Consumer Price Index for the first time since the pandemic. While the 12-month index remains above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, it has cooled more than expected.

Despite the slowdown in consumer spending, economists do not foresee an imminent recession. While weakening, the labor market still shows healthy wage growth that outpaces inflation. Analysts suggest the economy may be entering a period of “disinflation,” where price growth slows without triggering a full-blown recession.

As more consumer-focused companies prepare to release their business updates in the coming weeks, the market will be closely watching for further signs of this economic shift and its potential impact on various sectors.

Six Flags and Cedar Fair Merger Creates Largest U.S. Amusement Park Operator

Six Flags has completed an $8 billion merger with Cedar Fair. With 42 parks in 17 states, this partnership creates the largest amusement park operator in the U.S. Rollercoaster enthusiasts are watching closely to understand what the impact will be on the future of these parks. Some anticipate improvements in park conditions, while others fear increased admission costs.

Passionate fans, sensitive to changes in park design and history, worry about losing nostalgic elements. For now, the parks will retain their existing branding and names.

Chris Miller, who runs the Coaster Conquest YouTube channel, is cautiously optimistic, hoping for diverse new rides but concerned about potential price hikes for all-park season passes.

The new entity, Six Flags Entertainment Corp., will be led by Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman. Cedar Fair owns 51% of the company, while Six Flags holds 49%. The merger aims to compete with destination parks like Disney and Universal by leveraging their scale to reduce costs and enhance guest experiences.

Six Flags has faced challenges in recent years, including fluctuating management strategies and a significant stock drop. The merger is expected to provide stability and improved operations. Cedar Fair’s successful management and higher attendance rates offer hope for better service and overall park experience.

Analysts foresee potential benefits such as new season pass options, loyalty programs, and combined intellectual property licenses, potentially leading to exciting new themed rides and attractions. However, some fans worry about losing the distinctive charm of beloved parks.

Anu Saad’s Vision: Leveraging Cancer Data to Save Lives

This article was originally published on January 17, 2014.
Based on the Forbes article from May 29, 2000 entitled: “The Gift of Data”

As CEO of a cancer testing startup, Anu Saad has leveraged her company’s vast trove of patient data to launch a lucrative new business in packaging and selling medical information.

In 1998, Saad provided critical usage insights to Genentech on its new breast cancer drug Herceptin by analyzing her startup’s database of 40,000 HER2 gene test results. This allowed Genentech to effectively target pre-launch marketing, contributing to Herceptin’s blockbuster sales of $300 million in 2000.

Under Saad’s leadership, the startup realized rich opportunities in monetizing its cancer databases. With over 565,000 patient profiles and processing 12% of US cancer screens annually, Saad has signed partnerships with two dozen pharmaceutical firms who pay handsomely for analysis of biomarkers, genetics, treatment outcomes and more. For example, Novartis paid the startup to analyze bone metastasis rates across different cancer types to inform clinical expansion opportunities for its breast cancer drug Zometa.

To expand the startup’s data capabilities, Saad recently acquired two firms – one for clinic data and tumor samples and another for 1.7 million cancer patient records. By pooling these resources with the startup’s internal databases, Saad has developed detailed profiles on over 100,000 patients to better inform treatment and drug development.

While the lion’s share of the startup’s $85 million revenue still comes from core cancer testing services, Saad has overseen over 50% growth in its information services business, already generating $8 million annually. However, Saad stresses that commercialization of data is firmly grounded in achieving the fundamental mission she set out for her company – leveraging medical insights to develop more effective diagnosis and treatments for cancer patients. It is this commitment by visionary leaders like Saad that enables life sciences firms to translate vast data resources into improved patient outcomes. Under Saad’s leadership, her startup has emerged as an information powerhouse that promises to catalyze major advances in cancer care.

Grill Sales Cool as Americans Approach July 4th

As Americans approach July 4th, the grill market is experiencing a cooling trend following the pandemic-era buying surge. Market leaders like Traeger have reported significant declines in sales, with the company’s latest quarter grill sales dropping to $76.8 million from $156.1 million in Q2 2021.

Major retailers, including Home Depot, have noted a drop in the purchase of big-ticket outdoor items, including grills. Local stores are also feeling the impact.

The slowdown is attributed to several factors, including inflated meat prices, high interest rates, and economic uncertainty. Many consumers who purchased grills during the pandemic lockdowns see no need to upgrade their relatively recent acquisitions.

Despite the sales slump, grill ownership remains high. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association reports that 80% of U.S. homeowners owned a grill or smoker in 2023, up from 64% in 2019.

Retailers are employing various strategies to reignite demand, including targeting first-time homeowners with affordable options and hosting cooking demonstrations. However, analysts note that creating demand in a slow-growth industry remains challenging.

While the grill market struggles, the tradition of outdoor cooking persists. The average cost of a Fourth of July cookout for 10 guests has risen to $71.22, up 5% from last year and 30% from 2019. Despite this increase, many Americans continue to uphold their grilling traditions, demonstrating the resilience of this summer pastime.