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From the interfolio acquisition report

The Interfolio Acquisition Highly Concentrates the Nascent Market for Faculty Information Systems

Elsevier's acquisition of Interfolio puts the FIS market on the brink of a key regulatory threshold.

7 mins read

Interfolio is the leader in a rapidly emerging category of products known as Faculty Information Systems (FIS), which “[track] all aspects of faculty data enabling the institution to maintain a single source of truth about faculty members. FIS details [faculty] credentials, careers, teaching and research.”1 As the market analysis firm Gartner noted in 2021, “Point solutions for individual FIS components, such as faculty hiring, have existed for some time. However, the concept of a comprehensive system, built from a set of integrated modules from a single vendor or partnered vendors, is gaining traction.”2

The market for these products is nascent and still in the process of becoming fully formed. Accordingly, market share data in this space is in the early stages of becoming available. One source cited by Gartner, LISTedTECH, provides the following market shares for FIS vendors:3 Interfolio (24%), Activity Insight (Watermark) (18%), Elsevier (18%), SEDONA (13%), “homegrown” systems4 (9%), Elements (4%), Publons (4%), Eprints (3%), and Esploro (1%) with a handful of products with <1% market share.

The variety of firms included by this source highlights the immaturity of the market, with different firms operating from different points of strength, and a more limited number of firms offering a more comprehensive product that spans the spectrum of functionality across “credentials, careers, teaching, and research,” as described by Gartner. From this perspective, Interfolio’s market position is likely even stronger than this market share data would indicate as its FIS is one of the most complete, fully-featured products in the market.

The acquisition dramatically increases the concentration of the FIS market, putting it on the brink of a key regulatory threshold. According to LISTedTECH, Elsevier and Interfolio’s overall market share is now 43%, which is more than the next five commercial competitors combined. Using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), a common measure of market consolidation utilized by regulators,5 the acquisition pushes the FIS market from an HHI of 1,435 to 2,384—less than 5% shy of the 2,500 point threshold described by the Horizontal Merger Guidelines for a market to be considered highly concentrated.6

While this may not have been enough to prompt antitrust enforcers to stop the acquisition, it is a clear illustration of the potential harms to competition, particularly as Elsevier and Interfolio’s combined market share is likely to grow. Reflecting on this consolidation, LISTedTECH refers to Elsevier’s purchase of Interfolio as an “an acquisition that reinforces the oligopoly.”7

Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) for the Nascent FIS Market8,9,10

Company Market Share Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) Pre-Acquisition Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) Post-Acquisition






Elsevier + Interfolio



Activity Insight (Watermark)








"Homegrown" systems


















Market HHI



Furthermore, 2021 data on the adoption rates of new FIS platforms indicate that Interfolio and Elsevier are capturing an outsized proportion of this market as it is emerging—combining for 70% of new adoptions over the past 5 years, with the next closest competitor (Watermark) only capturing 13%, according to LISTedTECH.11

It is important to note that the number of institutions using their own “homegrown” systems represent a potential source of market growth for more mature and/or better funded companies, rather than indicating a low barrier to entry in this market. As LISTedTech notes, these homegrown systems range from “modified content management systems to excel spreadsheets”12 and appear to be what institutions are moving away from—and not the future of the market.

Based on this trend data and the strength of Interfolio’s offerings, it is reasonable to expect that Elsevier will gain further market share post-acquisition. This would push the market’s HHI well-past the 2,500 point threshold for high market concentration, even before accounting for the ways Elsevier could leverage its other product lines to strengthen its position in the FIS market (for example, through bundling FIS products with journal subscription packages).

  1. Gartner, Top Technology Trends Impacting Higher Education in 2021, available at, last visited June 22, 2022. 

  2. Id. 

  3. Justin Menard, Elsevier to Acquire Interfolio, LISTedTECH Blog, Apr. 27, 2022, Note: LISTedTECH provides specific market share percentages for the largest FIS vendors but includes many more in its graph representing the market. Where specific market share percentages are available, we have used those, and for those only represented on the graph, we have approximated the market share data based on the graph. This source was the only market share data we were able to locate for the FIS market and is not limited to U.S. institutions alone. 

  4. Note: These homegrown systems are generally one-off, bespoke systems or sets of tools created by a single institution. 

  5. U.S. Dep’t of Just. & F.T.C., Horizontal Merger Guidelines § 5.3 (2010). (“The HHI is calculated by summing the squares of the individual firms’ market shares, and thus gives proportionately greater weight to the larger market shares. When using the HHI, the Agencies consider both the post-merger level of the HHI and the increase in the HHI resulting from the merger”). 

  6. Id. 

  7. Justin Menard, Elsevier to Acquire Interfolio, LISTedTECH Blog, Apr. 27, 2022, 

  8. Note: This HHI analysis is based on data from LISTedTECH. See note 3. 

  9. Note: While LISTedTECH indicates that Interfolio and Elsevier have a 24% and 18% market share respectively, they specify that the combined entity would have a 43% market share, which is the value used for the post-merger HHI calculation here. 

  10. Note: We have excluded “homegrown” systems from the HHI analysis, because this market share entry does not represent a single player but rather the sum of one-off, bespoke systems developed by an institution for their own use. 

  11. Justin Menard, Why Adopt an Advanced Faculty Information System?, LISTedTECH Blog, Feb. 7, 2021, Note: LISTedTECH does not specify the geographic scope of this adoption data. 

  12. Justin Menard, The Not So New Faculty Information Systems, LISTedTECH Blog, Mar. 30, 2022, 

About the authors

Portrait of Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition

SPARC is a non-profit advocacy organization that supports systems for research and education that are open by default and equitable by design.