Post-Acquisition Strategies in Tech Companies

Just a brief note on an interesting trend I am seeing with some of my technology partners …

  • Virtela, an international telecom / data services provider out of Denver, CO was recently acquired by NTT, a massive ($130B) international presence. At our business review meeting last week, we were assured that NTT intends to leave Virtela alone, to operate very much as they have in the past. “NTT bought our people, processes, and services as much as a customer base”.
  • Last fall, we had very much the same conversation with hybris, an eCommerce platform provider that was purchased by SAP. Pre- and post- acquisition, our partners at hybris communicated very clearly – and have demonstrated to date – that SAP did not intend to make massive changes in how hybris worked with us. I wasn’t worried too much; we also work with SuccessFactors (acquired by SAP in 2012), and I have not perceived a customer-impacting SAP influence with that firm either.
postacq
Click to enlarge …

Of course, there are different reasons why companies make acquisitions – if you are buying technology, a customer base, distribution access, etc, then it probably makes sense to look for synergies – and I as a customer would want that, expecting lower costs and more services. On the other hand, when companies acquire to get access to new markets or extend their service portfolios, the “hands off” approach makes sense.

This may be a new way of thinking in the tech world; Cisco was the subject of a classic Harvard Business School case study on the post-acquisition integration process, and I saw the SAP acquisition of OutlookSoft to be much more Cisco-like – assimilate the technology, change the market approach, etc. But it’s not really that unique in the wider world – my own company acquires great businesses and then works to support their growth. I know this approach can work, and I’m optimistic that Virtela and hybris will continue to be great partners.

It will be interesting to see what happens to AirWatch with VMware

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.