This past February marked one year post-acquisition, which serves as an important milestone for all involved – legally and culturally. Once the acquisition closed, our minds were set on one singular goal – be a successful acquisition. With the failure rate of M&A being, shockingly, somewhere between 70-90%, we were determined to be in the 10-30%. A year in, all indicators point to us having achieved that objective. Our team is largely intact. We have tightly integrated into the greater team and culture. We’ve delivered significant improvements to our customers – in product and other areas. Every executive reflects “it’s hard to imagine Compass without the Contactually team.”
In the hopes of achieving similar outcomes for myself and other founders in the future, I’ve captured some key tactics we implemented in the 365 days post-close.
Tight Alignment: It’s worth pointing out, first and foremost, that a lot of the work was done for us in advance. The years-long prior relationship demonstrated the close (but not perfect) alignment in culture, mission, and values (e.g. high customer-centricity). I’m not going to say that we were completing each other’s sentences, but we’ve generally been able to quickly come to common ground.
Maintain Momentum: One thing we prided ourselves at Contactually was the velocity of our teams – which we could not give up. Second only to having tight alignment going into the acquisition, we did our best to “get back to work.” The hardest transition was in the first couple of weeks, when many felt it no longer “made sense” to work on what they were working on previously. We quickly identified initial projects for everyone to take on once they had completed their onboarding. Looking back, what they worked on was less relevant than giving everyone purpose and maintaining our operational momentum.
Information Sponge: All senior leaders took it upon themselves to read as much as we could find out there (not much, hence this article) about post-acquisition strategies.
100 Day Plan: We put a lot of emphasis on what the first 100 days looked like, and in monthly increments, addressed things like:
- Overall strategy that month
- Key results
- Major activities performed by parent and acquired teams
- Swimlanes for each department
Close Communication: We identified the key parties for both us and our new parent company, and set up recurring meetings and a private Slack channel. Using the 100 Day Plan as our primary organization tool, we aligned on what we needed to do, and were quick to highlight issues.
Identify Sponsors: The “deal team” was no longer as relevant once everything was signed. We quickly identified the sponsors we would be working with, and the roles each of them played. Some we worked closely with on the roadmap, for example – while others came in handy unblocking issues we encountered or advocating for us internally.
Over the past year, I’ve mentored a handful of founders who were navigating similar acquisition + post-acquisition challenges. Happy to help you!