Way back in 2009, the Great Recession hit America. And it didn’t pass me by.
In case you don’t remember how bad things were, let me refresh your memory: Bear Stearns failed. Lehman Brothers failed. Merrill Lynch sold for next to nothing. Countrywide Mortgage sold for pennies on the dollar. AIG had to be propped up by the federal government. General Motors went bust, was put on life support thanks to the federal government. People were worried. They wondered whether they would go to the ATM one day and no cash would come out because their bank had failed.
And me? I was at a startup called PV Powered. We were developing the next generation of commercial and utility grade solar inverters. We had about 100 angel investors and we were burning $750,000 a month when the Great Recession hit despite as much bootstrapping as possible. The next thing we knew, 98 percent of the investors had backed out, equity stake be damned, announcing they would no longer support the company. And who could blame them?
As the incredible success of private equity over the past couple decades has made clear to many aspiring company owners and investors, if you can find and acquire a decent company, it’s possible to earn great returns.
This has fueled a new class of individuals seeking to launch their own search funds. What exactly is a search fund and how do you become successful at it?
We talked to Stephen Meade, founder of TheBullsEyeGuy.com, who shared his expertise in a cryptocurrency 101 tutorial. In this beginner’s guide, he explains what cryptocurrencies are, explodes some myths about what they’re good for and helps you understand how you may use them to manage your business in the future.
Let’s dive in.
InterimExecs founder Robert Jordan learned early the tremendous weight an entrepreneur must bear: “When you own the company, it’s nothing like being an employee,” he writes in exploring the sacred trust of ownership. “You might as well compare lifting up a hundred pound weight versus a feather.”
Jordan, who founded his first small business at age 26 and “hit every speed bump you could possibly think of, and then a couple more just for creativity points,” has learned a lot along the way. Among the most important lessons: while business exit planning is critical, it is usually neglected – at the owner’s and board’s peril.
He believes that an economic downtown is coming because, he says, the way “governments have been printing money” to fight the pandemic is “just not sustainable.” That means the cash small business owners need to survive could dry up quickly.
And that, in turn, will lead to wave of mergers and acquisitions, he believes, making it all that much more important for a company’s management team to add “crafting an exit strategy” to their business goals.
Avram Miller, a well regarded Silicon Valley luminary, has recently published a memoir that chronicles his journey in the world of technology.
It is called The Flight of a Wild Duck, which is how Intel’s CEO, Andy Grove, referred to him because Miller would always chart his own course. This included founding Intel Capital, which became the most successful corporate venture group, and playing a leading role in the creation of residential broadband.
The book is full of interesting stories of key figures in the tech world and well as important lessons.
“For private equity funds, the clock starts ticking the second you sign, the second you own your new portfolio company. So the Holy Grail is: how do you add superior value?” That’s how InterimExecs CEO Robert Jordan helped kick-off a recent panel about adding value to portfolio companies. Sponsored by InterimExecs and hosted by Private Equity Career News publisher David Toll and John McNulty’s Private Equity Professional, panel experts shared best practices for value creation.
On the panel were Jordan, Micah Dawson, vice president of Portfolio Support at Trivest Partners; Pericles Mazarakis, managing partner of TriSpan; and Mike Zawalski, an InterimExecs RED Team member who serves in executive chairman roles with PE backed portfolio companies. Here, we round up the top insights from the panelists, everything from the importance of monthly operation reports to establishing trust with the business owner and investing in human capital.
The COVID-19 pandemic and global economic lockdown has seen merger and acquisition (M&A) activity plummet. From $3.9 trillion in global takeovers in 2019, announced deals plunged 51% in the first quarter in the US according to Refinitiv. Uncertainties in the business and capital markets have led to buyers delaying or cutting back on their acquisition plans. But with crisis comes opportunity. Those able to navigate the new risk landscape may find compelling deals on the other side of the pandemic. Now more than ever, expert help with strategic planning, modelling out “what if” scenarios when the world frees up from lockdown, and preparing better for post-acquisition merger integration can help owners succeed in acquiring or being acquired.
U.S. Banks are growing concerned — if not alarmed — and are reevaluating just how lax they are when it comes to handing out commercial loans. With sour loans on the rise, that’s not a pretty picture for companies that rely too much on credit lines or commercial loans. This is, in essence, a self-imposed business risk, as they are more dependent and susceptible to any fluctuations that occur.
A recent Financial Times article reported that non-performing loans increased by 20% at ten large commercial lenders. How much of an impact is that on the bank industry exactly? According to the Financial Times analyst, that’s a hefty $1.6B in the first quarter alone, a significant shift from credit quality since 2016, an era where the dust had settled from crashes and subsequent defaults on loans. The future started looking bright. Lending portfolios and credit quality began to improve.
With merely three years of positive momentum, fast forward to present day and all that has changed and not for the better. “Since most businesses utilize a credit line or other commercial loans, any slowdown will impact all types of commercial lenders – banks, asset-based lenders and factors,” said Yoav Cohen, an interim executive who has spearheaded eight turnarounds and liquidations, each one successful in paying off secured lenders in full. Cohen has seen it all, serving in roles as varied as interim CFO, COO, and a Chief Restructuring Officer.
IT department leaders are usually left out of the early M&A meetings during the pre-merger or pre-acquisition phase. “IT systems integration” discussions do not include IT managers until it’s too late. This phenomenon is all too common when it comes to understanding the full scope of IT priorities and what each organization brings to the tech table to ensure successful M&A experience for employees and customers.
According to the 2018 Deal Value Curve Study,only 19% of M&A professionals surveyed believed there was sufficient due diligence on IT systems and assetsbefore a merger or acquisition. This pitfall may stem from the fact that decision makers do not fully grasp the complexity of IT. Worse yet, they may fail to realize just how dependent the organization’sbusiness goals are with IT systems.
Surprisingly, IT system integration is not top of mind during M&A discussions. That’s detrimental for two reasons:
In a merger or acquisition, discord of company cultures and disparate systems can cause the demise of a once-promising partnership. About 70% of acquisitions fail when post-acquisition results don’t meet pre-closing expectations. Many of these M&A failures are caused by poorly executed integration.
What’s surprising is that M&A failures are avoidable with careful integration planning and strategic post merger integration. Pre-acquisition, it takes a lot of forethought on how company cultures might clash and how their systems will integrate. Post-acquisition, it takes a ton of strategic elbow grease to rapidly align systems (and eliminate some), retain productive employees, keep customers, and make stakeholders happy.
First-year Change Agent members have access to the Interim Institute’s 4 hour audio program on the Fundamentals of Interim Management, and a one-hour strategy session to help jumpstart their interim career.
*$200 additional charge for Accelerator Program only applies for first-year members. After the first year, membership renews at $485/year.
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