B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

58: Acquisition: How to Adapt w/ Varun Kohli


Acquisitions: You don’t have to tell everyone. You shouldn’t tell everyone. But what should you do?

On this episode, I sat down with Varun Kohli, Co Founder and Chief Business Officer at MachEye, to talk about surviving acquisition.

What we talked about:

  • Maintaining professionalism during transition
  • Whether it’s more advantageous for startups to be absorbed or remain autonomous
  • The 3 things you should do to discover the most opportunity during transition
  • When to stay and when to run
  • Understanding how to leverage transition from a marketing perspective

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast.


If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, you can listen to every episode here.

You were listening to bb revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated helping software executive stay on the cutting edge of sales andmarketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome tobe. To be a reven new acceleration. My name is onion with you andI'm up today with Varroom Collie, Co founder and chief business so shesaw at mcai. How are you to day, Veron, doing, awesomeand a half. Thanks for asking and thanks for having me here. Absolutepleasure. So I'll to pick today for the episode is acquisition. I'll doout to adapt, which is which is interesting because obviously we've seen a lotsof our clients recently being acquired and so movement following the acquisition. But beforewe go into the conversation, Barron, could you please introduce yourself to audienceand tell us more about you, but also your career in the BTB takeindustry? Yeah, absolutely. Put things for us time, a very proudfather off for and three quarters year old girl. If you ask me,I say for if you ask her she'll say four and three quarters and eleven. Has Been from past twelve years of happy married life, however, andnot even a day passes by without my my wife making fun of me thatI learned how to write code for six years. I do have bachelor's incomputer science and masters in Computer Science, but I wrote code for one yearand switched to the darker side of marketing, and which is what my wife makesfun of, that you lasted one year in engineering and switch to thedarker side. On the work side, I like stealing businesses and working onproblems that have a potential to make a tent in the universe, and onesuch problem that we're working on these days is, then, the Bi space, which is my workplace mark I. It's an Autime, eutonomous intelligence platformwith pickless analytics. So far, people need to know what to a,people need to search, people need to click. We want to take themto the Tesla of Bi world so that,...

...even if they don't know what toask, they still get business intelligence at their finger tips. So that'swhat I do and that's what that WHO I am. That's wonderful, believeit on that. I've got a very similar background to you. So Iwas hours, I am, but law as well, in incuding, andI had I did a degree in coding when coding for six months, absolutelyeighty it went back to do a business could and then I worked in marketingand and now kind of marketing cells. So I don't think is a darkerside. I think is the bright or side, but that's only my opinion. I don't want to get in trouble with your wife, so let's Iwould do that. So very will. Through your career you are part ofseveral acquisitions and that's the reason why we want each two have yawned the podcastto the around the topic on out to adapt fazzolet two to an acquisition,but to mention a few. Actually I will mention them more because it's quitean impressive background. So skake cube being acquired by Simo. Take Iron thoughtacquired by CISCO, Cipher Trust acquired by secure, competing with then became macafee, who then become Intel. So that's that's an interesting one. And thenoxide, which was which was obviously a called by HP in industries like Cybeor security. We know that acquisitions of a recommon, but like any acquisition, it means that a profession, as a professional, you need to beflexible and be open to changes, be open to probably being part of alarge organization in most of the cases, for from from your from your background. So with the acquisition that you've witnessed, which one of the most romastic changeand how did you addapt to it? Yeah, I think I'll probably answerthis in two parts. One is the most number of changes that Iwent through within that acquisition and the second one is more drastic change. Asyou ask, the number one is cipher trust. That is where I switchedfrom engineering to marketing. What had happened was I was actually writing code foran instant messaging security. Think cops lack...

...security in today's world, and thenthe company got acquired. As part of the acquisition, most of the exits, exact, were gone and there was no one to present the solution andI started presenting the solution to customers. Tlee. For me, nine outof ten customers are presented to but the solution, which is why the headof marketing, CMO, walked into my cube and said do you want todo product marketing and I said how do you spell that? And told mea little bit about product marketing and I said I'm not sure if I'll succeedor not, so let me write code and do product marketing. For sixmonths. I'll do both and that six month has not ended yet. I'vebeen still doing a product marketing and marketing. So that was cipher trust. Thebig change was from engineering to marketing and then cipher trust getting acquired intosecure computing, secure getting into macafee, macifing getting acquired by Intel. Sothat was the number of changes. That was the most number of changes.On the DAST change, I would probably mention ORC site. I started atArk site to do product marketing for a person. I reported into this versionand he led product marketing for one of the point product which was twenty milliondollar product. So after a month or two of starting, he said Idon't know if you need me for this, so why don't you run product marketingfor this? So I started running product marketing for that product. Wegrew it from twenty million to eighty million within two hours and then I startedrunning product marketing for a one more product line alongside that one. Fast forwarda year, I started running product marketing for all of Ok site port foryou. Fast forward another year. I octide gets acquired into HB. Istarted running product marketing for all of HBESP and a price security business unit.And then before I left, I actually was there at the Ark side Hbcomebore, interestingly enough, for forty years,...

...five months and since days and startedwith product marketing off at twenty million product line and when I left I wasrunning marketing for a million dollar product line. So I think that was the mostdrastic team I would mention. This are two pretty life changing type ofeven that happened, which is which is absolutely wonderful and thanks for sharing thatwe with us today. From your perspective, and I know that he depends onthe acquirer, but we are some some of our clients being acquired ortred some acquir or speaking to us about the the kind of the delay totake off the autonomy away from the startup, company removed the name, makes ittr etc. So, for example, company a got a quill by companyB and the brand of company a gets removed within amounts or so andeverything is such into company B and Company be does business on the name ofcompany B. From your perspective, how important it is, or is itfor a startups to remain autonomous within a larger group and remain a Gile ofthe velocity of selling the velocity of going to partners, the appetite that startup would out to really get business out. How important is that? An autonomy? From your perspective, I think we should do what's right for thecustomer. In certain cases when, for example, I import was acquired bysirs, so we were the security business unit of CISCOPE. So we createdthat business unit and acquired multiple customers, multiple companies under that security business unit, name mean certain other cases it was completely absorbed. We have to thinkof it from a customer point of view. What is right for the customer?Are they the customers who's going to look at multiple different solutions as individualproducts, or would it be better for customers to combine different solutions into abundle, into a package? In those cases it makes more sense to absorbthe company, join the engineering team come up with new use cases, whichis what we did at semantic. We...

...got acquired as sky cure mobile security, but shortly after we exposed that technology to Norton the consumer side of semanticand so that we could protect not just the enterprise mobile devices but also consumermobile devices. It all depends on what's right for the customer and that's whatI believe we should do as a company. The's a very good marketing on sir, putting the being a very customer centric on sorts of equestion. Ireally like it Verre and from from a mindset cospective. So again, youwill depends from one case to the other, but I'm shot at some points theemployee of a start would know that they may bee I knows our companyare trying to acquire them, or they may know that there is some ofterms being shot between CEOS or whatever it could be, but they may feelthat an acquisition and is your horizon. Okay, so what's your experience ofthat kind of free change? It is before the change, but obviously theremust be some apprension. So how do you, as a management team calledfor the feelings keep the tea motivates it should the acquisition prior to the acquition? Ou Do you see it? enthally? Yeah, I think one of theadvices that we got from board members through one of these transitions was absolutelyon the need to know basis. News needs to be known by people andif you don't need that news to be known, we should not be sharingthe broadly with the whole company. Reason being. Sometimes there is many aslip between the cup and the lip. So you don't have to tell everyone. And then what if it derails? These things? There are always somethingthat can go wrong. What if it derails? Then it kills the motivationfor the employees and they start making up their own stories as to something mustbe wrong. Why did someone not acquire us? So I think unless anduntil it is all baked and ready to be shared, it's probably advisable notto share prebate thing and, as we've...

...seen it multiple times, that thereis due diligence and something gets a found in due diligence. So we justrecently found in the case of semantic. You mentioned all the companies that skykill got acquired into semantic and since we started talking now, Semantica also gotacquired by broadcast. Yea work with nine companies. Eight of them have beenacquired so far, but not that. If we were just talking to eightacquirers, we were probably talking to sixteen or twenty four acquirers and eight ofthem happen. So totally. You should share this information only on the needto know basis and once it is once it is fully big, that iswhen you should share with the broader employee place, and that is what Idid. Believe it or not, in case of Sky Cure, we couldn'tshare with the employees. But this news was supposed to go life on Tuesdayat six am Pacific Time. So I actually went with my wife and mydaughter, then she was three year old, to the office and after work.One of the guys actually used to work late, so I had toask him to work from home that day, like coming up with some reason,and then we walked into the office in the evening on Monday and decoratedthe office with balloons and cake. And that was the only day in mylife when I drank champagne at six am in the morning. It's always eightpm some worlds in the world. So there is there is no time,there is no wrong time to drink champag I would n't courage or just todrink champaign it's it's important. That's that's a wound, the full story actually, and and from your your prospective, so you know, speaking about thisteam and and going through the acquisition. If you want to give advice toteams which companies are going from a quick of the at the moment. Whatwould that be? I think during as well as after. One advice Iwould give is to be patient, be human and adapt. That's what wedo best as humans. We adapt.

For example, if there is oneseat and there's one person who's sitting on it, you can probably squeeze topeople on the same seat. So we adapt to changes as humans. Sothat's the best thing we do and that's my advice to everyone. Be Patientand do the right things, right for the customer, right for the company. When you are patient and when thanks or companies get acquired, there willbe many voids that will be created. And if you keep on raising yourhand and keep running to the fire and not away from the fire, andgood things will happen to you. So I would say keep on doing that, be patient, adapt and do it with a smile, and good thingswill happen. Keep doing this till the time you're having fun and learning somethingnew, and do not too tied on to the fact that I joined thiscompany and now it's not this company. Now I need to move away fromit as soon as possible. That's one advice I would give. Please,don't do that. Don't run away from something. Always run towards something,unless until you have found your next passion, unless an until you found something that'sgoing to make you happier. Hang in there and do the right thingfor the customer. Enjoy and love what you do and you will excel inthat and I think you are the life example of the fire. You canactually develop your skill developed your career progress in some of you know, skillsets and everything through an acquisition. Will clearly, through the two examples thatyou gave us, I believe the Sky Qu and the oxides example of acquisition, will clearly you. You are the tremendous developments in term of interim,of role in some of in them, of your future, and in termof city, which which is great and and it's true at sometimes we dotend to see and maybe more we sell steam the marketing team or product team, but we see lots of people kind of leaving the boats as soon asthe acquisition is made and it takes usually three to six months for almost thewhole cell seem to be gone, and...

I don't know why it is.I been do you have any opinion as to why the fellows gays want toto leave the ship so quickly after acquisition is a depends on the personalities ofpeople. So if you are hired to sell justice and now your colder changesand you're being asked to sell more things and you're not comfortable with selling thosethings, or they might not be her domain, they might not be expertise, which is why they tend to switch and try to sell the different companyor a different product. But my advice is try to find synergies between products. Try to find how can you attack the same budget but expand your dealsize. I don't think easier said than done, but have that open mindsetand you might be able to see cet in things that did not exist earlieror even after the acquisition. Your company is the only one that can offerthat solution. I'll give you an example. We acquired web isolation company as amantic and shortly after we actually combined it with email and that created industry'sfirst email isolation. It did not exist as a product, did not existas a category, but since we had both the products we could come upwith that new use case. So if I'm the Sales Guy, I'm I'mselling the email security. If I went to my customer with this very uniqueoffering. That should help me when deal. So that's what I would say.Keep an open mindset, mindset, think of it from your customers pointof view and see if you can give them more than what you could getthem earlier. Yeah, that makes perfect sens and if it moves to themarketing perspective, so what would you say the main differences between marketing in alot on the price company elector an hps, Sco, McAfee, intael Oh,and those to the startups? What you come from at the outset?Yeah, I think as a market year, if I could say, what aremy two jobs? Number One, I want to meet the revenue andpipeline goals by keeping my sales team busy,...

...and number two is awareness, makingsure everybody knows my brand. In larger companies, one is accomplished bya set of products as compared to a single the product. So my revenuewill come from multiple products, not just one product, which is mostly commonin case of startups. And sometimes these products would compete with each other bothfor mind share as well as pocket share. So the example that I gave onthe email isolation. Think of it from the customer point of view.which product should you push think of it. If they have a need and budgetfor this product today, let's focus with that product as compared to sellingjust that tool that you have at a startup. I don't care what's yourbudget, I don't care what's your pain point. That's all I have gotto sell you, so I'm going to focus on that. So that's onedifference. On number one, meeting the revenue part. How do you meetrevenue guidelines? On the second one, awareness front. START UPS needed.Your startup is probably not known by many companies out there, and I'll giveyou an example and a second. In case of larger brands, people mightalready have a perception about you. So it's not that they don't know semantic, but they do know semantic as an anti virus company. So if youhave to position semantic as a cloud security, as an information security, as anemail security, as a cast peak, you'd have to change that perception.So awareness is there, but it's a different flavor of awareness, whichis perception, that you need to change. On the thought up front, Ithink awareness, how it helps. I'll give you a quick example.What we did was travel and Leisure magazine came up with top fifty tourists nationsand we were a mobile curity company. All of us, I'm sure you, have done it, to take our phones out and connect to public wifisto keep our cell phone cost low, and we've done it multiple times.Especially if I'm going from us to Europe or you're coming from Europe to theUS, you would do that too. And there are many bad, maliciouswi fi networks. So what we did...

...was we ranked those tourist destinations bytheir maliciousness. How likely are you to get attacked if you take your phoneout and connect to a Wi fi? At times? Square versus London,I. So that's what we did and it was very successful. Two hundredfifty plus TV channels covered us. It went all the way to the todayshow, which is watched by five million people in the US, second mostwatch program in the US, and once we were on TV, that actuallychanged everything on the awareness runt. So one of my sales guys was visitingNew York giants office and he gave his card to the reception. Has Receptionslooked at it and said, Oh, Sky Cure, we have seen youon TV. So that is what a dream come true or an start upis on the awareness run. To recap what I said, two goals frommarket year's meet revenue. Number two, meet awareness goals and revenue will comefrom one product versus multiple product. Awareness goes from no one knows my brandto changing the perception. Yeah, that text perfections. We thank you foryour insight today around the reappreciate the time it took to to share some ofYorks by and some of your sorts as well, with audience. If anyonewants to get in touch with you to carry on the conversation or pick yourbrain up for all the specific topic, what's the best way to get intouch with you? Are I'm at weekenderscore is on twitter. Other than thatI'm on Linkedin at Goldy Baron. So both places fairly active. Reach outto me. Happy to help. And if you want to learn more aboutwhat we are doing at Mark II and at opposed to autonomous intelligence, happyto help there as well. Just send any send us an email at hello, at macuycom. Okay, what many things again, he was it wasabsolutely fantastic. Will be on the show today. Leisure as mine. Thankyou. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies. Worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and...

...managing inside sales teams in house hasexisted for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agilityand scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. SeeHow operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listeningto BEDB revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribeto the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening.Until next time,.

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