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 and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to be. To be a reven new acceleration. My name is onion with you and I'm up today with Varroom Collie, Co founder and chief business so she saw at mcai. How are you to day, Veron, doing, awesome and a half. Thanks for asking and thanks for having me here. Absolute pleasure. So I'll to pick today for the episode is acquisition. I'll do out to adapt, which is which is interesting because obviously we've seen a lots of our clients recently being acquired and so movement following the acquisition. But before we go into the conversation, Barron, could you please introduce yourself to audience and tell us more about you, but also your career in the BTB take industry? Yeah, absolutely. Put things for us time, a very proud father 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, and not even a day passes by without my my wife making fun of me that I learned how to write code for six years. I do have bachelor's in computer science and masters in Computer Science, but I wrote code for one year and switched to the darker side of marketing, and which is what my wife makes fun of, that you lasted one year in engineering and switch to the darker side. On the work side, I like stealing businesses and working on problems that have a potential to make a tent in the universe, and one such 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 platform with pickless analytics. So far, people need to know what to a, people need to search, people need to click. We want to take them to the Tesla of Bi world so that,...

...even if they don't know what to ask, they still get business intelligence at their finger tips. So that's what I do and that's what that WHO I am. That's wonderful, believe it on that. I've got a very similar background to you. So I was hours, I am, but law as well, in incuding, and I had I did a degree in coding when coding for six months, absolutely eighty it went back to do a business could and then I worked in marketing and and now kind of marketing cells. So I don't think is a darker side. 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 I would do that. So very will. Through your career you are part of several acquisitions and that's the reason why we want each two have yawned the podcast to 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 quite an impressive background. So skake cube being acquired by Simo. Take Iron thought acquired 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 then oxide, which was which was obviously a called by HP in industries like Cybe or security. We know that acquisitions of a recommon, but like any acquisition, it means that a profession, as a professional, you need to be flexible and be open to changes, be open to probably being part of a large 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 change and how did you addapt to it? Yeah, I think I'll probably answer this in two parts. One is the most number of changes that I went through within that acquisition and the second one is more drastic change. As you ask, the number one is cipher trust. That is where I switched from engineering to marketing. What had happened was I was actually writing code for an instant messaging security. Think cops lack...

...security in today's world, and then the company got acquired. As part of the acquisition, most of the exits, exact, were gone and there was no one to present the solution and I started presenting the solution to customers. Tlee. For me, nine out of ten customers are presented to but the solution, which is why the head of marketing, CMO, walked into my cube and said do you want to do product marketing and I said how do you spell that? And told me a little bit about product marketing and I said I'm not sure if I'll succeed or not, so let me write code and do product marketing. For six months. I'll do both and that six month has not ended yet. I've been still doing a product marketing and marketing. So that was cipher trust. The big change was from engineering to marketing and then cipher trust getting acquired into secure computing, secure getting into macafee, macifing getting acquired by Intel. So that was the number of changes. That was the most number of changes. On the DAST change, I would probably mention ORC site. I started at Ark site to do product marketing for a person. I reported into this version and he led product marketing for one of the point product which was twenty million dollar product. So after a month or two of starting, he said I don't know if you need me for this, so why don't you run product marketing for this? So I started running product marketing for that product. We grew it from twenty million to eighty million within two hours and then I started running product marketing for a one more product line alongside that one. Fast forward a year, I started running product marketing for all of Ok site port for you. Fast forward another year. I octide gets acquired into HB. I started 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 started with product marketing off at twenty million product line and when I left I was running marketing for a million dollar product line. So I think that was the most drastic team I would mention. This are two pretty life changing type of even that happened, which is which is absolutely wonderful and thanks for sharing that we with us today. From your perspective, and I know that he depends on the acquirer, but we are some some of our clients being acquired or tred some acquir or speaking to us about the the kind of the delay to take off the autonomy away from the startup, company removed the name, makes it tr etc. So, for example, company a got a quill by company B and the brand of company a gets removed within amounts or so and everything is such into company B and Company be does business on the name of company B. From your perspective, how important it is, or is it for a startups to remain autonomous within a larger group and remain a Gile of the velocity of selling the velocity of going to partners, the appetite that start up 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 the customer. In certain cases when, for example, I import was acquired by sirs, so we were the security business unit of CISCOPE. So we created that 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 think of 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 individual products, or would it be better for customers to combine different solutions into a bundle, into a package? In those cases it makes more sense to absorb the company, join the engineering team come up with new use cases, which is 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 semantic and so that we could protect not just the enterprise mobile devices but also consumer mobile devices. It all depends on what's right for the customer and that's what I 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. I really like it Verre and from from a mindset cospective. So again, you will depends from one case to the other, but I'm shot at some points the employee of a start would know that they may bee I knows our company are trying to acquire them, or they may know that there is some of terms being shot between CEOS or whatever it could be, but they may feel that an acquisition and is your horizon. Okay, so what's your experience of that kind of free change? It is before the change, but obviously there must be some apprension. So how do you, as a management team called for 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 the advices that we got from board members through one of these transitions was absolutely on the need to know basis. News needs to be known by people and if you don't need that news to be known, we should not be sharing the broadly with the whole company. Reason being. Sometimes there is many a slip 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 something that can go wrong. What if it derails? Then it kills the motivation for the employees and they start making up their own stories as to something must be wrong. Why did someone not acquire us? So I think unless and until it is all baked and ready to be shared, it's probably advisable not to share prebate thing and, as we've...

...seen it multiple times, that there is due diligence and something gets a found in due diligence. So we just recently found in the case of semantic. You mentioned all the companies that sky kill got acquired into semantic and since we started talking now, Semantica also got acquired by broadcast. Yea work with nine companies. Eight of them have been acquired so far, but not that. If we were just talking to eight acquirers, we were probably talking to sixteen or twenty four acquirers and eight of them happen. So totally. You should share this information only on the need to know basis and once it is once it is fully big, that is when you should share with the broader employee place, and that is what I did. Believe it or not, in case of Sky Cure, we couldn't share with the employees. But this news was supposed to go life on Tuesday at six am Pacific Time. So I actually went with my wife and my daughter, then she was three year old, to the office and after work. One of the guys actually used to work late, so I had to ask 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 decorated the office with balloons and cake. And that was the only day in my life when I drank champagne at six am in the morning. It's always eight pm 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 to drink 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 this team and and going through the acquisition. If you want to give advice to teams which companies are going from a quick of the at the moment. What would that be? I think during as well as after. One advice I would give is to be patient, be human and adapt. That's what we do best as humans. We adapt.

For example, if there is one seat and there's one person who's sitting on it, you can probably squeeze to people on the same seat. So we adapt to changes as humans. So that's the best thing we do and that's my advice to everyone. Be Patient and do the right things, right for the customer, right for the company. When you are patient and when thanks or companies get acquired, there will be many voids that will be created. And if you keep on raising your hand and keep running to the fire and not away from the fire, and good things will happen to you. So I would say keep on doing that, be patient, adapt and do it with a smile, and good things will happen. Keep doing this till the time you're having fun and learning something new, and do not too tied on to the fact that I joined this company and now it's not this company. Now I need to move away from it 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's going to make you happier. Hang in there and do the right thing for the customer. Enjoy and love what you do and you will excel in that and I think you are the life example of the fire. You can actually develop your skill developed your career progress in some of you know, skill sets and everything through an acquisition. Will clearly, through the two examples that you 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 term of city, which which is great and and it's true at sometimes we do tend 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 as the acquisition is made and it takes usually three to six months for almost the whole 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 to to leave the ship so quickly after acquisition is a depends on the personalities of people. So if you are hired to sell justice and now your colder changes and you're being asked to sell more things and you're not comfortable with selling those things, 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 company or 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 deal size. I don't think easier said than done, but have that open mindset and you might be able to see cet in things that did not exist earlier or even after the acquisition. Your company is the only one that can offer that solution. I'll give you an example. We acquired web isolation company as a mantic and shortly after we actually combined it with email and that created industry's first email isolation. It did not exist as a product, did not exist as a category, but since we had both the products we could come up with that new use case. So if I'm the Sales Guy, I'm I'm selling the email security. If I went to my customer with this very unique offering. That should help me when deal. So that's what I would say. Keep an open mindset, mindset, think of it from your customers point of view and see if you can give them more than what you could get them earlier. Yeah, that makes perfect sens and if it moves to the marketing perspective, so what would you say the main differences between marketing in a lot 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 are my two jobs? Number One, I want to meet the revenue and pipeline goals by keeping my sales team busy,...

...and number two is awareness, making sure everybody knows my brand. In larger companies, one is accomplished by a set of products as compared to a single the product. So my revenue will come from multiple products, not just one product, which is mostly common in case of startups. And sometimes these products would compete with each other both for mind share as well as pocket share. So the example that I gave on the 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 budget for this product today, let's focus with that product as compared to selling just that tool that you have at a startup. I don't care what's your budget, I don't care what's your pain point. That's all I have got to sell you, so I'm going to focus on that. So that's one difference. On number one, meeting the revenue part. How do you meet revenue guidelines? On the second one, awareness front. START UPS needed. Your startup is probably not known by many companies out there, and I'll give you an example and a second. In case of larger brands, people might already 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 you have to position semantic as a cloud security, as an information security, as an email security, as a cast peak, you'd have to change that perception. So awareness is there, but it's a different flavor of awareness, which is perception, that you need to change. On the thought up front, I think 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 nations and 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 wifis to 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 the US, you would do that too. And there are many bad, malicious wi fi networks. So what we did...

...was we ranked those tourist destinations by their maliciousness. How likely are you to get attacked if you take your phone out and connect to a Wi fi? At times? Square versus London, I. So that's what we did and it was very successful. Two hundred fifty plus TV channels covered us. It went all the way to the today show, which is watched by five million people in the US, second most watch program in the US, and once we were on TV, that actually changed everything on the awareness runt. So one of my sales guys was visiting New York giants office and he gave his card to the reception. Has Receptions looked at it and said, Oh, Sky Cure, we have seen you on TV. So that is what a dream come true or an start up is on the awareness run. To recap what I said, two goals from market year's meet revenue. Number two, meet awareness goals and revenue will come from one product versus multiple product. Awareness goes from no one knows my brand to changing the perception. Yeah, that text perfections. We thank you for your insight today around the reappreciate the time it took to to share some of Yorks by and some of your sorts as well, with audience. If anyone wants to get in touch with you to carry on the conversation or pick your brain up for all the specific topic, what's the best way to get in touch with you? Are I'm at weekenderscore is on twitter. Other than that I'm on Linkedin at Goldy Baron. So both places fairly active. Reach out to me. Happy to help. And if you want to learn more about what we are doing at Mark II and at opposed to autonomous intelligence, happy to help there as well. Just send any send us an email at hello, at macuycom. Okay, what many things again, he was it was absolutely fantastic. Will be on the show today. Leisure as mine. Thank you. 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 has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening to BEDB revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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