4 Ways to Navigate a Post-Acquisition Partnership – Techdoxx

Deepak Gupta January 8, 2022
Updated 2022/01/08 at 2:36 PM

Mergers and acquisitions are notoriously difficult to navigate from a leadership and culture perspective. They require a thoughtful approach to working with a new CEO and joining teams as a workforce – a journey familiar to us and recently acquired by Auth0.

Okta and Auth0 have their share of differences – we’re business-focused to begin with, while Auth0 is more developer-oriented – but shaping the future of identity has always been a shared goal. Since the acquisition closed earlier this year, Auth0 CEO Eugenio Pace and I have come a long way in discovering the best ways to embrace our differences, unite our teams, and learn the ins and outs of each other’s leadership styles. others.

Our journey so far offers lessons for other CEOs navigating to partner with a new co-CEO or other post-acquisition C-suite leaders. Here are my main findings from working together over the past year.

Do the prep work in advance.

It’s worth putting pen to paper in your company’s vision before an acquisition – it helps solidify your goals in writing that you can easily share. Prior to our acquisition, I wrote a long article mapping my five-year vision for Okta. While articulating Okta’s vision is a big part of my role as CEO, I’ve never laid it out in that kind of written format (which turned out to be longer than I intended – 15 pages!).

The exercise allowed me to reflect on Okta’s growth over the past 12 years and what is to come.

Our employees probably think we sound like record-breakers in these onboarding priorities, but alignment with the values ​​has helped to promote clarity and consistency across our teams during a period of change.

Eugenio found it helpful to understand my point of view as we began the process of learning how best to collaborate and bring our two companies together. In fact, he wrote a similar document outlining his vision of success if we joined forces. These vision documents helped us to align our goals and illustrate how we intend to scale and capitalize on our enormous market opportunity.

Identify common ground in how you lead

With any new hire or C-suite partner, it helps to build a relationship by finding common ground and shared values. Eugenio and I knew that we both attach equal importance to implementing the same “northern star” guidelines for integration: sustainable growth, putting our customers first, continuous innovation, protecting our brands and empowering our teams.

Our employees probably think we sound like record-breakers in these onboarding priorities, but alignment with the values ​​has helped to promote clarity and consistency across our teams during a period of change.

Along with our mirrored cultural core values, Eugenio and I share similarities in our leadership styles and complementary personalities. We are introverts and even have the same Myers-Briggs (INTP) score, translating into a natural leadership chemistry. We both take responsible and reliable leadership seriously and understand each other’s work styles. Eugenio has a deep knowledge of products and technology, so we can be really technical when discussing and making decisions about the future of our joint ventures. Our shared history also allows us to share and receive feedback effectively with each other.

Ultimately, understanding your new partner’s unique style and how similar (and different) you are can help you work together more efficiently, make decisions faster, and build momentum quickly.

Leverage both teams’ strengths

Acquisitions signal that a significant threshold of success has been crossed for companies on both sides of the deal. To acquire or be acquired, companies must be doing something right and it is essential to identify the strengths within both organizations that reaped such rewards. Combining the elements of each team that promote overall synergy while protecting the unique areas is critical to joining forces.

For example, Auth0’s collaborative culture has already helped Okta rekindle its startup spirit. It’s not an easy task to maintain the same disconnected energy of the early days when we were pursuing our first 10 customers (we are now over 14,000), but Auth0 has introduced a new perspective on innovation while still allowing room to retain our respective brands and strengths. Auth0 is a brand loved by developers, and its remote nature also helped us navigate a dynamic work environment this year. Leveraging the acquired company’s strengths helps drive its growth into new areas.

When in doubt, communicate in excess

In the early stages of an acquisition, success depends on intentional and frequent communication with your new partner and team. Maintain frequent meetings and check-ins, both with new leaders and with your broader employee base.

This year, we regularly hold full and integrated meetings with all members, and we make these meetings intentional and transparent. We shape agendas around decisions we make, things that aren’t going to change, and what’s undecided as a way to keep employees informed while staying honest about what we’re still discovering. With any acquisition, discussions will inevitably arise about office space, blended benefits, and team integration schedules, and giving employees an open line to ask questions and share concerns goes a long way toward creating clarity and building trust.

Acquisitions can test the strength of your team and threaten existing united cultures, so intentional communication is needed to keep everyone on the same page and working toward the same goal.

It’s worth the energy to make the partnership successful; Eugenio and I have been working together for less than a year and have already benefited greatly from each other’s perspectives and background as we move into this next chapter.

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