PART IV: Closing the deal

PART IV: Closing the Deal

Bob Hale, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Alterian, came to visit in June. It was obvious he had done his research and was asking good qualifying questions about our business.  He decided to stay for dinner at Barolo Restaurant that night rather than flying back home.

Everything just made a lot of sense. Alterian had a great suite of marketing products, including SM2 (social media monitoring software) that needed services support. A large part of their revenues came from their channel and we had a model with our research center in Ho Chi Minh that could complement, rather than threaten such partners. Also, we could help pull in Atlerian’s platform into our research and strategy engagements.  Intrepid had a global reach which matched Alterian’s need for services throughout its 14 offices.

The negotiations went quickly and were finalized by end of July. It helped that we had executives experienced in transactions like this. I hired my brother, Paul Song, to do the final negotiations because he is very knowledgeable in these matters, but also because I didn’t want to be negotiating with my future bosses.

Then, the due diligence started with a tight deadline to close the deal by the end of August. I must admit I was not quite as prepared for this process as I had thought. Given that Alterian is a public UK company, there were a lot of laws and regulations that I was not familiar with. Additionally, I had under-estimated the rigor of the due diligence process.

In order to protect my team from being too distracted from running the business, I took on most of the due diligence effort myself with the support of a fantastic attorney, Daren Nitz, who had supported me though previous transactions.

The deal had some dramatic twists and turns, but the business executives at Alterian would always help put the business objectives in perspective when things were at an impasse. They gained my respect through the process, re-affirming our decision to join forces together. Never did I have a backroom discussion about corporate politics with any individual executive. They were aligned in vision and on how to execute. This has not always been my experience with these deals.

I’m extremely optimistic about our future. Misia Tramp and Liz High are already incorporating Alterian suite of products into some of our solutions. Warren Sukernek, Wilson Raj and Ed Kim are preparing for the expected increase in demand for social media services from Alterian’s channel and direct sales force.

The decision to join Alterian was relatively easy. The process to complete the deal was very intense and challenging but well worth the effort. The momentum we are creating reassures me that our initial vision to help define the social media analytics market has just become much more probable.

So, thirteen months after starting Lift9, I was in the Alterian Bristol UK office signing the Stock Purchase Agreement with David Eldridge, having scarfed down some late night Dominos pizza, feeling relieved that the due diligence was finally over…  and looking forward to the future.