Scott Kaplan, Director of Corporate Development at S4 Capital, and Blake Clifton, Head of Corporate Development at Cognizant, are both overseeing M&A at people-based organizations, which requires a commitment to effective communication and culture.
“How do we maintain cultural alignment as we expand into new geographies and new capabilities with new entrepreneurs?” Scott recalls, explaining the question he posed to his team when, through a merger, they became the operative arm of digital marketing firm S4. “The way we've tried to structure this, outside of the initial getting to know the founders, understanding ambitions and goals and making sure that alignment is there, is trying to put a framework around how to manage different growth across different practices of our company.”
Blake has been put in the same position, and he argues that people are what make the culture. So, when determining if a deal is a good fit, he says it’s crucial to think about, within current archetypes, who additional leaders will be interacting with.
“Cognizant doesn't buy companies to grow them at the same rate that they were growing at. We buy them to grow much faster,” Blake says. “The people that are going to enable that, our client partners or sales teams, are interacting with each of those acquisition archetypes differently, and those are things that we have to take into consideration for each deal.”
In this episode of Deal Talk with 7MA, Scott and Blake discuss effective transitional strategies, how to know when a deal is right for both parties and how maintaining an open line of communication is crucial in M&A.
Name: Scott Kaplan
What he does: As the Director of Corporate Development at S4 Capital, a digital marketing services firm providing data, media and creative services, Scott oversees the company’s research, diligence and eventual integration of its mergers across its global practice.
Company: S4 Capital
Words of wisdom: “Look for teams that are leaders of a space, who are people that other people want to work with. Those are the exact types of companies, and I think reputation, that we would hope to find in a lot of our mergers.”
Name: Blake Clifton
What he does: As the head of Corporate Development at Cognizant, a publicly traded global systems integrator focused on outsourced IT and digital transformation, Blake helps the company grow in its strategic battlefields and has led the organization’s seven acquisitions in those sectors.
Words of wisdom: “That's what you're starting to look for, when the acquired company starts to leverage the platform and do things that they couldn't do on their own and go beyond the scope of what the initial content was in the acquisition.”
Top takeaways from this episode
★ If your cultures don’t mesh, it’s not a good deal. Cultural alignment is crucial, and so is effective communication between both parties to ensure that this is a deal that will work once it goes into effect.
★ When they leverage your platform, you know something’s working. When the leaders of acquired companies...