4 ways to navigate a post-acquisition partnership – TechCrunch

Mergers and acquisitions are notoriously difficult to navigate from a leadership and culture perspective. It requires a thoughtful approach to working with a new CEO and joining the teams as one workforce – a journey we are familiar with and recently acquired Auth0.

Okta and Auth0 have their share of differences – we focus on the enterprise, to start, and Auth0 is developer first – but shaping the future of identity has always been a common goal. Since closing the acquisition earlier this year, Auth0 CEO and I, Eugenio Pace, and I have come a long way in uncovering the best ways to embrace our differences, unite our teams and learn the ins and outs of each other’s driving styles.

Our journey so far offers lessons for other CEOs who navigate partnerships with a new co-CEO or other leaders after an acquisition. Here are my top conclusions from working together over the past year.

Do the prep work in advance

It’s helpful to put a vision of your company in pencil before the acquisition — it helps you solidify your goals in writing so that you can easily share them afterward. Before the acquisition, I wrote a long paper outlining my five-year vision for Octa. While articulating Okta’s vision is a big part of my role as CEO, I haven’t put it in this kind of written format (which turns 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 may think we look like records are broken about these integration priorities, but aligning with values ​​has helped promote clarity and consistency across our teams during the period of change.

Eugenio found it helpful to understand my point as we began the process of learning how best to collaborate and bring our two companies together. He has already drafted a similar document outlining his view of success if we are to join forces. These vision documents have helped us align our goals and clarify how we intend to expand and capitalize on our enormous market opportunities.

Define the common ground in how you lead

With any new C-suite hiring or partner, it pays to build a relationship by finding common ground and shared values. Eugenio and I realized that we place equal importance on implementing the same Northstar guidelines for integration: sustainable growth, putting our customers first, continually innovating, protecting our brands, and empowering our teams.

Our employees may think we look like records are broken about these integration priorities, but aligning with values ​​has helped promote clarity and consistency across our teams during the period of change.

Along with reflecting our core culture values, Eugenio and I share similarities in our leadership styles and personalities that complement each other. We are introverts, and we have the same Myers-Briggs (INTP) score, which translates to natural leadership chemistry. We both take responsible and reliable leadership seriously and understand each other’s working methods. Eugenio has a deep background in products and technology, so we are able to really get technical when discussing and making decisions about the future of our joint companies. Our common background also allows us to effectively share and receive feedback 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 faster decisions, and build momentum quickly.

Take advantage of the strengths of both teams

The acquisitions indicate that the success of companies on both sides of the deal has largely been bypassed. To acquire or take over, companies must do so Something True, it is necessary to identify the strengths within both institutions that reaped such rewards. Combining elements of each team that enhance overall synergy while also protecting unique areas is key when uniting forces.

For example, Auth0’s collaborative culture has already helped Okta revive her budding spirit. It’s not easy to maintain the same choppy energy from the early days when we were chasing after our first 10 customers (we’re now over 14,000), but Auth0 has provided a fresh perspective on innovation while still making room for the retention of our brands and people. strength point. Auth0 is a brand that is loved by developers, and its first remote nature has helped us navigate a dynamic work environment this year. Capitalizing on the strengths of the acquiring company helps drive your growth in new areas.

When in doubt, over-communicate

In the early stages of the acquisition process, 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 have regularly had full and integrated meetings with the company, and we’ve made these meetings intentional and transparent. We formulate agendas around the decisions we’ve made, the things that won’t change and what isn’t identified as a way to keep employees informed while still being honest about what we’re still finding out. In any acquisition, discussions about office space, combined benefits, and team integration schedules will inevitably arise, and giving employees an open line to ask questions and share concerns goes a long way in creating clarity and building trust.

Acquisitions can test your team’s strength and threaten existing cohesive cultures, so it takes meaningful communication to keep everyone on the same page and working toward the same goal.

It is worth the effort to make the partnership a success; Eugenio and I have been together for less than a year and have really benefited greatly from each other’s perspectives and background as we move forward into the next chapter.

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