STORY OF A SALE: What’s It Really Like to Be Acquired?

Tue 2 Aug 2022 11:00 am UK Time

Selling your business is one thing…
…but what is it like when it’s acquired by a much larger corporate whose values and processes are your polar opposite?
Jim Shields, creative director of Twist & Shout Communications, has experienced just that – and he’ll be telling us all about it.

Jim Shields sold his two companies to a large US corporate, keeping creative control and increasing his budgets 17-fold.

“When you sell the companies you’ve been developing for 25 years, you aren’t given the time to mourn.”

These are the words of Jim Shields, whose media businesses were acquired by a large US corporate just four months before Covid hit.

His businesses, one a publishing company and the other a production company, create internal training videos and programmes in the cyber-security space.

“We weren’t interested in being acquired,” says the creative director of Twist & Shout Communications.

But it was his business partner’s words of wisdom that finally sold him on the idea.

“He said, ‘I appreciate your principles, Jim, but there comes a point where you’ve got to think of your staff’. I agreed with him – and so I did it. And it’s a good job I did, as three months later we’d have gone out of business.”

Jim says it was a ‘whirlwind’ acquisition and given the creative nature of their work, it has had great benefits.

  • They’ve kept full creative control, with Jim staying in his role as CD.
  • They have much bigger budgets to play with, growing 17-fold.
  • They have stronger processes in place when it comes to HR and hiring.

However, it hasn’t been without its downsides – some that Jim hadn’t seen coming.

  • Integrating the two cultures was difficult, especially with the buyer coming from a data analysis background.
  • The buyer introduced lots of rules and protocols, making things like paying freelancers much harder and slower.
  • They also now insist on OKRs (much like KPIs) which is almost impossible for a creative team like Jim’s to measure and track.

But it HAS had a positive effect when retaining staff.

“Most of the team have stayed with me, they’re now on more money and we’ve been able to take on more people too,” says Jim.

“They all realise this is the gravy train. If we wanted to go out into the wide world and get to that higher level, it’s very hit and miss when it comes to funding – and they usually want some kind of creative input.”

“We’ve now got much bigger plans.”

If you’re interested to hear more about what it’s like to be acquired, what the process entails, and what the impact might be on your business, come and join us.