Symantec acquiring Peter Norton Computing
As discussed in Company Formation, Culture and Vision are essential elements of your startup. I experienced this many times in my career. One pointed example was when I was at Symantec in the early days and we made a large acquisition. I was lucky enough to have hired a great first sales guy, Steve Abbott, who came to the i Lab to share that story with us.
As Steve shares, it wasn't the technology integration that was the challenge...
Some background slides highlighting this and drawing out some of the startup secrets are below:-
One startup secret here is simple but powerful and applies to many situations in a startup
Operationalize culture to harmonize internally so you can focus externally
That is to say, use your Culture, Vision and Mission to get people on the same page, energized around the same goals and drive out any politics so that the resulting team can be apply all their energy to important external goals like winning in the market.
In another part of this story, we were inded challenged with operationalizing our culture post acquisition and so we overcame this internal issue by declaring an external challenge - a competitor who we subsequently drove our of the business. By declaring war on them we came together as a unified team and learned to win together. It also became really clear who was a fit for the team going forward.
The other startup secret applies more specifically to acquisitions.
Check the cultural fit in advance and get the team and other personnel integration done early as a foundation before doing the technology integration.
As is often the case with technology startups, the value is in the people who can carry the product and IP forward. So take time to treat this like hiring. That is to say check they will really fit and ensure they are truly motivated to sign on, ideally pre-agreeing critical things like their role in advance of even making the acquisition.