The performance marketing industry has undergone massive change within the last 2 years, possibly more than any period within the decade. Many performance marketing companies are merging or are being acquired for strategic purposes. Perhaps the biggest trend is that a number of large companies have gone into aggressive acquisition mode, which has left an interesting gap in the middle. It seems as if either you are a large (> 250 employees) or a small performance marketing company (< 25 employees), with a relatively small few left in between at this point in time.
Most importantly, where does this leave the modern day employee? The age of loyalty and our parents holding the same job for 35 years at a blue chip company are long gone. To be an employee in this era you must have thick skin, and I’d therefore like to help pass along some nuggets of wisdom accumulated over 20 years to help deal with the toughest thing for most humans – change!
Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) can be a good thing. I’ve experienced 4 in my career, and I have been blessed to meet amazing people from different states and countries who I respect and cherish, and I have also learned new management techniques. And there are many other things that come along with the territory. You get new leaders to provide vision and ways of doing business that you have never experienced. There will be new employees to share ideas with and challenge you to new levels. The company can simultaneously create efficiencies
and new service offerings. Embrace the change, welcome your peers, keep an open mind, and you can see fruitful results. Once you get past the first 3 or so months of inevitable growing pains, you will be adapted to the new world. And when the revenue growth starts to occur, it often heals the bumps and bruises more quickly. The important part here is that you will be an exploring a new world, which will provide a lot of excitement and move you out of any work rut you may have been stuck in. You need to be patient to see the positive course taking place.
Let’s face it, not all M&A transactions go well. Unfortunately I’d say the majority end up creating a bad situation for one or both companies. Sometimes cultures and ways of doing business clash and will not fall within your belief system. In my crazy experience, I’ve seen new owners steal from a publicly traded company, discrimination practiced, and even questionable activities required. I will always hope that those are the extremes. Undoubtedly you will hear new rumors each day about job losses and relocations, have new bosses that can
seem tyrannical, watch rich histories of culture and progress evaporate, and then see people quit in droves out of fear of all of the above. And perhaps the worst feeling of all – you have to prove yourself all over again once you think you have made it to the top of your position. We are all human and I always believe that no one means you any harm, but the fact is, M&A survival requires a strong stomach.
It’s Your Decision – Either Way A Change Is Made
Whether the M&A you will inevitably be a part of some day is good or bad, you have a difficult decision to make. This means you either decide to stay and rebuild, or you need to “opt-out” and leave for another venture. There is no wrong decision as you have to do what is best for yourself. However, I strongly urge that you disregard the rampant rumors, though certainly keep your eyes and ears open to make your own judgments. In the 4 M&A’s I’ve been a part of, I have always given it a solid 4-6 months to make any determinations while giving it my all to make it work. You should push yourself to do the same thing, as not once have I regretted the decision to stay and figure it out for myself – regardless if I eventually stayed or left. There is no special reward for staying just as there is no punishment for leaving – ultimately you have to be happy.
Much change will occur over the next few years in the online performance marketing industry, and frankly many other industries (i.e., recently Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A Bank, Comcast-Time Warner, Facebook-WhatsApp, etc.). Therefore today’s employee needs to make one of three choices – adapt to the new environment, leave for another environment, or start a new environment. All are worthy choices, just make sure to make the best decision based on all the facts you can amass. Change is exciting, embrace it!