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出售公司不等于出售灵魂

Scott Weiss 2013年02月07日

一位经历了公司出售全程的创始人用亲身经历告诉我们,不是公司卖出去了就可以混吃等死,拿钱走人了。公司出手之后,当头的要积极承担更重大的责任,积极推进两家公司在业务和人才上的整合,这样才能确保并购成功,公司和个人都能获得更好的发展。

    
斯科特•维斯

    思科(Cisco)收购我之前所创立的公司IronPort花费了6个月的时间,而我在这段时间内则是度日如年。虽然我仍然是名义上的首席执行官,但实际上,我所管理的这个“傀儡”政府的所有聘用工作、重大开支和战略调整都需要得到即将上任的君王的批准。由于思科是一家在职能组织上井然有序的公司,很快,直接向我汇报的项目将被减半,因为销售、人事和财务部门将向各自所属的集团汇报。我的职责会逐渐减少,自由发挥空间也会大幅缩小。而真正让人进退两难的问题在于:我与思科达成的协议是,收购交易结束之后,我作为公司创始人的股份可以得到24个月的特别保护,而并购本身就已让我如坐针毡。我很确信自己并不适合在大公司工作,然而,我只是难以在接下来的两年中天天望钟兴叹,然后渐渐地失去理智。我该怎么办?

    我儿子最近的水球队训练让我受到了启发。虽然我在佛罗里达州海边长大,但我并不怎么擅长游泳。我甚至从来都没穿过Speedo泳衣。我以为我压根不会喜欢水球运动。但是,如果我在两年之内每天都观看同一种体育项目,而且其他的人都在玩水球——那么我还能在泳池边无所事事地呆坐多长时间?我是不是应该直接采取行动?扑扑水,假装参与?不,我开始意识到前进的方式只有一种:剃掉全身的毛,穿上speedo,甩甩胳膊,然后聚精会神地加入其中……

    并购交易结束6个月之后,我做出了一个严肃而又具体的决定。我强烈要求接管思科(CSCO)所有的安全产品业务——这块业务比Ironport全部的业务还大三倍。我认为,如果新被收购公司的高管的受限时间很长(也就是说多于18个月),那么,他们应强烈要求在收购公司中担任更高的职务。这对于那些并不打算在特别保护权到期后留在被收购公司的领导者来说尤其可行。听起来似乎并不靠谱,但我的理由在于:

    出发点不是你自己,而是你的团队。如果身为一个团队带头人,你自己郁郁寡欢,整天闷闷不乐,“无所事事”,而且说起话来转弯抹角,那么你的团队也会分崩离析,而收购也将失败。另一方面,如果你担任了一个更高的职务,那么你就可以利用这一独特的位置拉他们一把。你欠员工们一个人情,因为那些吃泡面的员工们一开始在你的公司工作时得到的便可能是毫无价值的股票。除了提拔他们在新公司中担任更高的职务之外,你还可以推荐手下最好的员工去别的公司工作,因为你会了解到更多跨公司工作的机遇。一旦你的团队看到你加入了新的公司,他们也可能会更加卖力。大多数IronPort的中层管理者在思科的担子会大幅增加,而这为他们在思科或其他公司担任更高的职务打下了基础。有一种说法认为,创业公司的员工不适合在大型公司任职——事实上,很多人都已为这个变化做好了准备。在我们打造IronPort的这8年期间,很多单身员工结了婚,生了孩子,也希望能从大型公司中拿到和现在一样的收入,福利以及更少的工作时间和更稳定的工作。

    It took almost six months for my former company IronPort's acquisition by Cisco to close and it seemed like forever. Although I was still the CEO by name, I was essentially running a "puppet" government with every hire, major expense and strategic shift needing explicit approval from my soon-to-be-overlords. Since Cisco was a functionally organized company, I would soon be losing half of my direct reports as sales, HR, and finance would report into their respective groups. My job was becoming smaller and it had considerably fewer degrees of freedom. So here was the big dilemma: I had signed up for 24 months of re-vesting my founder's shares that wouldn't begin until the deal was closed and it already seemed like a paint-drying eternity. I was pretty sure that I wasn't cut out for a big company but I just couldn't spend the next two years watching the clock or I'd spiral into insanity. What to do?

    An analogy hit me as I watched my son at recent team practice: Water polo. Despite growing up on Florida beaches, I'm not that great of a swimmer. I've never even put on a Speedo. I didn't think that I would like anything about water polo. However, if I was locked in a sports complex every day for two years and everyone else was playing water polo – how long could I sit on the edge of the pool before I gave it a go? Should I just go through the motions? Splash water on my face and feign participation? No, I came to believe there was only one way forward: shave all the hair off my body, put on the Speedo, start throwing elbows, making shots and playing with vigor…

    Seriously and specifically, after six months in, I strongly advocated to be put in charge of all Security products at Cisco (CSCO) – a business that was three times larger than IronPort. I believe if the leaders of a newly acquired company are locked up for a significant period of time (i.e. greater than 18 months), they should strongly advocate for bigger jobs within the acquiring company. This is especially true if the leader isn't planning on staying around after the vesting period. This may seem like odd advice, but here's the rationale:

    It's not about you, it's about your team. If you're a disaffected leader, moping around, "doing time" and talking smack, your team will disintegrate and the acquisition will fail. On the other hand, if you land a larger role, you are in a unique position to help them out. You owe it to the people who ate Ramen noodles while you paid them in potentially worthless stock to work at your company in the beginning. In addition to promoting some of them to larger roles within your new org, you will be much more connected to the cross-company opportunities and can advocate for your top performers. When your team sees you engaging, they are more likely to pull harder, too. Most of the mid-level managers at IronPort had a significant increase in their responsibilities at Cisco and it prepared them to take on even larger roles both in and outside the company. There is a myth that employees that come from a startup aren't cut out for a large companies - in fact, many may be ready for a change. Over the eight years we built IronPort, many of our single employees got married, had kids and wanted the current income, benefits, lighter work hours, and increased stability of a larger company.

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