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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。

    为了确保收购的成功,你有必要“全身心投入”。大多数收购都以失败告终。如果某一业务的规模还没有能大到自食其力,或者说无法合理地并入目前的业务线,那么这项业务通常会凋零和死亡。如果被收购公司的领导者离开,或者不满于现状,那么这种情况尤其容易出现。员工会模仿领导者的行为,或者也被调到新的部门,而之前的领导还在,但是管不着他们,或者跟他们新的上司互相并不信任。如果领导者在收购公司担任新的更高的职务,那么他们就成为了信任的桥头堡和导航的灯塔。那么公司里的“我们”和“他们”这种观念就会弱化,而更多的是“我们大家”。实际上,我并不是说非得有所取舍,只是如果有一个你能信任的人来向你解释个中缘由,那么你在接受大型公司的那套繁文缛节时便能坦然很多。

随着你向核心层迈进,你会遇到很多不错的人。如果你的老上级不在公司,那么你就难以与公司最好的同事们分享任何有意义的时光。我获得提升之后,有大量的时间与高层团队相处,领教了公司的副总裁培训项目,还处理了很多棘手的策略问题。我认为,只有在真正了解关键人物之后,才能做出知情决策,即是否留在公司发展。的确,我遇到过那些一心只想往上爬的人,那些暗地里发难的混球,还有混事的员工,但是就长远来看,这没有太大的关系。我遇到的这些敢于冒险的人已经成为了我一生的同事——有些人留了下来——但是很多人都已经选择去一些热门的硅谷公司担任更高、更有意思的职务。请不要忽视这个机会的重要性。

    如果你决定采纳我的意见,担任更高的职务,以下是我的一些建议:

    不要偏袒你的旧团队。如果你在创业方面获得成功,你很有可能已经吸引到了一批一流的人才。因此,你们之间的紧密关系、工作期间所产生的信任以及你对他们才干的了解会让你优先、迅速地提拔他们。然而,对于他们来说,首先在新组织获得一定的认可是很重要的。回想当年,我操之过急,在非常短的时间内就把我的老团队提拔了上来。随后,人们对我们的看法就是“IronPort夺权“,而且很难改变。我本应花更多的时间来评估后来的思科团队,让整个团队自然成长。

    团队互相融合。我们宣布重组之后,我改变了整个管理层。IronPort工程部高级副总裁接手防火墙部门,思科负责防火墙的副总裁接手了IronPort。每个人都可以在新的境遇中大展拳脚,而且满怀热情地去了解项目的详细情况。此外,我们召集了所有产品部门总监级别以上的同事来开展小组头脑风暴,还为每个产品规划了新的路线图。由于大家都参与了这些计划的公开讨论和辩论,因此员工们的集思广益也使产品的销量有所提高。

    开诚布公。对于那些妨碍公司正常发展、前后矛盾的做法、愚蠢的方针、繁文缛节以及其他任何事情,我往往都是毫无保留地予以指出。事实上,我并不是在培养10年职业规划,也没有对留在这里长期工作感到犹豫不决,反而让我在做事时完全放开了手脚。大型公司往往拘泥于过程,公司的领导甚至都忘了应该如何推进该做的事。除了让工作体验更加有意思之外,我还遇到了一些跟我想法相同的领导者,还在一些重要项目上取得了进展。

    争取更多的酬劳。虽然这一点在Facebook和谷歌(Google)这样的公司已经开始变化,但大多数大型公司还未能在高管方面与热门创业公司形成竞争。作为领导人,你所打造的商业计划中的高管酬劳可能会跟私有公司的首席执行官的酬劳计划差不多。最主要的益处还是在于,你和团队是一荣俱荣的关系。如果你能为你自己设立酬劳保护伞,那么它同样直接适用于其余的高管团队和顶尖的工程师们。

    准备好继任计划(尤其是你确信自己不会继任的时候)。当今世界,在一个运行良好的大型公司当中,18个月是一个标准的期限,因此没必要为在保护期结束之时离开而感到不快。如果你已经培养了一支队伍,有些人可能表现很突出,那么这些人可能会成为你的接班人。如果你已经解决了酬劳问题,而且遇到了所有这些优秀的人,那么你便拥有所需的一切信息来做出是留是走的知情决策。

    最后,由于一系列原因,我两年前在保护期结束之时离开了思科。IronPort前任市场营销部高级副总裁接替了我的职务,成为了思科所有安全产品的负责人。很多优秀的IronPort员工在保护期过后继续留在思科工作了很多年。我认为并购成功的主要原因在于得到了之前的团队的参与,而且这个团队有机地融入了思科。

    斯科特•维斯是安德森霍洛维茨的合伙人,也是IronPort前任创始人和首席执行官,IronPort于2007年被思科收购。

    You need to "sew in the organ" to make the acquisition successful. Most acquisitions fail. If something isn't big enough to stand on its own or doesn't logically snap into an existing business line, it will usually wither and die. This is especially true if the acquired leaders leave or become disaffected. Employees mimic leaders' behavior or get shifted to new leaders when the previous ones exit and have no connection or trust with their new reporting chain. If the leaders take larger and different roles within the acquiring company they form beachheads of trust and points of navigation. It becomes less "them" vs. "us" and a more collective "we". Look, I'm not saying it's ever going to be Kumbaya over s'mores, but it's a helluva lot easier to accept the bullshit you get at a large company if you have someone you trust explaining the rationale to you.

    You will meet amazing great people as you get closer to the inner circle. If your head isn't in the game, you'll never spend any meaningful time with the best people. After my promotion, I got to spend a ton of time with the senior team, went through their version of VP leadership training, and tackled many tough strategic issues. I believe it's only by really getting to know the key people that you can make an informed decision about making a career at the new company. Yes, I met my share of climbers, passive-aggressive assholes, and C-players but that didn't really matter long-term. The rockstars I came across have become lifelong colleagues - some of whom have stayed - but many have moved on to bigger, more interesting jobs in hot Silicon Valley companies. Don't overlook the importance of this opportunity.

    If you decided to take my advice and push for a larger role, I have a few more suggestions once you're there:

    Don't play favorites with your old team. If you've run a successful startup, you've likely attracted first-rate talent to join you. Invariably, the close relationships, trust from working together, and familiarity with their great work will lead you to promote them first and fast. However, it's important for them to earn some credibility with the new organization first. In retrospect, I moved too quickly and put my old team in charge too fast. We suffered from a perception of an "IronPort takeover" that was hard to reverse. I should have taken more time to evaluate my inherited Cisco team and let the cream of the crop rise naturally.

    Mix up the talent. When we announced the reorg, I shuffled the leadership decks completely. The IronPort SVP of Engineering took over the firewall group and the Cisco VP running firewalls took over IronPort. Each had a fresh set of eyes and legs to apply to their new areas and attacked getting up to speed with vigor. In addition, we flew in all the director-level leaders and above from all the product groups to do group brainstorming and come up with new roadmaps for every product. Because the plans were argued and debated out in the open with everyone involved, there was much more buy-in with the employees working on the products.

    Speak your mind. I was constantly pointing out inconsistencies, stupid directives, red tape, and anything that got in the way of doing the right thing. The fact that I wasn't nursing a 10-year career trajectory and was on the fence about staying long-term was incredibly freeing in terms of getting things done. In general, large companies get caught up in their processes so much that the leaders forget how to push to do the right thing. In addition to making the experience more entertaining, I met a bunch of other, like-minded leaders and made progress on important projects.

    Negotiate for more compensation. Although this is starting to change at companies like Facebook and Google, most large companies are not prepared to be competitive with hot startups for compensating executives. As the leader, you can create a business case of what a comparable compensation plan would look like for a CEO of a private company. The main benefit here, again, is for your team versus you. If you can set up a compensation umbrella for you, it will apply directly to the rest of your executive team and top engineers.

    Put together a succession plan (Especially, if you've definitively decided it's not for you). In today's world, 18-month stints are the norm at well-run large companies so there's no need to feel bad leaving at the end of your vesting period. If you've integrated the team, someone would have likely distinguished his or herself and can be promoted into your role. If you've addressed your compensation and met all the best people, you'll have all the data in place to make an informed decision to stay or move on.

    In the end, for a variety of reasons, I left Cisco two years to the day when my vesting period was over. My former SVP of marketing at IronPort took over my role as head of all security products at Cisco. Many of the best people at IronPort stayed as Cisco for many years after their IronPort vesting was over. I believe the main reason the acquisition was a success was because the team engaged and meaningfully integrated into Cisco.

    Scott Weiss is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and the former co-founder and CEO of IronPort Systems, which was acquired by Cisco in 2007.

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