Two weeks ago, I told you that I would focus this week on some tips for my friends at Cyan on being acquired. Being acquired is neither good nor bad. It simply is. About the only surety that one can have in being acquired is that there is change coming. That is where I will focus most of what I say.
The challenge is that before I do that, I need to remind everybody that employment is a business arrangement. You trade your time and skill for money. There are likely other things that you get out of working at a certain place, but those are more abstract. And they are the things most likely to change in an acquisition.
First, there will be those that leave at or shortly after the deal closes. A company does not need 2 CEOs or 2 CFOs. Those people are aware of that when these deals happen and are getting a handle on how long they are desired to be around post the close of the deal. Less explicit will likely be the “synergies” gained in G&A. The number of transactions that occur in Finance, for example, will not change that much for the Ciena Financial team when Cyan is added. Cyan will represent about 6% of the total revenue of Ciena. So, there will be work to integrate the systems and then many of the G&A people will be let go.
Groups like Customer Service, Marketing, and Sales will take longer to settle. There will still be a large overlap between the companies. There are only so many carriers and both companies will be calling on many of the same ones. Here a great guide to what will happen is to examine what happened in past Ciena acquisitions. Ciena has bought many companies over the years. The Wikipedia article on Ciena lists a large number of previous acquisitions. Some of those acquisitions transformed Ciena (for example in the Optical Crossconnect space). Other acquisitions failed (like in the DSL space). But the good news is that there is a track record and employees can research how these proceeded.
Finally, there will be the people directly related to product development. Clearly the acquisition is primarily about Blue Planet. Really the question is about the other products. Ciena has products that compete and complement the Cyan box portfolio. There will be a rationalization of R&D spending. I can’t tell you how that is going to come out in the end. What I can tell you is that there will not be a lot of R&D spent on directly competing platforms.
Which brings me back to the “Business Deal” part of employment. The people making decisions about how things are going to change are primarily on the Ciena side of the deal. That means decisions that have been made in the recent past or might be made in the near future can be changed. So, as an employee you have to judge what the deal brings to you personally. The deal is good for Cyan as a company and for its shareholders. But nobody is examining what the deal means for your career. It is simply not part of the deal calculus. So, it is imperative that you do that.
What can you do? First, be objective about how decisions are going to be made in the combination. That means studying what happened in past deals. This is especially true for recent deals (World Wide Packets and Nortel Metro Divisions are the most recent). Second, you can do some research on who is going to be inserted into your management chain. You can use Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook) and Google to learn what they are like. You can connect to past employees and friends to see what they know about the people that are being thrust into your life. You can study Ciena’s plans. There are a number of documents available on-line. Take a look at the Ciena Career section. See if there are jobs that are being opened that you might want to do. Because this can be an opportunity as well as a problem. Ciena will open career choices to you that you might not have had in Cyan.
So, study – have a plan – take charge of your career during this transition and good luck!
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