Rocket at 25: acquiring differently
Over the last 25 years Rocket Software has grown both organically and through acquisitions. Our first acquisition was led by our co-founder Johan Gedda, who saw the company through more than 20 acquisitions. Johan passed the torch to me four years ago and I’ve been leading our acquisition strategy ever since. We’ve refined our strategy and our processes and have completed 10 transactions since then.
I love what I do because I know that we acquire differently than many other software companies and that we really care about doing what’s best for our new employees, customers and partners. We also have a reputation for being transparent throughout the acquisition process, always doing what we say we’re going to do, and providing high certainty of close.
Whenever I speak with CEOs and owners of businesses we’re considering for acquisition, I offer them the opportunity to call past leaders who sold their businesses to Rocket and encourage them to ask those hard questions: Did we do what we said we were going to do? Were we no-nonsense in our process? Were we transparent and open? Did we work efficiently to get the deal done? If you had the chance to do it all over again, would you still have sold to Rocket? Whenever people have taken me up on this offer they became convinced that Rocket was the right buyer.
We talk to a lot of companies and investment bankers about what we look for in our acquisitions. Here are a few key points that we like to highlight:
Growth: this is the key factor that separates the many deals we don’t execute from those that are a good fit. Rocket acquires for growth. Every acquisition that we complete is either growing prior to joining Rocket or we have a clear line of sight toward how we will drive growth as part of Rocket. We also invest for growth post-acquisition. Unlike others, we do not seek to summarily “cut costs” or “maximize synergies” – we focus on accelerating growth by turning on a new channel capability or leveraging complementary products within Rocket that customers need, or improving R&D effectiveness or all of the above. These are just a few ways that we help to drive growth.
Customer loyalty: we look for businesses that have great solutions that customers love and rely on to run their business. We also look for leaders that care about solving problems for their customers. Great software and a mindset of putting customers first are foundations for high customer loyalty.
Acquire in areas we know and understand: we like to keep things simple and focus on acquiring businesses that operate in areas we have experience with – this helps greatly reduce risk and ensure high levels of success post-close.
All of the acquisitions we’ve closed in the last several years fit these key criteria very well. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. We have a great team that puts a lot of effort into making each acquisition a success. We are talking to companies all the time looking for opportunity to continue to accelerate Rocket’s growth through strategic acquisitions.