Jonas Software acquired Ineo Global Mobility in September 2020. We caught up with David Santora, CEO of Ineo, to discuss the acquisition process for Ineo and what life looks like post acquisition.
David, thanks for joining us today. Really appreciate it.
Likewise, thank you, George.
Can you give us a little bit of background on Ineo?
Ineo is a company that has a proprietary mobility assignment management platform. We have technology that tracks the accounting and tax implications of relocation.
When Ineo was founded, relocation was the term that was used when multinational and or multi-jurisdictional corporations decided to move employees from one particular location to another particular location.
Over the last 20 years, relocation evolved into mobility. The basic process that we’re extremely well-versed and experienced in, is in helping companies manage the costs and the tax compliance pieces of corporate relocation.
Why did you decide to sell to Jonas?
It’s a great question, and there are a number of reasons. Primarily I would say that our dealings with Jonas were very direct. My partners and I worked with Matt Otchet, one of Jonas’ portfolio managers.
The transparency, communication was very effective. A big part of our decision was that Jonas had a strong interest in understanding what we did and wanted to support our growth journey.
There were times where maybe it was going to happen and maybe it wasn’t, but it was just really the right fit. Jonas has a secret sauce of doing this over and over again. We also valued Jonas’ track record of buying companies and not flipping them or amalgamating their entities together.
We now have the backing, the discipline, diligence, reporting, and other metrics and tools to use to improve both our operational efficiency and profitability.
Because of COVID, we have never had a single face-to-face meeting. However, we work with the Jonas team on a daily basis and have developed a great relationship with them. That says a lot when you can conduct a transaction like this and get it done.
We are coming up on a year now since acquisition and we’re still rolling, so it was absolutely the right opportunity for us.
Can you describe your experience with the pre-acquisition process?
If I think of an analogy, I would say it was a decathlon. It takes time from your first introductory conversations to where things start to accelerate. You are dealing with different types of analysis on different days.
When thinking of a decathlon, you are throwing a shotput, the picking up a javelin, then running the hurdles, then sprinting, etc. You get that variety of experience from different analysis, discussions, verification and challenging of the information.
While you’re doing that, you’re still trying to size up the situation – is this the right opportunity for us? Are we at the right level? Then there are the deal terms…does it all work? And don’t forget, you still need to run your growing, evolving business.
Let’s move forward to life post-acquisition. Can you describe life at Ineo after the Jonas acquisition in terms of the people, the products, the services, etc.?
The transaction happens and there is the initial transition of onboarding everybody into a much larger organization and some infrastructure changes.
You go in and you have to be able to understand that there are going to be some changes, but that overall is a positive experience. We’re still rolling and doing what we do best.
Jonas lets their companies act with a lot more independence/autonomy from the standpoint of “business as usual” versus “we were integrated with four different companies. Now we’re sharing a CTO and a CPO and we have all these different pieces.”
We do what we do, with the same people that did what we did before, but have better tools/resources and are able to step into some larger opportunities because we’ve got the backing of a company like Jonas.
We consider it quite an accomplishment and are proud of the fact that we were acquired by a company with this track record.
You touched on autonomy, which brings me to my next point.
At Jonas, we often talk about our ABC model. Which is Autonomy, our decentralized operating model. Buy & Hold Forever, which allows us to invest in the long-term. And then lastly, our Culture of Sharing Best Practices, which is learning from the Jonas or Constellation family of software companies.
How has your experience aligned with these 3 differentiators?
My experience has triangulated very well with these.
My partners and I are all serial entrepreneurs. We did what needed to be done when we needed to do it, and whatever the result was, we owned it one way or another. In this particular case, the autonomy and the ability to run the business has been very important.
I work very closely with some of the Jonas leadership. At one point, it was almost on a daily basis, and it certainly is on a multi-weekly basis.
It is great bringing up a situation and someone saying they have seen something similar in another Jonas business before. It has been extremely helpful asking for other’s experiences with things like an outsourced Chief Security Officer or marketing firm and details on hosting before we set off on our own.
The autonomy to act on what we need with the ability to garner input (sometimes input that is actually contradictory to what we might have thought), has helped us navigate through some challenging times with COVID.
The autonomy and the ability to acquire knowledge from best practices has been a positive experience for sure.
What tips and advice would you give to a business owner thinking of selling their software company?
Number one is to consider holistically what does this mean for your business, your life’s work, the team that helped build that life’s work, and then the clients that you serve.
We had some clients that were concerned that we would be acquired by one of their competitors. We had other clients that wanted to be that acquirer. And in this particular case, for us to go to a completely neutral acquirer, that was going to be good for every client and hopefully for every employee, was a good outcome.
Of course you’ll have some transition. We’ve had some. But that has to be expected with an acquisition. When you put all those ingredients into that incredibly large decision process, you really have to provide that weight to all of those factors because they’re interrelated for the success of it.