One of our previous blog posts highlighted how Jonas is a different type of acquirer. We like to talk about our ABCs in terms of how we are unique:
- Buy & Hold Forever
- Culture of Sharing Best Practices
We’d like to cover each of these topics in more detail in a three-part series. The first part here will focus on the first pillar, Autonomy.
So what do we mean when we say Autonomy is a key differentiator of Jonas? We figured a good place to start is a quote from Constellation Software’s (Jonas’ parent company) founder and CEO, Mark Leonard:
“Constellation Software’s strategy is to be a good owner of hundreds (and perhaps someday thousands) of growing autonomous small businesses that generate high returns on capital. Our strategy is unusual. Most CEO’s of public companies would rather run a single big business – perhaps two or three big businesses, but rarely 200 businesses. They expect (or hope) to get above-average returns on capital by pursuing economies of scale and by crushing or acquiring their smaller competition…We recognize that economies of scale, centralized management and world-class talent competing in large and growing markets can be a great business-building formula. But, it isn’t what we do. We seek out vertical market software businesses where motivated small teams composed of good people, can produce superior results in tiny markets….What we offer our BU Managers is autonomy, an environment that supports them in mastering vertical market software management skills, and the chance to build an enduring and competent team in a ‘human-scale’ business…Our employees, and the customer relationships that those employees have built and fostered over many years, provide our competitive advantage.”
~ Mark Leonard, Founder & CEO, Constellation Software, Inc.
At Jonas we have acquired over 95 businesses. We have a decentralized structure and do not seek to take over the day to day operations of the companies who join the Jonas family through an acquisition. A key success factor in vertical market software is focus – the people in charge of the businesses we acquire have specific expertise of their industry as well as customer and employee relationships that we want to preserve. A decentralized model empowers these people to make important decisions, trusting that they know what is best for the business.
While we are decentralized, there are some things that will change post acquisition. For example, Jonas’ parent company is publicly traded, so ensuring that financials flow through the proper systems is important for mandatory reporting purposes. With that being said, decisions regarding operations are left up to business units. After you sell your business to Jonas, it should still feel like you own your business post-acquisition… as if you are still spending your personal money as you make investment and hiring decisions.
While we do offer autonomy, we also realize the challenges business operators face working alone and how valuable it can be to join a larger software organization that offers autonomy but also a network of like-minded software business leaders, many of whom encounter similar problems. And despite many different countries, currencies and verticals at Jonas, we have some common metrics and financial guidelines for our businesses that unite us and allow us to benchmark performance. These ideas relate to our culture of sharing best practices, which is something we will cover in detail in the third part of our blog series here. Here are a few notes from our business leaders who have joined the Jonas family via acquisition related to post-acquisition autonomy:
“One of Jonas’ key success factors is autonomy and decentralization. Since selling my software company to Jonas in 2012, I’ve continued to run my business independently while being able to tap into the knowledge and best practices from other Jonas companies.”
~ Eric Rennagel, Founder & CEO, My Media Box
“I also liked the decentralized model and I felt that MCR would be able to operate as a separate entity within the Jonas organization and it would enable us to keep the same management team in place which I thought would give us continuity and I thought that was important for the team”
~ Matthew Gatter, Previous Managing Director, MCR Systems
“Once you are here, you are given the autonomy to make the changes that you feel are necessary. Jonas values the proprietary knowledge and experience that lives within each of the software companies that we acquire. I think it’s one of the secret sauces of what makes Jonas successful: that we don’t try to change that…we try to leverage that experience to build better businesses.”
~Jim Fedigan – Group CEO, Jonas Club & Hospitality Portfolio