Most often after one of their peers is acquired by a larger competitor, business leaders at rival IT industry startups will harp on the notion that such a buyout kills the momentum and innovation ongoing at the company that has been purchased.
Such has been the case in the DLP (data loss prevention) space since de facto market leader Vontu was acquired by security giant Symantec in November 2007, but roughly 100 days after the deal was finalized, Joseph Ansanelli, the startup's founder and former CEO, claims that the post-buyout integration is moving forward just as he'd planned.
"Acquisitions of this kind are often hard to do, and if you look at the vast majority, most do not succeed -- but there are several key things that you need to get right to make it work, and we feel that we're doing a good job on those things," said Ansanelli, who now wears the title of vice president of DLP Solutions at Symantec.
The key to maintaining Vontu's growth while allowing Symantec to benefit from the technology it acquired -- beyond driving continued sales of the DLP vendor's existing products -- has been to stick to the roadmap agreed upon by the two firms during their deal making, he said.
Reporting directly to Symantec's chief operating officer, Enrique Salem, as part of a group solely focused on DLP, there has been no confusion that Vontu's skills would become lost in a sea of other technologies and companies acquired by Symantec, Ansanelli said.
By remaining true to its pre-acquisition promises not to alter Vontu's internal make-up or technological development plans, there has been none of the employee defection or organizational change that frequently occurs after such a transaction, the executive said.
And according to Symantec's latest survey of existing Vontu customers, he claims, those users interviewed were as satisfied with their level of support around its DLP technologies as they were before the merger.
Even more significant however, said Ansanelli, is the fact that Symantec remains committed to DLP as a major opportunity going forward, both as a standalone technology and as an element of its other security products.
"How we fit into the overall strategy for Symantec is really important, but I think if you look at the types of things [Symantec CEO] John Thompson has said, it's clear that we're a key to the company's long-term vision and that we fit very well into its plans," Ansanelli said. "When we were working on the [buyout] agreement, we talked a lot about the general strategy to integrate the company and made it one of the terms of the deal -- that's been a key to our success with this process."
The most immediate benefit to Vontu's business since the merger has been its ability to tap into Symantec's customer base and to leverage its 4,000-person strong worldwide sales team, he said, with open communication between the new business unit and the parent company serving to accelerate sales.