Exit – Series 3, episode 1 – Exploratory talks

In: Exit Sitcom / 5 comments

18 Oct 2010

I find this story important from the point of view of entrepreneurs as a real example of how long it takes for something like this to happen, of the whole process and the emotions involved. So let’s make a series about how the process unfolded, a series in which I will endeavor to say as many interesting elements as I can, without disclosing confidential information. We start with Episode 1: First date.

On 24 September 2009 (I just checked my emails – this is the correct date, not in December as I mistakenly remembered in the interviews I had last week) I received an email (I get 40 non-spam emails a day) that went something like this:

Dear Mr. Georgescu,

I represent Allegro, part of Naspers. We are a hot shot company and we’re interested in opportunities to invest in companies that are complementary to us, in Romania. If you are interested in a discussion, tells us when and we’ll come to Bucharest.

Signed “Corporate Development Manager”

I was telling you in a different post that guys in this job position are the ones who deal with buying other companies :-). In any case, knowing that Allegro is mainly interested in auctions, I honestly thought they were going to ask me for some feedback on okazii.ro. Anyway, I don’t refuse such meetings out of principle, so – after two emails dealing with logistics – we met in my office on 9 October, 2009. See how weeks pass with such processes? This is how we reach a year of “negotiations”. The meeting lasted an hour; how do you imagine a first date in which no one is certain if there is an opportunity on the table or not went? They felt it was awkward to ask directly “are you selling the company?” because you really never know how an entrepreneur would react, and I wasn’t sure they were interested in ePayment. Maybe they weren’t at that time… We talked about the weather, about eCommerce, about the companies in the Romanian internet business environment. They presented Allegro to me; I presented ePayment to them (it had the most relevance in the context).

When I saw the level of interest in ePayment, I threw a generic clue, just in case – perhaps they take the hint: “I am a serial entrepreneur; here is some of my history, other companies in the group, some of them with different investments. I am constantly looking for alternatives and strategic partnerships”. The word “soft” is strategic for an acquisition. Connoisseurs understand what I’m talking about. Their faces lit up and so they asked if I would consider an exit. I said yes and so they started asking more practical things, a few numbers, but most of all “features”. Here we had a problem – since they were potential competition (you remember that both companies had the same goal of regional development), we couldn’t go into too much detail and disclose too much. Anyway, we more or less “groped our way”.

They left and we agreed that the next steps would be for them to decide if they are really interested or not. If they are, they should send an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) and some presentation documents about themselves.

Note: This entire series is inspired from reality but it is not a word-for-word translation of it. I adapted all of the events/stages/documents/facts that had to do with the transaction in such a way as to a) not violate confidentiality and b) be as useful as possible to entrepreneurs that haven’t gone through something like this yet.

(English version by Teodora Popescu)

Original Romanian version

Exit – Seria 3, ep. 1 – Tatonari

Mi se pare importanta aceasta poveste din perspectiva antreprenorilor, ca exemplu “pe bune” despre durata in care se intampla asa ceva, procese, emotii. Sa facem deci un serial despre cum a decurs procesul, serial in care ma voi stradui sa spun cat mai multe elemente de interes, fara insa a divulga elemente confidentiale. Incepem cu episodul 1: Prima intalnire

Primesc in data de 24 septembrie 2009 (tocmai am verificat in mailuri – asta e data corecta, nu decembrie cum eronat mi-am adus aminte in interviurile de saptamana trecuta) un mail (eu primesc cam 40 de mailuri non spam pe zi) care spune cam asa:

Dear Mr. Georgescu,

Reprezint Allegro, parte a Naspers. Suntem mari si tari si ne intereseaza oportunitati de a investi in companii complementare cu noi, in Romania. Daca te intereseaza o discutie, spune cand si venim noi la Bucuresti.

Semnat “Corporate Development Manager”

Va ziceam eu in alt post ca tinerii cu jobul asta sunt cei care cumpara companii :-). In tot cazul, eu stiind ca Allegro e interesat mai ales de licitatii, m-am gandit ca sa va spun sincer ca ma intreaba ceva feedback despre okazii.ro. In tot cazul nu refuz din principiu astfel de intalniri, asa ca – dupa doua mailuri logistice n-am intalnit la mine in birou pe 9 octombrie 2009. Ca sa vedeti cum trec saptamanile una dupa alta in astfel de intamplari. Asa ajungem la un an de “negocieri”. Intalnire de o ora, cam cum iti imaginezi ca este prima intalnire in care nu ii este nimanui clar daca exista o oportunitatae pe masa sau nu. Lor le e tarsa sa intrebe direct “vinzi compania?” ca niciodata nu stii cum reactioneaza un antreprenor, iar mie nu imi era inca clar ca sunt interesati de ePayment. Poate nici nu erau la momentul acela…. Vorbim despre vreme, despre ecommerce, despre companiile din internetul romanesc. Imi prezinta Allegro, le prezint ePayment (avea cea mai multa legatura cu subiectul).

Cand am vazut nivelul de interes legat de ePayment arunc o vorba, la modul generic, sa fie – poate prinde: “eu sunt modelul antreprenor in serie, iata ceva istorie, alte companii din grup, unele cu investitii. Ma uit in permanenta dupa alternative si parteneriate strategice”. Strategic este cuvantul “soft” pentru achizitie. Cine stie intelege. Se lumineaza oamenii la fata si intreaba daca as considera un exit. Spun ca da si incep sa ma intrebe cateva lucruri mai aplicate. Ceva numere, dar mai ales “features”. Aici am avut o problema, caci ei fiind o potentiala competitie (va amintiti ca ambele companii aveau acelasi obiectiv de crestere regionala) nu am putut sa detaliem/divulgam prea mult. Ma rog, destul de “pe pipaitelea”.

Pleaca si ramane ca pasi urmatori ei sa se hotarasca daca chiar sunt interesati pe bune sau nu, daca da sa trimita un NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) si ceva documente de prezentare despre ei.

Nota: Tot acest serial este inspirat din realitate dar nu este o traducere “mot-a-mot” a acesteia. Am adaptat toate evenimentele/etapele/documentele/faptele tranzactiei astfel incat ele a) sa nu violeze confidentialitatea fenomenului si b) sa fie cat mai utile antreprenorilor care nu au trecut prin asa ceva inca.

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Marius Morariu

October 18th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Foarte interesanta intriga.Sa vedem ce urmeaza.Mi-am luat popcorn! 😀

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Paul Marculescu

October 21st, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Se anunta captivant serialul asta. Stau cu degetul pe butonul de refresh, cam cum o intrebam pe vremuri pe maica-mea la balcon daca a-nceput Dallasu.

Pana la posturile tale, cand citeam articole de business ma simteam ca pe discovery channel la emisiunile despre zboruri spatiale. Nu pricepeam nimic, dar ma puteam lauda la prieteni ca sunt genul care se uita la documentare.

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Tweets that mention Exit – Seria 3, ep. 1 – Tatonari | Radu Georgescu -- Topsy.com

October 18th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Radu Georgescu, Toader Mihai Claudiu and ANIS, Valerica Dragomir. Valerica Dragomir said: #decitit -Detalii despre investitia Allegro la ePayment RT @GeorgescuRadu: Blog Post: Serial "Exit" – seria 3, ep.1 – http://bit.ly/cG0Uts […]

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Exit – Seria 3, ep. 2 – Daca ma vrei | Radu Georgescu

October 25th, 2010 at 10:24 am

[…] reamintim ca pe 9 octombrie 2009 ne-am intalnit prima data, in Bucuresti. Mai […]

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