Should You Escape the Clutches of Oracle (or any other acquiring company)?

Ever wonder what you would do if your company was acquired by a company you didn’t like? 


That’s what many people at our client Hyperion Solutions had to recently consider when Oracle acquired them last month.


The mood at Hyperion before that was upbeat.  After all, they were in sexy BI in the right hand corner of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and approaching $1 billion. Things felt great and then Oracle called.


Some of the Hyperion employees just went through this in 2005 when Oracle bought Peoplesoft (ouch!).  What do you do when you feel Oracle’s culture – or any other acquiring company’s culture – is not right for you?


Your first reaction may be to bolt for the door as fast as you can.


Not so fast!  It’s worth taking the time to assess your options.  If you are fortunate enough to be considered for a position within the new company, you should seriously consider it.


A lot of people make the mistake of assuming, “If I go to the acquiring company, I’ll be miserable.”  Like an iceberg, 90% is hidden underwater.  The 10% at the surface might not look good, but what about the rest?  What they should be asking themselves is “Would I be better off giving the new company a try?”  


We think yes.  And here’s our “Take Five” why:

  1. In the short term, you will maintain your employment. It’s always easier to get a job when you have a job.

  2. By joining the new company, you continue to receive a steady paycheck. This is critical if you have expenses like a mortgage where an interruption in salary could be devastating.  A steady paycheck is better than severance pay!

  3. You’ll meet new people and expand your network of contacts within the industry.

  4. You will be working with some smart people. The acquiring company didn’t get in the driver’s seat because they hired dumb employees.

  5. By adding a successful company to your resume, you’ll increase your marketability.

What many people forget is that in the long run everything is short term.  As someone who was about to join Oracle said: “It’s not a life sentence. I am free to leave at any time. And I know that recruiters are always trying to pull people out of Oracle, because the company has a strong management team.”   This woman was smart, looking at her options from both career and short term perspectives.

So try and put your emotions aside when you are confronted with the alternative of joining a company in which, at first blush, you would not want to work. Instead, treat it like you would any business problem – analyze the options available and carefully weigh the alternatives.


Heard any rumors about your company lately?


About whelanstone

I'm originally from New York - lost my accent when I moved down to Florida - and made San Francisco my home in 1985. I've been recruiting & coaching for 12 years, with the best partner (Fred) you could ask for, and love what I do. When I'm not busy working I write screenplays (haven't sold one yet) and travel - Morocco this past summer was fantastic. Fred and I started this blog because we wanted to share what we've learned along the way. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as we do writing it.
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3 Responses to Should You Escape the Clutches of Oracle (or any other acquiring company)?

  1. deannaglory says:

    My friends at First Republic just went through this. Merrill Lynch bought them. Most joined ML and are happy. As for me, as much as I loved it while there, I’m glad I’m out of banking altogether 🙂

  2. erabbani says:

    I have been on the other end, the acquiring company, a couple of times – and have seen individuals who exhibit adaptability flourish – because their knowledge combined with a willingness to learn become very valuable as their higher-regarded but inflexible peers lose focus and eventually jump ship.

  3. mhcooper4 says:

    First, maintain a positive attitude and very high work standards for yourself through the transition. Don’t take your eye off the ball. If you continue to perform at a high level, act professionally, don’t devolve into negative speculation about what changes might happen (because the truth is you don’t really know), and approach each day with positive, constructive energy, the new company will quickly identify you as a leader and an asset. They will WANT to find more opportunities for you. If your negative, not only will you reduce your odds of success, you will drag down your colleagues and friends around you.

    Second, keep your options open. Network. If you have a good reputation, the likelihood is your phone will start ringing with job leads the day the acquisition is announced. Pick up the phone, but just to listen. Don’t start scheduling interviews the day you find out you’ve been acquired. When a company is acquired, the integration process unfolds slowly, so you have time. If you jump too quickly, you may miss out on retention bonuses that may be offered to key personnel. If you’re company is acquired it may be exactly the right time to entertain outside opportunities, but in most cases you won’t know that with complete certainty. If you move with too much haste, you could end up jumping to a company with more flaws than the one your trying to avoid. Learn from your interactions with the people from the acquiring company what you can about what things are important to you: culture, opportunities, advancement, training, compensation, benefits, etc. In parallel, use your outside network to find out if your “dream job” has coincidentally opened up at another company. Being acquired by another company is a very legitimate reason to leave your current job. Other companies won’t be surprised you’re looking around.

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