Building Habits to Reduce Due Diligence Mistakes
Private Equity investing has been described as a combination of art and science, calling on a wide range of disciplines to make good judgements. In that spirit, I wanted to share a few thoughts I use to test my own judgment. They all surround a central question: What am I missing?
Commercial Diligence Tips for Tech-Enabled Service Businesses
Many recent PE deals have targeted businesses that apply technology to help customers streamline processes which have previously been manual and “paper-based.”
Diligence Trappings of Lawn Sign Decisions
Regardless of where any of us stand on a political spectrum, there is a superbly valuable due diligence lesson for investment teams that derives from the behavioral sciences of psychology and politics. There is a dangerous trap that we refer to as the lawn sign decision.
Value Gen: Transitioning the Core Business
In search of higher multiples, investors and their advisors are increasingly pressuring companies to transition their core business to match “themes” that earn higher valuations. For instance, businesses that would rightly be described as professional services with just a hint of a technology base – such as a staffing service with a proprietary database – become “technology enabled…
Discovering Repeatable Growth
Over the years, I have heard multiple M&A professionals say “we don’t underwrite hopes and dreams,” by which they mean new tactics proposed, but not tested, by Management (and their bankers). What is not discussed as often are the new tactics that have been tested…but that are destined to work just once. These tactics are what we call unrepeatable growth stimulants, UGS (or just,…
Using Diligence and the Ownership Change to Leverage What Matters to Customers
Conducting commercial diligence that matters should equip the new owner and the leadership team with insights that can quickly make an impact on market share and pricing opportunities (among other opportunities).
Commercial Due Diligence and Value Generation via Network Effects
Many attractive investments are predicated on network effects – these are businesses that connect users, buyers, and/or suppliers. Companies like Visa, eBay, and LinkedIn have famously enjoyed the benefits of network effects to accrue immense, highly durable value. Outside of software, businesses such as recruiting, retailing, media, health provider networks, and many others, enjoy network…
Three Key Steps for Crafting a Robust Value Generation Plan
Value creation ("Value Gen") isn’t easy right now. Average transaction multiples are at their highest level in 10 years. More and more prospective targets have already been through multiple rounds of PE ownership, with the “easy and obvious” value improvements already made. Fewer proprietary deals seem to exist.
Price Sensitivity and the Opportunity to Improve Margins
Most commercial diligence projects will query the channel and the end-customers to measure price sensitivity. Most CIMs will have a graph indicating the degree to which customers are, or are not, sensitive to price – and suggesting room for margin enhancement. However, relying on customers’ or the channel’s expression or “vote” on price sensitivity can lead to false commercial diligence…
Uncovering a Platform Play
The common case: The target asset (i.e., the target company) has a demonstrated track record of running a good business, enjoys healthy margins and some nice growth. The research indicates that drivers of demand are strong and sustainable. But the diligence also surfaces the fact that none of the providers, including the target company, have a materially differentiated solution – and the market…