The potential for technology to make or break a deal in private equity has never been greater than it is today. And the right decisions can't be made without understanding how the technology will fit within the wider business strategy - a thorough review of the company’s technology assets is vital. We speak to M&A Integration and Tech DD Specialist, Hutton Henry, about managing intricate projects and providing insights into cutting-edge technologies to pinpoint liabilities and uncover growth opportunities.
Q. When you’re at a networking event, how do you describe your independent career status, and where you focus your work?
I specialise in Tech due diligence and advisory. It's like buying a house, as I act like a 'surveyor' for your tech investment. I check the 'structural integrity'—the code, security, the team behind it—making sure you're buying something that's valuable, secure and has the foundations to grow. Once you've 'moved in' I work with the team to make the best of the new 'home'.
Q. What are the specific benefits that you, as an independent, offer to the operating teams/portfolio company leadership? How do you explain the value your expertise brings?
The care taken to understand the operating teams, their challenges and help them through periods of growth. Pre-deal we (all three parties) need to understand why the team arrived to current status, the risks to be addressed and opportunities that can be leveraged to help improve offerings or accelerate growth. Post-deal it's helping the team hit the the road running, to scale and optimise their tech function.
Q. Why do you think there is increasing demand for independent expertise with PE operating teams?
Choice, speed, specialist knowledge and flexibility. Independents and firms often work alongside each other and, combined, this presents the best value to investors and the portfolio.
Q. Describe a recent or successful assignment in terms of scope, duration and any particular highlights in the outcomes.
I helped a PE buyer understand the risks of acquiring a tech business that had a growing book of business but was operating a legacy software product.
During this process I helped the target firm put together a business plan to replace this system. It transpired that the true costs were 6x more than initially thought. I helped the CEO and tech team to prepare their presentation to the new buyer in a more engaging way.
Post-deal, I helped to provide oversight of the new software project delivery over the next 18 months. A great example of all three parties working in unison to get the deal over the line and optimise the company.
Kudos to the management for stepping up and the buyer for their guidance on what 'good' looked like.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone about to embark on an independent career as to how they can provide the best results for a client, while fulfilling their own career path?
Get used to being nervous. The best thing about being independent is that you can easily 'slot in' and quickly start to help firms make a difference, but on long term engagements I would advise not getting too comfortable to the point that you're 'part of the furniture'.
Always ensure you're challenging yourself, learning new perspectives and approaches that you can provide and pollinate between clients. That way you'll keep providing additional value and remain valuable in the market.
Consulting engagements should always feel a little uncomfortable - if the solutions were easy to come by, clients wouldn’t need help to find them.
Need any support on your product evaluation and roadmap, technology and architecture, cybersecurity, data and analytics, organization and processes, or technology benchmarking? Engage with talent like Hutton by posting a project now, or by talking to us about how to build up a pool of similar talent in the field.