Week of May 16, 2022
Welcome to the M&A Alerts – 2022 edition!
It’s been awhile since I’ve written my column commenting on what’s been happening in the M&A Advisor community. Over 10 years ago, I decided to hang my hat in writing a column to focus on my own deal making. In that time period, I have been involved with 5 SPAC raises of over $4 billion and 4 deSPACs of nearly $13.5 billion, as well as a privatization and subsequent IPO of a $15 billion data analytics company. And as every deal maker knows with every closed and successful deal, there are scores of other deals that you work on that never see the light of day. Sourcing and working on live and not-so-live-deals can be an all-consuming process.
In addition, over the last 10 years, I’ve had a pretty active family life with three young daughters and an older son. Baptisms, birthdays, 1st communions, confirmations and graduations, as well as COVID lockdown virtual teaching classes consumed all the rest of my limited bandwidth.
So why am I again writing a column and coming back heading up The M&A Advisor, even though I’m still very much doing deals and I still have an active family life? Well, as with almost everything today, you can thank the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
I’m sure everyone has their own story regarding the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is my story.
My Pandemic Story
On March 12, 2020, I was on a plane accompanied by my wife and youngest daughter from New York’s LaGuardia to West Palm Beach, Florida airport. As I have for the previous 13 years, I like to take a little family vacation the weekend before the 14th Annual Distressed Investing Summit and Turnaround Awards. For my daughter’s 9th birthday, we would drive up to Orlando to Disneyworld.
In the days leading up to my flight to Florida, several people who were registered to attend our Florida event were frantically calling our office to ask if we were going to cancel or postpone the event due to the COVID. We told everyone that in the 20 years we’ve been having events that we’ve never canceled, and we weren’t going to start now.
But, the world and God had different plans, apparently, and as I was debarking the plane in Palm Beach, we heard that Disneyworld was going to close their entire park by the weekend — something they haven’t done since opening in 1973. Although my 9-year old daughter was happy that we were able to take the weekend in Disneyworld, due to limited travel and impending shutdowns, we decided to postpone our 14th Annual event. We immediately communicated to our attendees that we were going to postpone the event to sometime in June 2020, probably in New York City.
It’s A Small World After All …
From March 13-15, 2020, my family and I went to three parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (if you haven’t been, the Star Wars’ Galaxy Edge experience certainly lives up to the $1 billion-plus Disney invested). We stayed at the Swan Hotel on Disney property which seemed to be only 50-60% occupied as many people canceled their plans since Disney announced they were closing. The parks seemed only about 60-70% capacity; a lot of locals seemed to come out on the last day when capacity seemed to be over 90% which is probably standard for Disney.
Disneyworld is a very different place when they’re about to shutdown operations. Usually Disney employees are trained to stay in character where even after relieving yourself in the Men’s room, the cleaning staff greets you to “Have a Magical Day!” However, as the weekend wore on, employees and interns began coming out of character. Employees would speak to each other on the trams complaining how corporate was kicking them out of their temporary housing and telling them to go home.
Disney also has a coveted international internship program. As we were waiting in line to meet Chewbacca, one Disney cast member from Australia was in tears because her internship was ending three months too soon. Very sad situation for many, but it did put a bit of hamper on our vacation. We wanted to escape from the world, but apparently, during this time, even Disneyworld wasn’t immune from world events. (Pun intended).
During the lockdowns, Disney shifted a lot of its resources in launching and building up its subscriber streaming service, Disney-plus. It’s now the 3rd largest streaming service behind Netflix and Amazon in terms of subscribers after only two years.
Given M&A Advisor’s main business was live, in-person events, like Disney, we too needed to pivot. We shifted all of our 2020 events into virtual events; we hosted webinars in July and August 2021; and finally held live in-person events in September and November 2021. With Omicron spiking, we were forced to postpone once again our Florida event to September 15-16, 2022 in New York City.
With the canceling, shifting and juggling of live events, I realized that our pivot needed to leverage what we’ve really built over the past two decades: a network of dedicated M&A, financing and restructuring professionals. One of the huge benefits of attending our summits and awards galas was meeting with other M&A professionals who also had consummated award-winning deals.
In addition to connecting at in-person M&A events, what if the M&A Advisor community could connect throughout the entire year via an online member community? What if rather than be another social media platform with all the distractions like LinkedIn and Facebook, this online community focused on delivering practical solutions to its members’ unmet needs or requests?
Well, after over a year of research and development, I am excited to announce that we have launched our own online community for the M&A Advisor network, which we call M&A Connects. We’ve partnered with Bricleir, a venture-backed company that has built their platform for the venture capital community. M&A Connects is powered by Bricleir’s robust platform, and I’m excited to see how the M&A Advisor community embraces and utilizes this platform.
More to Come …
In the coming weeks, in addition to Roger’s Corner, we’ll be adding more to M&A Alerts, including:
- Of Interest – news of interest to our members]
- M&A Connects Member Requests – inks to Unmet Needs on M&A Connects
- M&A Connects Member Spotlight
- Metrics Meter – Analysis of macro and micro trends in the M&A industry
Think of M&A Alerts as your community newsletter. If you have anything you think you be of interest, please email email@example.com.
The Worst is Over …
Needless to say, all of us were affected in very real ways by the pandemic. I have personally lost family and friends due to COVID. I’m hoping your businesses come back and thrive even more so. I pray that you and yours remain healthy and safe.
Upcoming Events & Awards Programs
The M&A Advisor is excited to present the following event series, a combination of virtual and LIVE in-person events, including:
The final deadline is Thursday, May 19, 2022
The early deadline is Thursday, June 2, 2022