Preview with Emcee Robert Antoniades, Co-Founder & General Partner, Information Venture Partners.
October 13, 2020 | Jani Tsui
Robert Antoniades is looking forward to this year’s virtual event and shares his thoughts on the speaker line-up, networking opportunities and the M & A landscape for tech companies. Robert co-founded Information Venture Partners in 2014 and has led investments in and currently serves on the Board of Thoughtexchange, Procurify, Jirav, Flybits, PostBeyond and Q4. He is interested in finding the disruptive ideas and entrepreneurs that believe new or better information is foundational to business. We recently sat down with Robert to talk about this year’s new virtual conference format and to get his thoughts on tech M & A.
As this year’s TECHEXIT Now| East emcee, what are you looking forward to with this year’s conference?
RA: We have an impressive lineup of speakers and sessions this year and I am always interested in learning from others who are great at what they do. Even though TECHEXIT Now is virtual, there promises to be several opportunities for interaction. I’m looking forward to the social elements and the content of the terrific sessions and speakers in the line-up.
Last year, I was a keynote speaker at TECHEXIT Vancouver. I was so impressed with the quality of presentations, discussions, speakers and data that I became this year’s TECHEXIT East emcee.
Who do you think should attend and why is it perhaps more important than ever?
RA: Our content focus is consistent with previous conferences. Attendees will hear from founders and their C-teams, venture capitalists, angel investors and the experts that facilitate the biggest deals in Canada.
Everybody is looking at exits and what it means for them, and this topic is as relevant as it’s ever been. In a year where there has been some really big exit events, there is so much more to cover and learn. Whether you are planning to sell in the near-term or are getting prepared for “someday,” there is a lot of value in attending.
Can you share your thoughts on the M & A current landscape?
RA: We are seeing more IPOs than just about any time in the last 20 years, as well as reverse RTOs through SPACs. There is increased M & A interest and activity by strategic acquirers , albeit for truly complementary assets, and now private equity investors who are coming to the table because they see the long-term value in technology companies. It is an exciting time for all exits but especially M&A activity due to the new class of acquirors.
How important is it for entrepreneurs to be “disruptive” in this time and what does that look like?
RA: Disruptions means different things to different people. There are two kinds of disruptors: those who change the game (revolutionary) and those who change the rules of the game (evolutionary). Both kinds of disruptors exist to advance a specific cause (i.e. society or operation of an industry). There is a multitude of directions disruption can take, and what I like about that is it keeps you energized and challenged.
What advice do you have for tech companies preparing to acquire new assets in this season?
RA: If you are an acquirer, COVID has changed the game. Traditional due diligence is different in that people are no longer as easily able to travel to meet face-to-face and see businesses in operation. It can still be done, but you have to quarantine. We are still going to have the in-person meetings but majority will be done virtually.
Once an acquisition is made, there is the additional challenge of how to virtually integrate your new acquisition in the current environment. A good corporate culture is always a harbinger of success and will help this process immensely.
What do you see as the long-term outlook for tech M & A?
RA: The number of tech companies is growing and they all need an exit. We are going to see superstar companies achieve superb exits and we are also going to see companies that aren’t going to get the superb valuations, even though they have valuable assets to offer their acquirer. We can expect to see a combination of super-premium and normal exits, and even some not so good outcomes.
In super-premium M & A we have a flip on who has the power. The seller has so many suitors and is better able to dictate price and terms such as what happens to key people and more. It is and will be interesting to watch.
Join Robert and Canada’s leading tech entrepreneurs and deal-makers at TECHEXIT Now I Eastern Timezone edition (November 18-19) Register today