Zendesk helped reinvent customer service and the help desk#. As the company's story says, even when you are working on something with the potential to be very helpful, gaining momentum requires a bit of patience, especially when what you offer is different from "the way we do things here".
Another aspect of the Zendesk story is worth noting — the founders thought through what it would mean to be acquired by a large enterprise:
“It’s really hard to say no to a lot of money, especially money that can be life-changing to you and your employees. And because you can’t talk to anyone about acquisition talks, it’s an incredibly isolating experience,” he said. “But creating Zendesk was never just about the money.” He adds that it was a tough decision to turn down high acquisition offers, but he and his co-founders felt strongly that the company wouldn’t be the right fit within another company.
They feared joining a large enterprise giant and being unhappy or, worse, that their product — which they had spent so much time working on — would be shelved.
Indeed, when you put so much work into the care of details for the sake of a simpler experience with a product, the business that delivers that product needs to be aligned behind that DNA.
It means being focused on the mission and executing on it. Selling out on one would seriously undermine selling out on the other. Building to flip causes a lot of heartaches for everyone but a select few who cash in on the hard work of many. In some cases, the acquiring company is buying just a story, which makes it quite difficult to realize value out of the investment, as charming as it might have seemed.
Plenty of studies backed up the failure rate for mergers and acquisitions, putting it at somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. Often due diligence completely skips the people side of a merger.
Whether the acquiring company is looking to boost company's performance or cut costs, culture is hard to replicate. Successful customer experiences are the result of a business culture that is keen on keeping its promises.
So yes, it is unique to see a team of founders stick together and by their mission like Zendesk's. Not in a "isn't it cute" and more in a "they have integrity" kind of way.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.