Per Pettersen, impact.com’s Executive Chairman and CSO, discusses the secret to the company’s highly successful M&A strategy, which since 2020 has brought influencer platform Activate, analytics and automation platform Affluent and full-funnel revenue attribution specialist Trackonomics into the impact.com fold.
What type of acquisition does impact.com look for, and what kind of problems make you look for acquisitions?
Our true north is to provide our customers with the best products and services possible. When we come across a need for a client we think: should we build, buy, or partner to service this requirement? We see acquisitions as being good when the functionality is different from our core offerings, or the technology that the target company has can easily be integrated with our own. Acquisitions tend to get complicated when there is a lot of overlap with existing impact.com technology, yet not enough to warrant a direct migration of customers.
In the last 18 months or so, impact.com has bought Affluent, Activate and Trackonomics. Were these easy acquisitions to spot, and how do you go about identifying the best prospects?
We have a well-functioning M&A research and execution system at this company that sources deals through various means. These include our own research, internally from execs, and from our PE partners. We are very happy with the last few acquisitions because they extend our offering and allow us to bolster our value to brands, agencies and publishers.
Aside from technological desirability, what else do you look for in an acquisition to ensure it’s a good fit for impact.com?
Having the right fit with the target’s team is the most important factor, by far. Having said that, ensuring the target’s underlying tech is both inherently stable and scalable is also critical. I’ve learned that lesson through experience, and we take our time to ensure this is the case. After that it’s about doing the regular due diligence checks, such as speaking to the target’s customers – that kind of thing.
How difficult is it to integrate new acquisitions within impact.com, and how does it vary?
It really depends on the proximity to our core business. The further out from the core, the easier to integrate. Trackonomics and Affluent are both examples of this in that they facilitated us selling SaaS subscriptions into publishers and agencies, without extensive integration into the heart of our business – which focuses on brands and partnerships.
When searching for potential acquisitions, is it impact.com’s policy to acquire companies with proven commercial viability, or do you look at companies of all stages, shapes and sizes?
We look at companies of all kinds. It generally takes the same amount of time and effort to integrate any company, regardless of size, but we expect a target to be at least revenue driving, boast good or great growth, and demonstrate a convincing path to profitability – even though we like to invest in product after we acquire. At the moment, we’re on the hunt for technologically capable offerings, rather than service-based companies, as we already have a mature ecosystem approach to the services at impact.com.
The acquisitions we have already mentioned come from all around the world. Are there any hotbeds of activity, for example cities or countries, you keep a particular eye on?
These days venture capitalism and entrepreneurship are globally distributed, and not just found in traditional places like Silicon Valley. Impact.com is a global company with a great international culture, which is something we’re very proud of, and therefore we are confident it is possible to successfully integrate with any company, regardless of its geographical location. Countries outside of the US where we are currently seeing innovation especially relevant to our space are Canada, Israel, the UK, and Australia.
Looking at impact.com’s acquisitions over the past 18 months, they clearly fit very well within the business, and they harmonise very well with the work you already do. Does there come a time when you’ve made all the acquisitions you need?
We vehemently believe in the power of partnerships and ecosystems, and are constantly pushing to scale up our offering in these areas. I imagine we will always have an active M&A program, but our focus, and intention, is to home-grow key innovations in partnership with our customers. I think that is what separates the great companies from the good: the ability to innovate and bring valuable, transformative products and features to market at scale. It is so exciting to see that acceleration happening at impact.com, and we can’t wait to share the truly innovative products we are currently working on.