Why I will not sell Wave
Selling Wave is something that I get asked a lot about. When will I sell, how much for and what will I do afterwards. I would be telling fibs if I said I’ve never thought about the answers to these questions, but it’s not something that has ever really motivated me to succeed and build a bigger and better business.
I am approached maybe once a month about selling. I’ve had 2 serious conversations in the 20 years I’ve been trading. To be honest, neither ever really sounded interesting enough but the real reason for not selling in the past is that I’ve always felt that there’s more to come from Wave and I’m not even willing to consider it until I’ve achieved all I want to achieve.
The valuations and money circulating around for recruitment technology businesses at the moment is frighteningly high. As I said, I’m approached about once a month, with some more serious than others. I rarely respond now other than with a “thanks but no thanks” type reply. My resolve not to sell has increased of late when I see what happens to most of these businesses after they’ve been sold – especially when it comes to selling to the big businesses.
Many were amazing, market-leading businesses, until they sold out. Then the passion went, the innovation, the drive, the brand. Once you become part of another business, the acquired business loses its vision and direction. It needs to move in the direction of the bigger business so their intentions become yours.
To me, these acquired businesses become just another business all about profits and shareholders and systems. I’m sure there are areas where these companies improve the business, increase performance and the bottom line – and I guess that’s the point. But it often seems to be at the expense of a bit of old fashioned service. Clients might once have felt able to call the company to help with something, or to make an improvement on a service, or even request a little favour around payment terms – now they’re dealing with a faceless business where time is money and unless you’re the biggest client they have you get short shrift and sent a contract or retainer to simply speak with someone. Of course, a business has to protect itself to ensure it’s still profitable but I think it’s the speed of the change these businesses go through which causes such upset amongst their once loyal band of clients.
Within the recruitment technology space the issues are compounded when you consider many clients rely on these businesses day to day as most are built on a SaaS model.
It’s why I have become more determined NOT to sell Wave as I am not keen for us to go down this route after building up our reputation over so many years. I’m clear about what we want to do in this space. We’re all about getting as many great candidates to our clients as possible, to build a business companies can rely on and construct a legacy for many years to come. That’s what matters to me and I will protect that for as long as I can.