This morning it seemed a very long time since February 1991 when Annrai, Sean and I started IONA.
In those very early days, one of my mentors told me that the chief responsibility of a CEO to his staff is to improve the CV of each and every staff member during their tenure with the company.
It’s a principle I tried to uphold during my two terms, and 12 years, as CEO of IONA. I certainly don’t claim a 100% success rate, but I honestly feel very privileged to have worked with each IONAian over the years since 1991, and sincerely hope that each and every career immensely benefited as a result. There are, and have been, wonderful people at IONA, and I cherish all those years with unbelievable fondness. The deep experience, and the proud development of each individual’s capabilities, will be something I hope that each person can reflect upon positively for the rest of their life.
When Software AG wrote a formal letter to the Chairman of IONA earlier this year, they triggered under Irish corporate law a lengthy and delicate process which has eventually resulted in today’s announcement. During the process, a large number of companies were contacted, which resulted in a shorter list of potential bidders. These included both trade companies, and private equity houses, who were then each invited to undertake detailed due diligence, including face to face meetings with the executive team and myself as a major shareholder and Board member.
Ultimately, a number of formal bids were made. The IONA Board, after careful consideration and detailed professional advice, have decided to recommend the Progress offer to our shareholders. Many factors weighed on that decision, heavily complicated by multitude of requirements under Irish, European and US legislation. In the thoughtful view of our Board, the Progress offer price – in cash – not only makes sense for our shareholders, but also Progress have the capability to execute (ie complete) the transaction; the acquisition should meet the requirements and expectations of continued service and quality to our customers and partners; and, from what we as a Board were able to discern from the character of the leadership teams of the various bidders, Progress’s values and culture appears to be the closest to our own.
I have known Joe Alsop for many years. I have no doubt that he feels the same responsibility I held when I was (twice) CEO, to improve the CV of each and every staff member during their service with the company.
I sincerely believe that there is a wonderful opportunity in the global enterprise middleware sector, and – assuming the deal is ultimately approved later this year – I fully encourage the combined Progress and IONA teams to (in due course) extremely aggressively compete in this vicious market. I will watch with interest.