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 How to sell your Middle Eastern media firm - 7 lessons from Flip Media acquisition

yousef-flip.jpgSo you have a media firm based in the Middle East and eventually want to sell parts or all of it to interested buyers. How should you run your business to suit a great acquirer?

I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, CEO of Flip Media, a firm recently acquired by Publicis Groupe, at their lovely headquarter at Dubai Media City.

These are the top 7 lessons you can learn from their acquisition experience:

1. Engage with an institutional investor early
In 2006 Flip Media sold a significant equity stake to HSBC Private Equity Middle East - just 3-4 years after their inception. While it may sound too early in the life of a firm, engaging with an institutional investor will teach you great lessons in corporate governance, due diligence, and audit requirements - and provide you with the discipline required to even run your day-to-day operations.

2. Don’t hide investors from your employees
Many companies deal with their investors as some ghosts that need to be invisible from the employees! Having your employees involved in some general meetings with your investors, as Flip Media was doing regularly, will keep your employees motivated and on-track with your goals.

3. Surround yourself with great advisors
Having fantastic advisors will help you more than you think. Flip Media used to have technical, financial and strategic advisors listed as its advisory board.

4. Utilize M&A advisors
While your institutional investor will help you in a great way, an M&A expert will certainly be helpful in advising you on the most suitable acquirer in your specific industry. Flip Media used the services of M&A advisory firm Results International for their exit.

5. Exit for the right reasons
You are not selling a stake at your company to run away or just become rich. Make sure you are selling for the right reasons and you will find the right buyer. Flip’s co-founders viewed the acquisition as a natural step in Flip’s long-term evolution, not an end-goal.

6. Focus, not expand, your product line before selling
Your common sense might suggest that an acquirer would appreciate you being active in 10 different product lines; and that may urge you to launch new product line hastily just to show how big you are! But in reality you are better off with a couple of perfect products and services. Flip had actually exited from some of their products, long before being acquired. (Like Brand Central, which was a marketplace for advertisers and publishers in the Middle East)

7. Focus, not expand, your regional bases before selling
For the same reasons, a buyer appreciates regional focus. For example Flip used to have offices in Bahrain and Qatar, but the strategy of serving them from their base in Dubai turned out to be more successful than having offices in those countries.


Of course these are the items that we understand to be the top lessons from the Flip Media story, not necessarily how Flip managers would summarize as top lessons. But after having seen hundreds of such exits for the past five years, we can assure you that you will find your acquisition process much easier if you move along the above lines.




 DubaiBeat Interviews Google’s VP of Search Products & User Experience, Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer is the Vice President of Search Products & User Experience at Google, leading Google's product management efforts on search products. She joined Google in 1999 as Google's first female engineer and led the user interface and web server teams at that time. (Marissa has been featured in various publications, including Newsweek "10 Tech Leaders of the Future", Red Herring "15 Women to Watch", Business 2.0 "Silicon Valley Dream Team", BusinessWeek, Fortune, and Fast Company.) She exclusively talks to DubaiBeat.com on the sidelines the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda here in Dubai.


Listen to the audio version here:

You are directing user experience and product management at Google after starting as a user experience developer in early days. Would you please tell us more about your work in Google?

I work in the Product Management function. Is it looking at how do things work, how do they look, how do they meet the user’s needs. I work on products that are related to search. So core web search, Image search, News, our Geo products like Maps, Earth as well as Toolbar, our new Chrome product, iGoogle, etc. We are looking at what information needs meet the user and how do we meet those needs as part of the user experience.

It is great to see you hear in Dubai. Can you please tell us about the background of your experience with the World Economic Forum?

I am really excited because I am here in Dubai for the first time I arrived just this morning. It is a really vibrant and thriving city and I have always wanted to see it. So it is great being here. I have involved with the World Economic Forum for the past few years. I’ve occasionally attended Davos in a faculty capacity and I am excited to be here taking part in the Global Agenda Summit.

I understand you are here as a member of the Council on the Technology and Education. Can you tell us about your role in the Council specifically?

We met this afternoon to talk about some of the challenges for technology and education. The tools that we need to help bridge the gaps we see growing in the world as well as how education practice need to change; even separate from the technology issues. It is really interesting I think as it is a pivotal problem and we need to solve it together.

And my last question: How did you find Dubai so far?

Oh it’s been really really fun. I’ve got to see a little bit today, places like Mall of the Emirates and Palaces. I even got to go and visit the Google office which was the highlight of the day as it was good to see the blend of Google culture with the culture here in Dubai.



Filed under interviews

 Interview with Dave Sifry, Serial Entrepreneur (Founder of Technorati)

David Sifry is a serial entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. A blogosphere icon known most for founding Technorati, the largest blog search engine in the world. He is now founder and CEO of Offbeat Guides, a personalized travel guide website (Dave is a recognized expert on leadership development, blogs and the massive changes in the digital media environment, Open Source development, and the Linux operating system.) He exclusively talks to DubaiBeat.com on the sidelines the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda here in Dubai.

Listen to the interview here (~5 min):


Dave2.jpg


Related:
Interview with Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Product Management



Filed under interviews

 Interview with Director of ITS, Dr. Daniel Sperling

Dr. Daniel Sperling is recognized as a leading international expert on transportation technology assessment, and energy and environmental aspects of transportation. He is the Director of Institute of Transportation Studies and Acting Director of Energy Efficiency Center. (He is a Professor of Transportation Engineering and Environmental Policy at University of California, Davis). He exclusively talks to DubaiBeat.com before attending the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda here in Dubai.


Would you please tell us a bit about the background of your relationship with the World Economic Forum and your participation in the upcoming Summit on the Global Agenda?

I was honored to be chosen by the WEF to chair the “Future of Mobility” Council. Some key issues my Council will address include:

· Rapid motorization and its impact on cities:
· Oil dependency
· Impact of mobility on global climate change:
· Role of innovation and emerging technologies, especially the use of “intelligent transportation systems”
· Safety, security and equity.
· Restructuring the mobility industries (responding to financial duress in the automotive and airline industries)
· Innovative and effective policies to improve mobility while protecting the environment
· Transport infrastructure challenges (including under-investment in transport infrastructure)
· Freight transport issues within cities and between cities and countries

What specific area is your focus and how do you say it can help improve state of the world?

I am a professor of transportation engineering and environmental policy at University of California, Davis and a board member of the California Air Resources Board. My research and policy responsibilities are devoted to improving environmental quality while also improving mobility. My new book, Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability (Oxford University Press) addresses these issues.

What do you think about the city of Dubai, the host for this summit?

I’ve never been there, but have heard many amazing things about the city, and thus look forward to the adventure with great enthusiasm.


Related:
- Interview with Journalism Professor and Blogger, Jeff Jarvis
- Interview with Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, Jim Fruchterman
- Davos in Dubai – this weekend



Filed under davosdubai08, interviews

 Interview with Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, Jim Fruchterman

Jim Fruchterman is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. An engineer turned social entrepreneur, he is a former rocket scientist, founded two of the foremost optical character recognition companies, and developed a successful line of reading machines for the blind. He now runs his own nonprofit technology company, Benetech. (He also won the 2006 MacArthur Fellowship, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2004 and 2006.) He exclusively talks to DubaiBeat.com before attending the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda here in Dubai.


Would you please tell us a bit about the background of your relationship with the World Economic Forum and your participation in the upcoming Summit on the Global Agenda?

I was award the Schwab Award for Social Entrepreneurship (Prof. Klaus Schwab is the founder of the WEF) in 2003. I have had the honor of attending the Annual Meeting in Davos five times, as well as regional summits in Africa and India. My organization, Benetech, is one of Silicon Valley’s leading nonprofit organizations, with a mission of bringing technology to all of humanity. I am part of the Global Agenda council on philanthropy.

What specific area is your focus and how do you say it can help improve state of the world?

We serve people with disabilities, as well as human rights and environmental groups. We believe that technology helps disadvantaged communities just as it helps those with great advantages.

What do you think about the city of Dubai, the host for this summit?

I’m quite looking forward to my first visit to Dubai!


Related:
- Interview with Journalism Professor and Blogger, Jeff Jarvis
- Davos in Dubai – this weekend



Filed under davosdubai08, interviews

More from interviews ...


  Interview with Journalism Professor and Blogger, Jeff Jarvis (November 2008)

  Five Questions with Financial Times Chief Columnist, John Gapper (January 2008)

  Five Questions with Booking.com Manager, Sabrina Costermans (July 2007)

  Five Questions with PR Newswire EMEA CEO, Lisa Ashworth (June 2007)

  Five Questions with Jaxtr Co-Founder Touraj Parang (April 2007)





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