Strategic Acquisitions

Strategy: The Critical First Step

Many companies today embark on an acquisition strategy for the wrong reasons:

  • They encounter an appealing target
  • They are focused on meeting short-term revenue growth goals
  • They want to enter a “sexier” sector by way of an acquisition

Our focus at US Dynamics is always on long-term strategic acquisitions. No acquisition is to be taken on lightly, and every firm pursuing acquisitions needs to carefully consider:

  • Their strategy for growth of the core business
  • How adjacent opportunities can complement their core business
  • How the combination benefits customers and grows market presence

US Dynamics works with firms to evaluate potential acquisitions with our unique perspective on how a company’s overall strategy can disrupt markets through acquisition.

Discipline: Critical for Successful Execution

Too often, we see companies jump too quickly into acquisitions, or move too slowly and miss opportunities. They key is to strike the right balance between strategy and opportunism.

As part of our work with companies in evaluating acquisitions, we recommend a highly rigorous process:

  • A full market survey, including firms larger and smaller than targeted
  • Price testing the market for acquisitions by engaging multiple parties
  • Developing a full understanding of the motivations of individual sellers

Every acquisition represents a tremendous investment – far beyond simply the cash investment. In fact, failed acquisitions require enormous internal efforts to handle – including containing damage with internal team members and external shareholders – and can set back firms years in their growth trajectories.

So in addition to traditional financial diligence, we conduct rigorous strategic diligence on targets:

  • Is the target’s market position and messaging resonating with the intended audience?
  • Do opportunities for cross-sales between brands stand up in discussions with key accounts of each brand?
  • What are the underlying technology and growth trends of related and adjacent markets?

With these data in hand, we work with companies to down-select from a large pool of potential targets to a narrow filtered list of key opportunities.

Integration: The Ultimate Challenge

More often than not, acquisitions fail during integration.

Factors at play:

  • Departure of key employees
  • Loss of company culture or spirit
  • Failure to realize expected growth and financial performance

There are multiple strategies for mitigating these risks, but the foremost priority has to be to legitimately embrace giving the acquired firm’s team a real voice in the integrated company.

Key strategies we employ with integration efforts:

  • Aligning incentives and being prepared to revisit as needed
  • Actively setting goals for cross-training of employees
  • Constantly and proactively communicating company-wide

Making Acquisitions Successful

A Case Study in Acquisitions: SharpSpring

These techniques enabled the acquisition of SharpSpring by SMTP. Jonathan Strimling led the strategic planning, target selection, deal negotiation, and full integration process, which included signing two acquisition deals within 48 hours of each other and integrating three businesses concurrently. The results included nearly tripling revenues and roughly quintupling the rate of revenue addition within a year of closing the acquisitions.

Key Metrics:

  • SharpSpring was acquired with less than $250,000 in cumulative revenues.
  • SharpSpring was acquired for $5M up front and $10M via an earn-out.
  • Today SharpSpring is valued at over $100,000,000.


We developed a  clear, written articulation of goals and the criteria for identifying targets, including:
  •  Targeted market adjacencies
  • Ranges of size and financial performance
  • Types of product, channel and strategic synergies we sought

We needed to acquire new technology, growth and broader global reach. But we couldn’t afford a firm that brought us everything, so we decided on making multiple carefully-selected smaller acquisitions.


In identifying appropriate targets, we employed the following process:

  • A full market survey of over 180 firms in the market (even those not qualified)
  • Narrowing of the list in an iterative process to 20, 10, and then 6-8 prime candidates
  • Deep interactions with each of these firms around potential synergies and deal terms
  • Iterating on deal structures to arrive at win-win configurations with the right incentives
  • Financial, operational, and strategic diligence


We concurrently integrated two acquisitions in a fully seamless process:

  • Nearly zero attrition in the year following integration
  • Executives from the target firms were giving meaningful roles in the combined company
  • Effective integration of operations in six physical locations and spanning support of 13 languages