On the Same Page

Startup Tech Firm Mozy Preserves its Culture after Being Acquired

By Rachel Madison

March 12, 2014

When Pleasant Grove-based Mozy was acquired by Boston, Mass.-based EMC in 2007, many employees wondered if the culture at Mozy, a cloud backup service company, would stay the same. Fast forward to seven years later, and it’s easy to see Mozy’s culture is stronger than ever.

This doesn’t mean the acquisition by EMC, a company that provides IT storage hardware solutions to promote data backup and recovery in the cloud, didn’t come with its fair share of challenges, but leaders at both EMC and Mozy quickly realized that in order to have a successful acquisition, a little give and take was needed from each company.

Mozy was founded in 2005 and was met with immediate growth and success. It quickly garnered a lot of interest from various companies looking to acquire it, says Dave Robinson, vice president of marketing. A few different offers came in, but Mozy didn’t budge until EMC came along. “It came down to the fit,” Robinson says. “EMC was a big data storage company and it had interest in the cloud. Based on that and several other factors, it seemed like the best fit.”

Although being acquired came with a risk, Robinson says Mozy continues to prosper, thanks to EMC’s support and worldwide reach.

“It was a great move,” he says. “We’re growing and expanding our presence. EMC is a multinational company, so they’re trying to acquire the best and brightest talent. Plus, they pay great wages, provide quarterly bonuses, and have good health insurance and stock grants. Roughly 200 people work for Mozy in Utah, but they get to work for a global leader in their own space.”

Some things must go. When Mozy was acquired, major processes had to be changed in order to line up with EMC. This included adopting EMC’s HR systems, payment processors and security procedures, while also integrating more in areas such as public relations and product development. “There are some things that change that come with being part of a big company,” Robinson says. “Some people didn’t like that and left, but that was the minority.”

The company also had to change some of the ways it rewarded employees. “Prior to EMC we had some big holiday parties, but now that we’re part of a big company, we can’t have big parties like we used to,” Robinson says. “That is a bummer for some people, but with a global business of around 60,000 people, it would be hard to throw a party for that many people.”

Some things will stay. Robinson says while some changes were inevitable, Mozy leaders realized that everything couldn’t—and shouldn’t—change after the acquisition. “We talked to the employees about the things that make Mozy a great place to work,” he says. “We talked about the fact that we wanted to maintain our unique culture.”

The company still hosts a lot of events that promote company culture, such as family picnics, early screenings of movies and bowling. “We still do fair amounts of activities locally as a team, but they do the same things in other geographies as well,” Robinson says. “We have to do things [a little more affordably], but we still get employees out of the office and together and maintain the Mozy culture.”

Vance Checketts, vice president and general manager for EMC in Utah, says it’s hard to fully understand the culture of another company until you get inside of it. “EMC didn’t fully understand [Mozy’s culture] and yet I think they realized pretty quickly what it was and that it was valuable.”

Understand the acquiring company. Robinson says it’s important to ask a lot of questions to understand the acquiring company, such as, “Are they truly interested in the business or are they just acquiring people? What is your fit with the portfolio of their products? Does your product fit well? Will you gain leverage and go out and grow your business? Or is it a square peg and round hole situation? Don’t just jump into [an acquisition] because someone is waving money at you.”

Choose your battles. Checketts says knowing what battles to pick and choose is really important. “You almost don’t know until you get inside the company how things will be, but if both companies know there will be give-and-take, the acquisition can be successful. We chose several different battles and gave a little here and took a little there, which helped us to be successful.”

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