Caleb Edmundson, editor-in-chief of ExitUp – the investment blog published by Hunt Scanlon Ventures – looks back at a whirlwind year across the M&A space with the help of experts from McKinsey & Company, Pitchbook, Heidrick & Struggles, The Tolan Group, Bain & Company, Korn Ferry Consulting, ZRG, The Christopher Group, Bespoke Partners, and Roble Ventures. Let’s take a look back!
In the dynamic world of human capital, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success. During this past year, we had the opportunity to sit down with many high-level experts across the sector. In one-on-one conversations, we explored the latest trends, the best strategies, and along the way we received the deepest insights from the best thinkers in the field.
One crucial and consistent message throughout 2023 is that having the right human capital in place is of increasing importance and the demand for experienced high-level talent is higher than ever, even in times – some may say especially in times – of a macroeconomic slump.
Throughout our discussions with CEOs, private equity talent leaders, executive recruiters, and management consultants, it became clear that staying ahead of the curve means utilizing strategic M&A to unlock value. In today’s competitive landscape, the alignment of skilled leaders and robust talent acquisition practices becomes not just advantageous, but imperative for sustained excellence and resilience against market fluctuations.
As the real value of human capital as the primary competitive advantage lever becomes increasingly clear, we believe talent will underpin every successful M&A transaction. Nothing supports growth and expansion – and a truly great deal – more than the people who come along with it.
Our team chose 13 articles from our Inside Track archives to highlight many of the trends we profiled in 2013. If you missed reading them, take a moment to catch up!
Few understand the war for tech talent better than those on the ground in Silicon Valley. As a recruiting partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ San Francisco office, Brad Warga knows this battle well. By focusing on the tech sector, he has developed a keen understanding of this slice of the talent market. Caleb Edmundson, editor-in-chief of ExitUp, sat down with this tech recruiting leader to discuss unlocking value through talent through the eyes of chief people officers.
Larry Hartmann is a seasoned veteran of the people business. As the chief executive of ZRG, he leads one of the fastest growing, global talent management hubs in the human capital sector. In this ExitUp exclusive, editor-in-chief Caleb Edmundson joins Mr. Hartmann in a one-on-one discussion about his blockbuster acquisition of The Registry, a leading interim solutions provider and ZRG’s largest purchase to date. They reflect on how the deal came together, the challenges of aligning around the unique needs of founders, the importance of setting realistic expectations around M&A, the critical role of integration, why empathy matters in M&A, and the role perseverance and patience played in bringing the deal to a successful conclusion.
Earlier this year, a McKinsey & Company survey revealed the remarkable adoption of generative AI tools across various industries. Over one-third of respondents reported that their organizations were already leveraging artificial intelligence in at least one business function. According to Hunt Scanlon Media, the human capital sector will see the biggest transformation, as AI integration deepens across the people business. We take a look at how generative AI is on track to becoming the most pivotal advancement for human capital and talent-centric businesses in more than four decades – and how it will bring heightened M&A activity and investor interest to an already hot market.
In the fast-paced world of private equity, mergers among fund managers have long been a recurring phenomenon. But in the past two years the trend has picked up at a rapid pace, due in part to a tougher economic environment and a maturing industry. Experts in the industry anticipate an increase in their frequency, in part due to elevated interest rates and sluggish business for deals. We go inside some recent reporting from Pitchbook to unpack how consolidation in PE is accelerating alongside the possible impacts of this trend.
For PE firms and their portfolio companies, a performance-driven culture is essential for maximizing returns. Caleb Edmundson, editor-in-chief of ExitUp, examines the critical role that HR plays in aligning individual and team objectives to support an organization’s overall vision. Nat Schiffer, president of The Christopher Group, joins in to discuss this shift in focus and explores why HR will remain indispensable in driving growth, innovation, and profitability for years to come.
The decline in M&A deals this year has prompted organizations to explore alternative growth strategies. Among them: incorporating AI throughout their operations. The shift towards AI may require reallocating capital that was previously earmarked for M&A, according to Mark Arian, CEO of Korn Ferry Consulting. At a time when M&A has slowed, he says, investment in AI tools may be the perfect redirection of funds that have already been earmarked to pursue growth. We take a closer look.
Bain & Company surveyed managers involved in 40 M&A deals earlier this year. In 15 that Bain classified as “successful,” almost 90% of the acquirers reported identifying essential talent for retention during due diligence, typically before the deal had closed. In the remaining unsuccessful deals, acquirers did not identify essential talent. Getting human due diligence right is surfacing more than ever as a critical component of every M&A process. We sat down with Richard Stein to gain a deeper understanding of how ‘talent intelligence’ brings rigor to the human due diligence process required of every deal.
Calls for interim leaders are gaining wider traction as demographics shift and talent needs change. The most sought after ‘on-demand’ roles are increasingly found across the C-suite – from CEOs and CHROs to CFOs, controllers, and chief transformation officers. The next war for talent may very well be found here. We checked in with search firm founder Tim Tolan, founder and CEO of The Tolan Group, who just launched a new interim platform to angle in on the action. He sees unlimited possibilities ahead along with big investment potential.
According to Tobey Sommer, a managing director at Truist Securities who is focused on the human capital sector, M&A deal expectations are adjusting to a significant shift in the market. “When markets shift it can take a while for expectations to readjust and get back to a place where deals can be consummated more easily,” he said in this recent Q&A with ExitUp. “I think that’s where we are heading.” ExitUp editor-in-chief Caleb Edmundson takes a closer look.
Capturing the value-driving potential of top talent is increasingly vital in private equity. This reflects the ever-accelerating competition for the best leaders, while recognizing the untapped merit and practicality found in the perfect placement of portfolio company CEOs. As a result, private equity sponsors are racing to capture value from human capital. When they’re successful, the result is outperformance and outsize returns. ExitUp editor-in-chief Caleb Edmundson digs into new research with McKinsey & Company partner Marla Capozzi and senior partner / chairman for North America Gary Pinkus to uncover a new approach to PE value creation.
Despite a drop-off in deal-flow last year, all signs indicate that the tight market for seasoned talent in the private equity sector will continue for the foreseeable future. And with that, experienced leaders will continue to command premium compensation packages. All good news, right? In its PE Talent Benchmark Report series, Bespoke Partners examines why capital-efficient growth is at the core of wide-ranging leadership hiring decisions today – particularly in private equity – where every talent decision can result in more value, higher growth, better results, and superior returns. Caleb Edmundson, editor-in-chief of ExitUp, takes a deep dive with the search firm’s CEO, Eric Walczykowski.
Generative AI is on track to becoming the most pivotal advancement for business in more than four decades. The vertical is deeply complex, with trailblazers in the space racing to produce foundation models, tooling, and applications that will disrupt and revolutionize by bringing efficiency and scale to the companies they serve. AiFlow has created a powerful new solution to automate competitor analysis and market research for private equity firms. We took a deep dive with founders Nick Manske and Josh Gardner earlier this year.
Sergio Monsalve spearheads investment strategy for Roble Ventures, a firm he founded with the express purpose of helping entrepreneurs increase equity via human enablement technology. It is all part of a new ecosystem which is quickly gaining traction in the world of human capital investment. Roble Ventures has a proven playbook that has helped entrepreneurs generate $8B in market value, including 3 unicorns. We go inside the latest thinking with the founder.
Caleb A. Edmundson is Editor-in-Chief of ExitUp, the investment blog from Hunt Scanlon Ventures designed for professionals across the human capital M&A sector. Caleb serves as an Associate for Hunt Scanlon Ventures, providing robust industry research to support the firm’s investment group. Connect with Caleb.