Three is the Magic Number: Global Recognition for Intralinks' Virtual Dataroom

More than anything, we were focused on changing an industry and being passionate about advancing an antiquated business process around due diligence in the M&A world.

20 December 2010

While I never put much stock into awards in the past, I now realize recognition is vital if for no other reason than it leads you to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and provides some useful perspective.

It all started about a month ago when Intralinks began a sweep at the M&A Atlas Award ceremonies — winning awards in Asia, the Americas and Europe focused on recognizing leadership in M&A technology, specifically Virtual Data Rooms (VDRs). The three victories are meaningful because they come from the community of dealmakers who rely on VDRs everyday to do their jobs.

Throughout our history, it really hasn’t been about “us”. We didn’t judge our performance by how many trophies we had in our cabinet. Instead, as a trusted ally to our clients, we took pride in being in the background as they accepted accolades, awards, and received media recognition. We just kept our heads down, moved onto the next deal, smiling confidently, knowing we helped our clients get there.

More than anything, we were focused on changing an industry and being passionate about advancing an antiquated business process around due diligence in the M&A world. And I’m glad to say at this point, the process has evolved and by staying focused on the task at hand of making the deal process better, deals are executed significantly better than when I sat in my last physical data room as a banker back in 2001. Thanks to Intralinks, there is now an entire generation of analysts and associates that may never know the pain of packing up the physical documents into banker boxes — thank goodness!

During my seven years with Intralinks, I have been more than happy to build a stellar reputation and have our references, success stories and clients speak on our behalf about our success and dominance. Our reward was the growth of our M&A segment and outpacing our competition on every front as we assumed and maintained a leadership position in the industry.

Then, we won these awards across the globe, which got me thinking more and more. How does the market really perceive us? As a service and technology often lost in the pantheon of M&A, what does the Intralinks persona and brand stand for? I have heard companies describe themselves as “fighter jet test pilots” and the like and while this seems silly, I do think there is a corporate or product identity that is forged over time. But what is ours?

I then remembered something a client told me years ago. “We couldn’t have done it without you. Obviously the technology worked perfectly but it was more your guidance on how best to use it that really helped us to succeed”. At the time it reminded me of an article I had read on about golf’s top caddies. The story stated that while “a major win doesn't get caddies the claret jug at the British Open or a green jacket at the Masters", they are now highly valued, considered a “serious profession”, well respected and more recognized in the golf world. I think this is the perfect analogy for Intralinks’ role in the M&A world.

While deal teams know we create value, the concept of elevating the importance of a technology partner and process facilitator for the M&A community rings true. It was a sentiment that I echoed in my recent acceptance speech at the M&A Atlas Awards in New York as I spoke to the roomful of investment bankers, lawyers, private equity pundits and corporate deal mavens. I told them that “this award is important because although we helped facilitate half the deals nominated here tonight, unlike many of you in the room, Intralinks doesn’t get its name in the Wall Street Journal, and there’s no league table for what we do. We are the man behind the man.”

So, like the multi-million dollar caddies linked to today’s premier golfers, while our client (advisor or corporate) is the one on ESPN’s SportsCenter swinging the club (or doing the deal), we’re that trusted caddy, putting the best piece of equipment for the job in their hands and coaching them the best we can. I’m happy to call these awards ours now but, more importantly, we look forward to many more years of being the most trusted ally available to dealmakers.