Jo Walker and Steve Bowe spent 11 years building Practique from scratch, eventually becoming the European market leader for enterprise incentive compensation management (ICM) software. Their product automates the increasingly complex job of calculating commission and bonus packages for organisations with large, performance driven sales teams. It’s blue-chip client base included major banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland and telecoms operators such as Orange.
In taking the company forward, Jo and Steve felt they were approaching the edge of their comfort zone. Far from wanting to take the money and run, they were ideally looking for a “friendly” strategic acquirer that would help take the company’s product global, whilst also taking on some of the increasing pressure of managing a fast-expanding business.
After several months of contact with prospective targets and advanced discussions with interested parties, ICON entered into negotiations with Merced Systems to agree terms. Merced Systems is a Silicon Valley based sales performance software business that has established itself as a leader in the US market, they had also recently recruited a small UK team to identify new sales prospects and so saw the acquisition of Practique as an opportunity on three counts:
- to accelerate Merced’s expansion into Europe through the acquisition of a strong established team;
- to gain a highly complementary product offering to sell into its existing customer base; and
- the chance to fast track its own SPM suite to Practique’s client base.