The Molzi Story, signing on the dotted (virtual) line
Signing week had finally arrived, and this was the first time during the process that I felt truly confident that it was all going to happen. Although there still seemed like a huge amount to get done before signing on the dotted line, it was the first time that all parties were talking about when it happens rather than if. Photos had been taken, press releases signed off and plans made for starting to integrate the businesses post-signing. The actual completion was planned for Friday 17th September, 2021. As I mentioned in my last blog, I had a short holiday in Kefalonia booked with my wife, that was originally planned to celebrate the signing but would now become the location for it. It meant that we would complete the acquisition on the Friday, but not announce it to the team and World until the following Wednesday when I was back from holiday.
On the Wednesday night before we travelled to Greece we had a celebratory takeaway with the family at our house. As it arrived, I was pulled onto a call with the lawyers and bankers for an hour and a half to review all 152 pages of the SPA. It was clear the relaxation was going to wait until the bitter end to arrive. To be honest though, although I was involved in a lot of discussions and decisions at this stage, I was so confident in the deal team we had that I was just really a token guest, taking the advice given to me as much as I could.
As we arrived at the airport on the Thursday, me and my wife had plans to sail through security (no kids to hold us up!) and have breakfast at that smoked salmon and caviar place you see in all airports. You know the one that looks like it’s exclusively for billionaires and politicians. It was to be our first taste of our new life, before we resorted back to Deliveroo and Greggs.
While we checked in our bags we offered up our COVID passes on our phones and both of our hearts stopped as they asked for the international pass, not the domestic one. We weren’t really sure what they were talking about, but we knew it didn’t sound good. They helped us apply for it on our phones and told us it can take up to 24 hours but sometimes can be as quick as 1 hour. Slight killjoy moment, and clearly the salmon and caviar was at risk. But so might the whole trip.
We went to a coffee shop in Gatwick and basically refreshed our emails continuously for 45 minutes until the passes arrived. The travel gods were on our side we thought - we just about had time to check in the bags and have time for a coffee. As I stood up and grabbed my suitcase, the entire zip gave way at once. Basically, the side of a fully packed suitcase fell off. This was a low point.
Fortunately, airports know how to charge you extortionate amounts of money to solve any travel issue, so fast forward 10 minutes and I was the proud owner of the World’s ugliest £200 suitcase. Game on. Our vision of how the pre-flight experience would be was replaced with us sprinting to make the flight. We were very ready for the swimming pool when we arrived at the hotel, a bit of dinner and an early night ready for the big day.
We made it to Greece after a less than relaxing journey
I had a quick look back at how many emails I received on ‘signing day’ from the lawyers. It was 46. I was amazed that we were still discussing some pretty bit items so close to actually signing the contract, but the Greek weather was doing a great job of keeping me relaxed. I had a day on the sun lounger of constant email, Teams and WhatsApp messaging.
At 6pm local time, the email I had been waiting for finally arrived. A DocuSign notification saying a document is ready for signing. I ran up to the room and got my laptop and met my wife down in the hotel bar. The SPA is here, this is not a drill, I repeat it is not a drill!!!
I don't think I could have asked for a more picturesque signing spot!
I had spent the last 10 days or so reading this document and looking at the very slightest of tweaks and changes. If I’m honest, when it came to actually signing it, I put all faith into the lawyers and just skimmed through it again super quick. They had set-it up on DocuSign so that all of my 45 signatures were in the same position on each relevant page so I just had to click 45 times and the most important document in my life was signed. As I was doing this, my wife ordered a bottle of champagne (neither of us really like champagne but it just felt like the moment deserved it). As it arrived to the table, I realised that although my bit was done, I now had to get my wife to witness each of the 45 signatures. Her bit was not quite as easy as mine. She had to write out her full name, job title and address each time. And because of the way it was set-up on DocuSign, she couldn’t copy/paste. Quite the buzz kill. The champagne went back into the fridge and I just sat watching as she spent half an hour typing the same basic information over and over again!
My wife had a lot more signing to do than I did!
Finally, it was done, and we could celebrate. She asked me how I felt, and the only feeling I could recognise was relief. I think relief that the process was over. I was expecting some kind of feeling of euphoria that we were now financially free, and our life had changed forever. But that feeling was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps we’ll get that feeling when we see the money in the bank I suggested. Due to the timing of the signature this wouldn’t be until Monday.
So we drank the champagne, and ordered a taxi for a celebratory dinner. As we waited for the taxi I got a call from our lawyer asking if I was happy for him to complete the transaction now. Oh god, it’s not actually done yet I asked. A few cocktails in and a bottle of champagne, I was hoping my part was done at least. An hour or so later, as we were eating dinner, my phone lit up with WhatsApp’s of congratulations from the various teams working on the deal. It was done!
The next couple of days in Greece were quite odd. After 10 weeks of constant communication aiming towards this one event, suddenly my emails and messages had stopped. We hadn’t announced the acquisition yet, and I had been so far out of the normal business for so long that there was just silence. Weirdly I felt slightly sad that it was over. You know that feeling after a wedding where you think that exact group of people may never get together again. I slightly missed the stress and craziness. But I was looking forward to Monday, the money arriving in the bank and to finally get this mysterious ‘feeling’ that I was searching for.
When the money did arrive in the bank, me and my wife stared at it for a minute. And then just closed the laptop. We didn’t really speak. It looked good, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t as exciting as I expected. Just a number, much bigger than it had been the day before. But still just a number. And because I had been imagining the number for so long, it was kind of just as expected rather than anything special. A bit odd.
Safe to say I slept well that night!
18 months on I’ve still not tracked down the specific feeling that I was hoping for. I think maybe it doesn’t exist, or maybe I’ll feel it when I complete the earn out and have true freedom to start new projects. Life did suddenly feel a lot easier though.
We got back to the UK and life quickly went back to normal. Same house, same car, kids birthday parties. The only time I noticed any difference was when I went into Barclays to move some money around and the lady behind the counter had to whisk me off to a little room to ask me if I knew this money was in there and did I realise it wasn’t secure if Barclays were to go bankrupt. Sounded crazy at the time, but maybe not so now!
Since signing the contract, we have moved into our dream house, and travelled to some amazing places with the kids. But the impact of having more money in the bank hasn’t been that life changing, certainly compared to the impact it’s had on my working life. The team at Brainlabs are amazing, but there is a big difference between running a company and being an employee again. Before selling Molzi I didn’t know if I would have the appetite to ‘go again’ but now I have no doubt. The thrill of building something from scratch and seeing it create value for clients, employees and investors can’t be matched in my view. I’ll certainly be back one day!
I’ll cover off the earn out years once the earn out is finished. So for now, the Molzi journey is over. And I can start drilling into more detail about the high’s and low’s along the way.
Really appreciate you reading it so far!