Parting Thoughts on Aberdeen: A Pyrrhic Sale?

Even though I personally have issues with the way Aberdeen ostracized so many employees in the past 24 months, I also give credit to the firm for accomplishing what no other traditional analyst shop has been able to do in recent years: successfully turning a business model on its head. You can criticize how the firm looked upon the value of its employees all you want -- and this criticism is absolutely warranted -- but the fact that Aberdeen was able to ramp revenues by redefining its value proposition to vendors so quickly says a lot. Harte-Hank bought Aberdeen because they saw value and cash flow. Period. They also saw the growth potential of an entirely new business model that Aberdeen had proven out in the market.

But I wonder what would have been possible if Aberdeen had maintained the wonderful talent pool they had assembled in various bits and pieces over the years (some times for what was measured in days and weeks rather than months and years). Might the firm have gone for more? Might the ill-will because of the scorched earth policy the firm leadership followed with its analysts and employees never have existed? I don't know. But besides believing in the virtue of cash -- as Lord Byron so eloquently described -- I also believe in karma. As such, on one level, this is a solid "exit". But on another, there were so many burned bridges along the way that one wonders that at what cost the sale was made.

That's it from me on this subject. I won't devote any more space on Spend Matters to it. It's over. I will, however, continue to encourage Aberdeen to continue its strong coverage of the Spend Management market. In helping build this sector, they have done excellent work over the years, and I expect nothing less in the future.

Jason Busch

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