The Merger-Acquisition Victim Survival Kit

Riddle: How are people in the kids business like Pinocchio? (We mean in addition to the lies.)
Answer: There is a good chance most of us have been-or will be-swallowed by a whale. That is to say, our company will be...
April 1, 2001

Riddle: How are people in the kids business like Pinocchio? (We mean in addition to the lies.)

Answer: There is a good chance most of us have been-or will be-swallowed by a whale. That is to say, our company will be the target of a merger or acquisition.

Talk about playing Survivor…

Mergermania shows little sign of waning. In fact, the trend would appear to be going as strong as at any time during the past seven years. It’s as if orbiting masses of different kid-related media companies are being pulled together by gravity into one single super-dense mess…er, mass. (Of course, if one were to take this metaphor to its logical conclusion, eventually super-dense masses collapse into themselves creating black holes. But far be it from us to prognosticate.)

So given the vast number of KidScreen readers likely to be impacted by a merger, we surveyed merger survivors throughout the industry. Here are the top-10 tips and survival strategies gleaned from thousands of actual interviews.

1. First, breathe a deep sigh of relief when the new management announces that they don’t anticipate layoffs. (And if you believe that, we have some amazing diet pills that will help you lose weight while you sleep.)

2. Since you will now have new bosses in addition to your old ones, this would be a good time for that cosmetic surgery procedure you have long been contemplating: Liposuction. Not to be confused with the waistline reductive surgery, this form of liposuction is a special procedure in which you have your lips surgically widened so as to be able to suck up to more people at once. (This is a specific and useful form of multitasking known as multisucking.)

Oh, and a bonus use for your newly-widened lips: You can all the more thoroughly kiss your pet projects goodbye.

3. You will be expected to quickly absorb, adapt and integrate seamlessly into a new corporate culture. This can be traumatic or fun, depending on your attitude. Think of it as a wonderful, exciting trip to an exotic country where you get to experience new people, new things, new ideas and new environments. You know, like the movies Midnight Express, Papillon and The Killing Fields.

4. If you are a broadcaster acquiring a production company, don’t hesitate to avail yourself of your newfound power to not only program your content, but to produce it as well, all the while indulging only your own tastes. This way you can spare yourself from dangerous exposure to the fresh ideas and new programs of the unwashed masses (otherwise known as independent producers).

5. If you work for a major studio acquiring a broadcaster, see #4 above.

6. If you’re in senior management, don’t be surprised if all the vertical integration results in agoraphobia or vertigo as you look down from the lofty heights and realize you cannot even see what’s on the bottom of your own company. (And humiliate yourself by trying to acquire a company you already own.)

7. Carve out a niche for yourself. (Slitting your wrists doesn’t count.) Try to identify some unique area or activity that neither of the original companies is currently doing. Like, for example, telling the truth.

8. Beware of PMS (Post Merger Syndrome). Symptoms include sleeplessness, anxiety and loss of appetite. Should you experience these symptoms, rather than stress about it, look on the bright side of this wonderfully adaptive condition:

Sleeplessness: Take advantage of this by working all night to do both your job and that of your downsized assistants.

Anxiety: This helps you to bond with your peers and feel ‘at one’ with the other citizens of the corporate world.

Loss of appetite: Your reduced expenditures for food can compensate for your recent paycut.

9. Identify a peer at the new company whose position corresponds most closely to yours. Make this person your mentor/special friend with whom you can share the inside scoop, politics, stresses and burdens of your respective companies-and who can give you that special ‘heads up’ to save you from hidden pitfalls. This will be extremely valuable right up until the very moment this person takes your job.

10. Be sure to attend the expanded Christmas party. Not only might you actually meet someone with whom you don’t already spend 10 hours a day, but with the newly-merged company, you may well get some freebies good enough to give out as Christmas presents yourself-and save a few bucks.

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