Business Columns & Blogs

We can get better as we get bigger, Boise, by supporting new generation of business and talent

Alison Johnson
Alison Johnson

Whether you count yourself among those welcoming the opportunities that growth brings, or wary of what it all could mean, we likely all agree on the one thing accompanying Idaho’s endless list of national recognitions in the past year: The pace of change is rapid. In less than a decade, Idaho has moved from a flyover state to a destination of choice – for families, businesses, entrepreneurs and investors.

Beyond being an in-demand place to live, we’re continuing to see interest from all sectors and geographies about our credibility as a place to start a business or fuel an existing company’s growth. Themes that emerged from Idaho Technology Council’s fourth annual Capital Connect Conference and Deal Flow Report give us a glimpse of how our community is supporting this next generation of businesses, talent and leadership.

The Idaho Deal Flow Report highlights private placement investments, merger and acquisition activity, and public transactions for Idaho companies. In 2017, we saw 147 reported transactions that accounted for nearly $2.4 billion of deal volume. This included 71 mergers and acquisitions, 73 private placements and three public offerings. Idaho’s ranks of publicly traded companies grew with Eagle’s PetIQ raising more than $100 million in its IPO; fellow Eagle company TSheets acquisition by Intuit for $340 million; and Boise company Cradlepoint’s closing of $89 million in Series C funding led by TCV, a leading provider of capital- to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry.

Between the charts and financial reports were insights that went beyond dollars and deals. They showed that recent funding, growth and acquisitions are crucial seeds for reinvestment and reinvention. Anecdotally, we’ve heard how the draw of this place keeps talent here and fuels serial entrepreneurship as well as mentors who continue to pay it forward.

More than 40 percent of the deals reported were from companies that started after 2010 – highlighting the dynamic nature of our economy and how companies younger in their life cycle are able to raise capital and fuel this growth.

While one might assume outside acquisitions lead to a loss of talent at the companies being acquired, we’re seeing that talent stays in our market. They’re choosing to remain here and either deploy their skills at other growing companies, start something of their own, and/or mentor those on a similar growth trajectory. A survey showed that more than a decade after Microsoft purchased Proclarity, 80 percent of those employees remain here.

Mentoring is seen from retired corporate executives spending their time paying forward their knowledge with early-stage startups, to large corporate citizens such as Chobani putting their skin in the game to support innovation in their industry through their Chobani Incubator program for food and beverage startups.

Following our moniker of the City of Trees, individuals and businesses are both putting down roots and branching out. It’s this reinvestment and rejuvenation that will be crucial to not only our growth, but ensuring that when the baton is passed to the next generation of leaders and business, that rapid growth doesn’t mean losing our identity but simply building on the reasons people move and stay here.

Alison Johnson, a partner at Holland & Hart, is an adviser for companies, entrepreneurs and investors through all stages of their growth cycle.