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M&A Strategies and Team Development with Yannis Dosios

By Endeavor Greece Feb 9, 2022

Endeavor Greece hosted an AMA session featuring Yannis Dosios Vice President, Emerging Business at Twitter. He is currently responsible for revenue generation and setting the commercial vision, direction, and goals for Twitter’s emerging businesses, including Mopub and the Data Enterprise Solutions business. He joined Twitter in 2017 from Yahoo!, where he had been the VP, Platform & Exchange Sales and Operations. Before this, he claims he caught the “entrepreneurial bug” and worked at two startups building their operations teams and growing the company from the ground up. Yannis was the VP, Business Operations & Sales Planning at Flurry, Inc, and prior to this, he served as VP, Europe at Smilebox. He holds a BA, in Mathematics from Harvard University, and an MBA from Stanford University.

Potential Acquisitions 

“Partnership is definitely something we explore before considering acquiring.”

The characteristics a company looks at in potential acquirers vary greatly. Speaking from experience at Twitter, Yanni says that one way they assess this is through a clear strategy on how they plan on growing their business using specific numbers and goals to reach their three-year plan. Twitter for example will have a few objectives such as increasing participation & growing usage and driving conversation. Within these objectives are more specific tasks and programs that need to be built and done in order to fulfill the main goal and strategy the company has set out. The M&A’s team’s job is to look at which startups have a unique enough technology that will be able to accelerate their progress in directions that they would not be able to do themselves. The goal is for the startup to help them get there in a better fashion. He claims that there needs to be a

“Credibly strong case that the acquisition of this company is going to accelerate our progress towards any of those directions.”

Another thing they look at seriously is whether they should partner or acquire. Acquiring is a big decision that involves a lot of work before, during, and after the decision. He believes that it’s important to assess how much we can achieve through a partnership in order to grow together, get to know each other and make sure there’s enough value for both sides before we make an acquisition. They also look at the talent of the team, (especially on the technical side) as it’s important to align the expertise brought in with what Twitter is looking for. 

Partner vs Acquire

“Partnership is a great way to start, as it’s an incredible way to test the waters“

When asked if there is a tipping point from when a company decides to acquire rather than partner, Yannis says it comes down to the ability to meaningfully, with the right speed and focus, do the right testing in the “build – measure – learn” loop. The goal is to build an offering that we can test as a hypothesis, rapidly measure, learn and iterate. If we can do all that from a partnership and the startup is willing to do this with us, that would largely suit our needs and it would be much less complex for both companies. If that is not possible, because the startup has its own priorities in other areas, and we need to move quickly in terms of what we want, then that could potentially pull you in the direction of owning the company. Very often it comes down to control, speed of execution, and speed of moving in the direction that’s needed.

The Future of Information Processing

He has seen so much change in the last 5-10 years, with a shift towards transparency for the customer in terms of what information is getting collected. It will be increasingly important to provide a clear definition of value exchange between the end-user and the company, giving the user intel on why they are offering you this information, how it is being used, and more importantly, how it benefits the user.

“Incorporate transparent and genuine value exchange for the end-user, featuring safeguards”

The idea behind this space is to create a tailored experience, making it quicker and more efficient for the user and their consumption of your product or service. Similarly, in the IoT space, we could learn from this, and start from a cleaner space offering transparency from the beginning. 

Successfully Managing Employees

It’s very challenging to manage big teams. What works a lot for him is clarity, giving a super clear direction to the team as to what the three most important things we’re going to be working on and what we’re not going to be working on. In the absence of not acknowledging, what you should not focus on, people take on a lot of things that don’t have maximum impact on the company. It’s important to take the time to think about the overall strategy and what are the two or three levers that make an impact on the strategy and what is the team uniquely positioned to lever against those levers. Being a good leader has changed a lot since working from home. Having a lot of empathy and being a human leader in these times is extremely important. He expresses that vulnerability is key and admitting to the team that you don’t have all the answers is a good way of showing your emotional side.

“Balancing the human aspect, while also keeping people accountable, is a balancing act you have to master”

Full Transparency Method

When asked about his opinion on having everything that everyone is doing, accessible to everyone in the company, Yanni expresses that transparency is wonderful and he’s a big fan, but he’s a bit skeptical about this method. His first question is why? Why does everyone need to know everything that has happened in the company? If having this information is absolutely critical to their jobs, that’s beyond ok, but he struggles to imagine that that’s absolutely necessary. He claims that there are some circumstances that if given too much information about the pros and cons of every decision, you could struggle more, by being caught up in the details. The job of a manager is to simplify the details and decide on a direction that the company needs to go in. Your job is to do all the work for them and then present them with the direction that they should go into – and he worries that with a full transparent overload, the team could lose focus.

Team Leads vs Hierarchy Leads

He believes that the organizational structure in the early stages needs to be as “flat” as possible. This is important because you need to make the best utilization of every resource you have. He also believes that you’d want to have as much access to the learning position loop that’s happening in the early stages of a company because you’re still trying to establish a product-market fit. Once you’ve established a product-market fit, and you get scalable sales you then need someone to set goals, someone accountable and someone to bring the expertise of “selling” to a team. Another tip he has is to always keep the manager in the game, with respect to the project so they don’t always feel as though they’re in a managerial position and keep them hungry.

Technology Development in Greece

Yannis believes that in the last couple of years there’s been a lot of momentum moving in a good direction in Greece when it comes to entrepreneurship. He sees that there are good startups with good technical abilities and strong engineering capabilities. The current political environment in Greece is more favourable for startups than entrepreneurship, one he hasn’t seen in a long time. The work from home movement works in Greece’s favour, as people see the benefits in quality of life, diversity, and culture. People are opening their eyes to working remotely and see the benefit of coming to Greece. Last but not least, people are gradually starting to want to give back to their country again. He sees a wave of entrepreneurs maturing into that space acting as mentors. He claims the process is not perfect yet as there is a lot of red tape.

“Sees the beginnings of an ecosystem that is starting to form, and in the next 5 years, things will accelerate a lot more”

The Challenge of Getting Talent

It’s a competitive market filled with many interesting companies, with competitive salaries looking to pitch to engineers. You need to be able to show and prove that it’s ok and worth it, for them to leave something safe and go to something more challenging like a startup. Remote work almost makes it harder as they see people working for US or UK companies, but living in Greece.