It is with real joy and anticipation that I welcome my longtime colleague, Louis Cicio back under the Van Winkle Associates wing. For the last 10 years, Louis has worked out of London on a media software project while also being my reliable sounding board on complex client issues. We have worked together in some capacity for 35 plus years and Louis continues to be my go-to colleague on financial, operational, capital raising, technology, M&A, contracts and negotiating issues as we see the world differently yet through the same financial prism. Common sense, a shrewd eye, impeccable integrity, a grand sense of humor and balance round out his broad business experience as outlined below. Apart from these hard skills, most clients after meeting with Louis and experiencing his authenticity and insights are drawn as much to his soft interpersonal skills and wisdom.
Over the years Louis has played critically within Van Winkle Associates to improve outcomes for clients’ businesses by executing a variety of business transitions involving operations, negotiations, acquisitions, and funding. Louis is a skilled and ambitious shoulder-to-shoulder player drawing on his trench work as an entrepreneur and business owner of multiple technology companies. Louis built the business operations of numerous companies; the first of his endeavors, a hardware storage company he co-founded while in college became a $75 million leader in the storage sector.
Over our long working relationship, Louis was invited into executive positions with three VWA clients. The most recent position followed a 4-year client engagement that evolved into an 8-year employment relationship with a London based software company established in 2009 to manage news media companies’ advertising revenue. Earlier, the CEO sought out VWA for advice on a Management Buyout that was ultimately successful and in December 2011, VWA assisted to secure £3M private equity funding. Today, the company is a profitable SaaS business with a strong Balance Sheet that propelled its enterprise value 10X for shareholders. VWA assisted in negotiating many of their customer contracts with dozens of global media brands such as Gannett, Hearst US, Hearst UK, McClatchy, The New York Times, News Corp Australia, News Corp UK, Time Inc., and Toronto Star.
VWA has aided companies for many years by supporting and hiring roles such as CFO, COO, Senior Project Managers, Director of Sales, Director of Operations, and other positions that corresponded to the demands of fast-growing companies. Louis directed the hiring of staff and executives worldwide. The prior companies of the executives Louis recruited illustrate the quality of the teams he assembled (e.g., Siemens $100B, Coke $35B, Virgin$16B, Associated Press $500M, Leapfrog $200M).
Together, I believe we have an aptitude for profitable enterprises from innovation phase to maturity with a focus on market agility, customer needs and ultimately creating transferable shareholder value. Louis’ leadership allowed fast-changing technology businesses to prevail at the leading edge by staying nimble and responsive to industry shifts and customers’ needs, all while growing business value. Drawing on both his financial and interpersonal skills, he understands well that inspired and dedicated employees contribute to any company’s overall success. Intuitively, he helps teams by urging employees to make business decisions not based on process alone, though based on a core set of values that are applicable across all industries: always do the right thing, always be honest so you sleep well and always develop long-term customer relationships.
Working globally, VWA has turned shortcomings into opportunities by boldly and transparently confronting problems that clients experience and by also collaborating with clients’ customers to find solutions. While still affiliated with VWA on the payroll of others, Louis travelled the world visiting clients’ customers to build and maintain relationships as well as to clients’ prospective customers to present business solutions. He moves fluidly and comfortably among executives, investors, technologists, and staff, always with the goal of improving capabilities for his clients and their customers.
We have over the years earned a reputation as a trustworthy and valued loyal business partner, due to transparency and integrity. Clients appreciate this exceptional value and Louis embodies fully this operating philosophy.