Browse Tag

mergers & acquisitions

3 mins read

Meet The Black Woman CEO and Veteran Who Has Built a Multimillion Dollar Cybersecurity Company

Phyllis Newhouse is the first Black woman to lead a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). She is also a serial entrepreneur and investor, retired military senior officer, and mentor.

While serving in the United States Army on various assignments she specialized in National Security and established the Cyber Espionage Task Force. After a 22 year military career, she decided to shift her focus to entrepreneurship.

Black woman ceo
Phyllis Newhouse

In 2002 she founded Xtreme Solutions (XSI).  XSI provides state-of-the-art information technology and cybersecurity services and solutions and has employees in 42 states, with 40% of its workforce made up of veterans. XSI revenues are reported to exceed $8 million.

In 2019 she founded ShoulderUp alongside Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting and supporting women on their entrepreneurial journeys.

ShoulderUp Ventures is the first women-founded and led influencer fund providing impact and exclusive access to a diverse portfolio of media, technology companies, and sports entertainment. In 2019 alone its members and affiliates invested over $10 million in companies like Lime, Rent the Runway, and Airbnb.

In 2020, Phyllis co-founded Athena Technology Acquisition Corp., to carry out mergers, capital stock exchanges, asset acquisitions, stock purchases, and reorganizations with one or more businesses in the technology, DTC, and fintech industries.

black woman ceo
Phyllis Newhouse

While Athena is joining over 500 other active SPACs, only 17 of those have a woman as chair or CEO, according to SPAC Track.

In March 2021, Athena closed a $250 million IPO, making it the only SPAC listed on the NYSE with a Black woman CEO. In November 2021,

She told Forbes, “I think about the impact and responsibility that you have to be successful at this. You could be the first Black woman to lead a SPAC, and it could flop, and it would be a disaster, or you could be responsible and own this. “So in my mind, from day one, I had to own this, because I know with the ownership comes a deep responsibility. Others are watching.”

According to a press release, the company currently intends to focus its efforts on identifying businesses in the technology and cybersecurity industries.

Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

Why Should White Guys Have All The M&A Fun? Why More Black Businesses Should Consider Mergers & Acquisitions

Reginald F. Lewis was one of the richest African-American men in the 1980s, and the first African American to build a billion-dollar company.

His bestselling book, “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?“, is one of my favorites. A small portion of the book briefly describes a conversation Lewis had with another Black attorney.

During this conversation, he expressed his desire to see more African Americans involved in mergers and acquisitions as a business and wealth creation strategy. This sparked my personal interest in M&A and led me to connect with Cedric Powel.

Reginald F. Lewis

Cedric is an M&A Attorney who represents private and public companies, investment banks, and private equity firms in corporate and transactional matters, including mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures.

Cedric Powel

What are some of the potential benefits that M&A transactions may offer Black businesses (in particular small businesses)?

M&A can be an efficient way for small businesses, including Black-owned businesses, to increase their market share and their ability to compete with their larger organizations within the same industry.  Consolidation within a particular industry is a common tool used to capitalize on synergies across organizations and to grow businesses faster than may be possible organically.  The same is true for Black-owned businesses.

At what stage should a business owner consider an M&A transaction as part of their strategic plan?

M&A, either as part of a business’ growth strategy or as part of its owner’s exit strategy should be considered at founding or as soon as possible thereafter.  Basically, it’s never too early to start thinking about potential investment transactions—whether it be a growth equity fund raise, the acquisition of another business or business line, or a liquidity event for the founder/owner.  In my opinion, the potential benefits of an M&A transaction should always be a consideration as part of a business’ strategic plan.

What are some best practices for business owners who may be considering an M&A transaction to increase the likelihood of a successful transaction and integration process?

My main recommendation is to engage competent advisors—financial and legal—early.  M&A is as much an industry as it is a process.  And, like every other industry, there are qualified and sophisticated practitioner—financial, legal and otherwise—who focus on identifying, leading, and consummating M&A transactions on a daily basis.

Any business owner who is considering a potential M&A transaction should start, at minimum, by discussing the process with a financial advisor and a legal advisor to set expectations and better understand the potential pros and cons.

As part of your work representing private equity funds and strategic acquirers, what would you say makes a business/company most attractive for a growth investment or acquisition?

Institutional investors and strategic acquirers usually focus on the income generating history of the particular business, its scalability, and how that business fits the specific investor’s investment strategy.  There is no one size fits all answer here, but building a strong customer pipeline with recurring revenue and great margins is always a positive.

However, often customer profiles and concentration are industry specific, so it is important to discuss your specific business, the universe of potential investors, and the current M&A trends with a specialized financial advisor to get a better understanding for where your particular business fits in the industry landscape.

In addition to the financial condition of the business, corporate hygiene and record keeping are key.  It is important to be able to deliver complete and accurate records with respect to the business’ current and historical operations as part of any investment due diligence process.  Lack of appropriate record keeping can sour an investor’s outlook on an otherwise great business.


You can connect with Cedric on LinkedIn.

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