Ten years, 2,400 handwritten journal pages or $300 million.
All different measures of the value of Salix Technologies Inc. of Gaithersburg, which recently announced plans to be acquired in an all-stock deal for the latter figure by Tellabs Inc. of Lisle, Ill.
All of these mergers, of course, have stories behind the headlines of "Company X Buys Company Y for Z."
Salix's story is told in a decade's worth of daily journals that founder and chief executive Daniel Simpkins kept in spiral notebooks, where he recorded the good hires, the horrible partnerships, and all the big and little things he was likely to forget over time.
He says he may turn it into a book someday: "It developed into the real journal of my life."
And, like many of his colleagues in the local technology industry, his life is about to be changed by a merger.
Simpkins has watched other graduates of Mindshare, a local group of start-up executives who meet once a month to share war stories, successfully sell off their companies. Part of that alumni group is Hemant Kanakia, who sold Torrent Networking Technologies Group to Ericsson for $450 million.
But Simpkins had always been cautious about potential merger partners. "You want to make sure your puzzle piece fits into their puzzle," says Simpkins. When companies came to him suggesting an acquisition, he initially didn't want to say yes. "You want to say, `Hell, no!' " he says.
Salix's negotiations with Tellabs started to get serious in late summer when Tellabs began asking Simpkins to justify company costs and reveal proprietary information about his switching products, which offer local and long-distance voice and Internet service over any network infrastructure.
Simpkins found he had to choose his battles.
"I wanted to make sure my employees were taken care of; I wanted the name to remain and to maintain a degree of autonomy," he says.
All 80 employees of Salix will have jobs at the new company. Because about half of them are engineers and there's a well-known shortage of technically trained workers, that was the easy part.
Keeping the company name was harder. "That was a fight," Simpkins said.
When he argued that Salix was a brand, Tellabs said Tellabs was one, too. Simpkins won that one: Salix will stay as the name of a division of Tellabs, and it will also remain in Gaithersburg. But he lost on another front: It will be a division rather than an independent subsidiary, which would have given him more control.
Simpkins was fighting for these things because he intends to stay on indefinitely to run the division and help manage the merger. "Tellabs did not want to do this transaction unless I ran Salix," says Simpkins, who doesn't have a contract.
When the reality of the deal set in, "I closed my door and I cried," Simpkins says. "It occurred to me that I was selling my company. It was bittersweet."
The sweet part: Simpkins personally owns a third of Salix. Early plans for the money include starting a nonprofit foundation and giving to his alma mater, Cornell.
And the bitter: "I'm no longer calling the shots."
Shannon Henry's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about Salix in our cover story on Page 14.