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Merger Made In Heaven

Monday, December 29, 2003
It was the middle of 2001 when we learned we were going to merge with another company. Any change that did not involve cardboard boxes and the word “layoff” seemed like a good idea the time. Around this time all of the employees were notified of a contest. The contest was to come up with a name for the new company, which was a merger of Ultraprise Inc. and LoanTrader Inc. We wanted a new completely new name for a new and reinvigorated company. We were given three simple rules to follow:

  • The new name shall not contain the word “Ultraprise”.
  • The new name shall not contain the word “Loan”.
  • The new name shall not contain the word “Trader”.

See if you can catch the name given to the new company in the following press release.

"Our merger brings together the best technology in the primary and secondary markets of the mortgage industry," said John Bourne, chief executive officer of Ultraprise Loan Technologies. "Given the current investment climate, the fact that we have continued to attract capital is a testament to our strong value proposition in this space. With this new round of financing and current contracts with several of the industry's leading companies, we expect to see profitability by the end of 2001."

As you can see, creativity had reached an all time high at the new company, but at least we only broke two of the three rules.

There were a lot of good reasons to merge the two companies – after all we had a lot in common.

  • Individually we had each attracted and worked our way through $20 million of venture capital.
  • Management for both companies operated under the boom time assumption that success is measured by how much money you can spend not how much money you can earn.
  • We both had colorful CEO’s - one came to work in a limousine (now you see where the money was going), the other painted his toe nails the company colors - yellow and blue.
  • We both wrote Mortgage Software using Microsoft technologies.

This was indeed a merger made in heaven – with so much going for us, how could we fail. There were a few minor problems but both the management and the investors deemed them to be insignificant.

  • One company was in California the other in Maryland – but why should the fact that the entire continental United States separated us, be considered a problem.
  • One company wrote its code exclusively in VB the other in C++ (what’s a language difference between friends)
  • One company spent many man years on productizing a solution to the point of it being a point and click installation (the fact that no one bought it deterred them not the least), the other believed it showed the client how committed they were if the entire development team assembled together for the deployment each there to tweak his little section of code.

They were indeed interesting times (It was around this time that I understood why the Chinese proverb ‘May you live in interesting times’ was considered a curse). We reported to managers on different coasts, who we had never met before, worked on Applications we had never seen before and with customers we had never met all in the name of intergration. Instead of becoming profitable by the end of 2001, we were all seeing a bit of ourselves in the hysterical Odd Todd cartoon, and looking at the day time television reviews to see what we could watch during our new found free time.