This year, the Association of Corporate Growth (ACG) Utah will celebrate Utah business leaders and their enterprises who not only survived 2020 but were frontrunners in business leadership and growth. With a focus on “Celebrating Utah Deal Makers,” ACG Utah will celebrate the recipients of its M&A Award and Growth Capital Award at its virtual 17th Annual DealSource Summit and Ski Event, scheduled March 4-5. M&A Award recipients are Ryan and Ashley Smith for their acquisition of the Utah Jazz; and the recipient of the Growth Capital Award is Lucid. Lucid CEO and Co-founder Karl Sun will accept the award on behalf of Lucid.
Jason Castor, ACG Utah president says, “ACG Utah has been celebrating business leaders in Utah since 2004, but in all those years, I think few have had to face the challenges experienced last year. The ACG Utah award recipients for 2020 will be remembered as those who succeeded in one of the most challenging years – on many levels – in recent memory. They couldn’t be more deserving of these awards.”
M&A Award On Oct. 28, 2020, M&A Award recipients Ryan and Ashley Smith announced they would be purchasing a majority stake in the Utah Jazz for $1.66 billion. Ryan Smith is founder and executive chairman of experience management company Qualtrics. According to Smith, the way the deal came together with the Miller family for the purchase of the Jazz will be held up by the NBA and other leagues as the way a transition in sports ownership, legacy and stewardship should go, moving forward.
Prior to the sale, Qualtrics had worked extensively with the NBA. Smith says for him, and like a lot of other basketball fans, an opportunity to become involved on a business level had always been a dream. Before investing in the Jazz, the Smiths investigated buying a minority ownership in the Phoenix Suns as well as a majority stake in the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Smith says having grown up in Utah and now raising their children here, they couldn’t imagine cheering for anyone but the Utah Jazz. He says the Jazz are a community asset, and even though they are not the most lucrative of his interests, he asked himself, “What are we doing for the community? We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This is a community asset.”
During 2018, Qualtrics’ founders sold the company to SAP, but in Smith’s words, continued to work Qualtrics as though they still owned it. During 2020, the company founders worked with SAP to take the company public in Utah’s largest IPO on record. Simultaneously, Smith was working out the transition of the Jazz ownership. “I kept telling myself, ‘Do not blink. You can’t time this stuff,’ and Ashley and I would just roll with it. Now we’re figuring out how to manage all of it,” he says jokingly. Smith says making the deal was in some ways the easy part. What follows is the hard part. “Before the Qualtrics IPO, we all said, ‘What if we had the chance to build Qualtrics even more and take it public? We could continue to create liquidity for Utah and continue to build more jobs.’ We’re all in this together. I want to use the Jazz platform to affect change in the community as much as we can. It’s an incredible platform to bring people together. Left to our own devices in the world, it seems like we’re moving apart. I think if we can look back 30 years from now and say Utah managed the world differently, we all rallied behind one common goal of unity and love, that would be worth it all. It’s really all about the community.”
Smith says, “We’re just going to try our hardest to make Utah proud, make the state proud and continue the legacy for which the Millers have done such a great job. We’re excited to build something long term. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the spirit in which everything came together.” The M&A Award was accepted by Ryan Smith.
Growth Capital Award ACG Utah’s Growth Capital Award recognizes a transaction that reflects the continued partnership between innovative founders, a talented management team and a committed investor group. Located in South Jordan, Lucid was founded by Ben Dilts and Karl Sun in 2010, when they launched Lucidchart, a web-based proprietary platform that allows users to collaborate on drawing, revising and sharing charts and diagrams. While many businesses were struggling to stay alive during 2020, Lucid experienced a year filled with milestones and successes. In April 2020, Lucid secured an additional $52 million Series D round of funding – the fourth for Lucid; passed $100 million in annual recurring revenue; launched new product LucidSpark in only four months; opened its second global office in Melbourne, Australia (Lucid opened its first global office in Amsterdam, Netherlands during 2019), and celebrated its 10-year anniversary. As well as LucidSpark, a virtual whiteboard for remote collaboration, and Lucidchart, Lucid is also the creator of Lucidpress, a web-based desktop publishing software app used to create brochures, flyers, newsletters, magazine layout and design, and more. Throughout its history, Lucid has responded to market needs and is now widely recognized as the premier visual collaboration suite on the market, helping more than 100,000 companies innovate for the future. The Growth Capital Award was accepted by Lucid CEO and Co-founder, Karl Sun.
Karl Sun, CEO and co-founder of Lucid says, “When it was just four or five of us working in the basement of student housing 10 years ago, I think we knew there was a need for the product we were building, but I never could have imagined it would bring us to where we are today. Our investors and partners have played a vital part in that success, but I’m most proud of this recognition for our team. We’ve done some incredible things in the last year under some pretty difficult circumstances, and the resilience and grit they’ve embodied to pull off one of our best years yet has been inspiring to be a part of.”
ACG Utah salutes Ryan and Ashley Smith and Lucid for their visionary leadership, courage and accomplishment during what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult years for business our country has seen for decades.