From Mired to Acquired: Isilon Systems Reinvented by McBru Influencer Relations

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Challenge: In 2006, Isilon was a NASDAC startup darling. Share prices nearly doubled on the company’s first day of trading. It was the best tech IPO since the 2000 bubble. But investigations found many of Isilon’s sales numbers were fraudulent. SEC and class-action lawsuits followed, and the company quickly faltered. To clean house, Isilon’s founder returned as CEO in late 2007. With firm leadership and new products developed, Isilon was ready to begin a new chapter. But market perception, lack of credibility and damaged reputation still lingered.

Action: Isilon came to McBru for strategic help on how to get a positive message out to the media, industry analysts and other influencers who hadn’t forgotten the post-IPO problems three years earlier. With perceptions still highly unfavorable, McBru designed a broad-based influencer relations program that targeted industry journalists and analysts, and highlighted a long-term vision for Isilon’s business and technology. McBru set up a press tour for pre-product-launch briefings by Isilon’s CEO, to bring skeptical journalists and analysts to the table and repair damaged perceptions, face-to-face. These discussions proved Isilon wanted to hit the reset button on the mistakes of the past and start over.

Results: Based on coverage alone, our investor relations program was a great success with dramatic improvements in both volume and the tone of media coverage for Isilon. The one-on-one press briefings repaired relationships with key influencers and helped reverse negative perceptions of Isilon, which gave the company time to prove itself again. Coverage moved away from criticisms of the past and began to focus on the real value Isilon was bringing to the IT industry. The markets responded. By the end of 2010, Isilon had finally reached the ultimate business objective: They were acquired by EMC Corporation for $2.25 billion. Investor Relations problem solved.

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