Living With Acquisition: Robert Ostfield One Year After Joining Channel Zero

August 15, 2014 Ben Myers

There are two parts to an acquisition: the numbers and the personalities.

Robert Ostfield was careful to keep the latter in mind when ANDPOP, the company he led as CEO since 2007, was acquired by Channel Zero in 2013.

Robert Ostfield - Channel Zero

Robert Ostfield – Managing Director, Channel Zero Digital

“Putting valuation and cash aside, can you actually live with these people and can you fulfill the obligation?” Ostfield asked.

“Those aren’t thing you can fit on an excel file.”

His job was to bring in the business for great-looking video content websites like ANDPOP and Now, as Managing Director of Channel Zero Digital, Ostfield has to work with President and COO Cal Millar and others who keep an eye on the broadcast side of Channel Zero’s business, such as Hamilton’s CHCH and classic movie specialty channel Rewind.

Ostfield calls Millar both a friend and a mentor, and noted how Millar offered advice to ANDPOP before the acquisition.

“You’re going to see [your coworkers] more often than your family, so you’ve got to be sure you can live with them,” he said. “Those aren’t thing you can fit on an excel file.”

At #LeanEnterpriseTO on Aug. 25, Ostfield will join Satish Kanwar of Shopify and Jordan Satok of Fuse Powered, two entrepreneurs who also sold to larger companies, to discuss the perks and downfalls of joining up with another company.

The drawbacks

Though the perks might be obvious, Ostfield warns that the detractors are the little annoyances of working at a bigger company.

He warns to keep in mind “the reality and the difference in culture of joining a bigger company.” You can’t just go to the nearest shop when a member of your team needs a new computer, he said. Now, there’s paperwork. Ostfield remains pragmatic about working in a different paradigm.

“I work in a business and an industry that changes very quickly. I don’t have the time to wait around.”

“It’s just the nature of the beast. There’s more steps in joining a company of this size.”

As the leader of the digital division at Channel Zero, Ostfield tries to keep the ethos of a smaller company for his team members. “You don’t want to lose the hustle,” he said.

“I don’t want to say that I don’t follow the rules, but I try to be a little more aggressive,” Ostfield said. “I work in a business and an industry that changes very quickly. I don’t have the time to wait around.”

Understanding the hustle

When you’re being a bit of a rebel inside a new company, it’s important that you have an understanding with the higher-ups.

“They were actually pretty supportive and understanding of that mentality and drive, which I think is really important.”

Most importantly, the acquisition is working to grow the business for both the digital and broadcast components at Channel Zero.

“It came to a point where we both needed to grow our business,” Ostfield said of his early conversations with Millar. “The [companies] each solved the other one’s problems.”

Use code LETO_DX3_25 for 25% off regular price tickets at #LeanEnterpriseTO

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