Destiny aims to become the next Belgian unicorn.

Last modified: 28 November 2023 13:28
The winner of the Best Mid Cap Corporate Deal 2021 at the Belgian M&A Awards has big plans.

“Having ambition” is Daan De Wever’s natural state of being. Destiny’s CEO has a track record of realizing his ambitions. Through three major acquisitions in Scandinavia, Destiny Group grew to become the largest cloud telecom company in Europe, with nearly 200 million euros in revenue, two years faster than anticipated. Destiny recently won the M&A Award for Best Mid Cap Corporate Deal 2021. Currently, the focus is on integrating the acquired companies, rebranding the entire group, and entering the exclusive club of Belgian unicorns.

Acquiring companies is an essential part of Destiny’s buy-and-build strategy. Over the past year, the Belgian company has emerged as a European leader and innovator in secure cloud and business communication for SMEs. Destiny Group is now Europe’s largest UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) provider.

However, CEO Daan De Wever doesn’t find acquiring companies difficult in itself. “I feel that we have a high attractiveness,” he says. “I know I can consolidate a lot, buy a lot of legacy quickly, but then we also run a big risk. Growing strongly in revenue and profit is one thing, but if there is no coherence, and the purchased parts are barely integrated, we don’t create a sustainable story.”

Company of the Year 2021?

Daan knows where he wants to go, a vision he has held since the inception of Destiny in 2008. At that time, he and his brother Samuel declared their intention to become quite substantial. “Everyone thinks you have to go to the US to become big, but I think we can build big companies in Europe just as well, in our own way,” he said to De Tijd.

The De Wever brothers, along with the management, investors from APAX (since 2019), and their team of over 700 employees, work towards this goal. Destiny was chosen as Promising Company of the Year in 2015. In 2019, Daan De Wever was named ICT Personality of the Year by DataNews. In 2022, the company is in the running to be named Company of the Year 2021. Recently, Destiny was awarded Best Mid Cap Corporate Deal at the M&A Awards for the leap it made through three major acquisitions in Scandinavia, followed by acquiring two small companies in Sweden.

“Scandinavia is interesting for us because it is technologically mature,” says Daan. “In Sweden, it’s already mobile-first, and all companies are in the cloud. In contrast, in France, we still see mainly desktops on desks. Drawing from best practices in the North, we are ready for the developments in the South.”

Rebranding to a Unified Brand

The growth focus on the European market is coupled with an internal initiative within the group aimed at integrating all companies into one new narrative. On one hand, it’s a technological story. “Each company has its history, legacy, and systems it has been working with for a long time. The big question is: how many of these different systems do you accept within your group? The complexity quickly becomes too great, and the cost too high. In this regard, I certainly acted too slowly in the beginning. I retained too many proprietary systems, too much history, and context. With the latest acquisitions, I know how to quickly discard what does not contribute to the functioning and growth of the group and its services.”

On the other hand, Destiny is embarking on writing a new brand story, letting go of and transcending its own history. In January, a grand rebranding begins with a new name, logo, and URLs. “Everything is set today,” Daan teases. “The most challenging part of rebranding today is acquiring the top 100 URLs. As soon as you buy one .com, there are automatic systems that buy the other URLs and then offer them at a high price. Through some negotiations, we managed to secure all .com, .be, .nl, .ai, .oi, .uk, … URLs.

New Belgian Unicorn

Destiny was still a game, according to Daan. The new group is ambitious. “Our goal is a strong footprint in Europe, with activities through operators beyond. Today, we already provide our platform to operators in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.” In Belgium, Destiny already manages 31% of companies’ cloud ports, surpassing Telenet and Proximus. Internationally, they compete with giants like Microsoft and Zoom. “We are increasingly being compared to them. I am proud of that, but it also requires us to stay vigilant.”

His ambition will undoubtedly help him and his team. “The next five years are expected to see tremendous growth rates. Our ambition is to surpass the market. If we claim to be a market leader in Europe, we must live up to that.”

Where this growth takes them? With the triple play in Sweden, Destiny now crowns itself as the largest in Europe in its sector, with a doubling of revenue to nearly 200 million euros. Within three years, the telecom group plans to generate at least 300 million euros in revenue with a significantly increased number of users. Meanwhile, the company’s value is soaring to very attractive heights. “We aspire to be the next Belgian unicorn. We believe this can be achieved within two years.”

Are his employees and teams still on board?

What is less visible is what happens behind the scenes of these acquisitions, integrations, and impressive growth figures—the inspiring company culture with three key points: simplicity, dedication, and a ‘yes we can’ mentality, where making mistakes is also allowed.

To monitor this, an impressive internal well-being platform operates within the group, showing to what extent employees and teams are engaged. “Our internal ‘Work Vitamins’ platform, developed in collaboration with Professor Bert Schreurs from VUB, precisely depicts the well-being and engagement status. A few times a year, through a large online survey, we ask how people feel, what concerns them, and what they would like to see differently. This academically supported well-being story is crucial for connecting people within the company. With a few clicks, everyone consults their profile, and leaders, including myself, gain insight into the dynamics within teams and countries.”

During the Teams interview, Daan briefly shares the dashboard of the platform. With a few clicks, he checks some indicators in Denmark. A heatmap informs him about feelings of job insecurity, role conflicts, meaningfulness, feedback from managers, emotional burden, etc. “In terms of engagement, Denmark is doing well. But I see that there are certainly areas for improvement in terms of well-being. When I click through the obstacles, I gain insight into the areas that need attention.”

Extremely high speed of innovation

“If my brother is decisive for the innovation and engineering of this company, my talent lies in cultural oversight, in consciously looking at how the organization can progress, be fast,” says Daan. “If I compare it to cycling, I see that the cadence is quite high. So, every twelve months, we have a completely different company. It is my role and strength to get everyone on board with this growth story.”

In addition, Daan reflects on his role within the larger context. “My biggest failure would be to have to leave the company because I can no longer make it relevant. The role of the CEO is to remain relevant. But honestly, I’m not afraid of that, even though technology is evolving so quickly. You should know that we come from traditional telephony. In contrast, today we create customer experience with solutions that are omni- and multichannel, including social media integration. We are moving towards a platform that brings everything together and provides constant insight into what is being said about your company.”

Daan sees a lot happening in this regard. Every day, he discovers startups that can complement the Destiny platform, with solutions related to customer experience, marketing, workflow management, social media, etc. But although he is quite open to acquisitions, not everything needs to be assimilated by the group. “Our platform wants to be the integrator of many startups and innovations, the glue between all these stories.”

And with that, the Destiny team is building a positive future in which we can undoubtedly expect new acquisitions.

This article was previously published on House of Executives.


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