Is selling the company before it is too late SciQuest’s only option? by Jon Hansen

Posted on August 3, 2015


“I have enjoyed reading your notes on Sciquest. Seems like the only way the stock can go up at this point is if they sell the company because the fundamentals of their higher education segment sound like they are getting worse! Do you have any sense for the Board of directors and whether they are Steve Weihe’s cronies who will do only as he wishes, or whether they might realize, hey this isn’t working lets just sell this thing for whatever we can?” – Reader Comment (Equity Investment Firm)

One of the things that I enjoy the most about writing a blog, is the opportunity it provides to interact with readers directly. What is of particular interest, is the diverse background of the individuals who take the time to share their thoughts or ask questions regarding a particular story. In other words, it is not just what is being said, but who is actually saying it, that adds a unique dimension to any exchange.

Of the many who have contacted me regarding my coverage of SciQuest, there seems to be a notable percentage that come from the investment world. In fact I wrote about one such dialogue in my November 27th, 2014 post Call from investment banking firm regarding SciQuest post telling.

The above comment, which came via a social network, is another.

Now within every comment there can also be suggestions – sometimes subtle, sometimes not – as to possible new avenues of investigation. Consider the reader’s statement referenced in the opening paragraph of this post.

The question regarding the SciQuest board, is reminiscent of the one I received about the NIGP board. We of course now know the significance of that query in relation to the #CodeGate scandal.

Over the coming week I will look into the make-up of the SciQuest board, to see if there is any merit relative to concerns surrounding cronyism, and the suggestion that they are merely puppets of CEO Wiehe’s self-serving whimsy.

On the other side of this coin, I cannot ignore the possibility that the comment is also intended to be a veiled message to the SciQuest executive team. Specifically, sell . . . Sell . . . SELL the company now! In other words, I do not think it is a coincidence, that I started receiving the latest messages shortly after the Triangle Business Journal reported that the company is on an acquisition deal hunt. This could suggest that there is a growing divide or fork in the road in terms of what at least some investors want the company to do (sell), and what the company’s management wants to do (buy or stay the course).

“I’m tired of their excuses about sales execution problems or acquired churn. It’s a poorly managed company with a toxic work environment.”

At the end of the day, there is growing evidence that the company is potentially rotting from the inside out, as demonstrated by the suggestion of a toxic work environment. What gives possible credence to this last statement is the fact that approximately 2 months ago I received a similar assessment from a different source, one who actually works within the procurement industry.

In that comment – which also came via a direct message, the individual wrote; “After doing my research on the company, I immediately realized how toxic Stephen Wiehe is. I read that he had a habit of meeting with new employees and stating “Don’t f#@k with me”. Makes me think that he ticked someone off who decided he was part of the problem.”


While I am not certain where my investigation will ultimately lead, two things are clear at this point; 1) if I were an existing SciQuest customer, I would want to start talking about the impact that a possible sale would have on my organization and, 2) if I were seriously considering SciQuest as a possible solution, I would probably hold off on making a decision until the future of the company was more certain.

Stay tuned.


Posted in: Commentary