John Hynes joins Applied Insight as CEO
John Hynes, the one-time CEO of TASC and chief operating officer of Engility Corp., has found a new spot in the government market.
He was named today as chief executive of up-and-coming mid-tier player Applied Insight.
Hynes said he was drawn to AI and the mid-tier market in part because of the nimble and agile way mid-tier companies operate.
“There is a need for legit companies that can innovate and solve mission problems for their customers,” he told me.
Through a series of acquisitions since its spinoff from Intelligent Decisions in early 2018, AI is building a platform centered around national security requirements. The company has capabilities in cloud migration, cybersecurity, mission IT and big data analytics.
Hynes takes over the CEO role from Gavin Long, who will remain chairman. Long is the managing director of the private equity group Acacia, which acquired Intelligent Decisions in 2017. When AI was spun out of Intelligent Decisions, its name was changed to ID Technologies. Acacia owns both companies.
One of the reasons Long recruited Hynes was because they wanted a senior leader at AI that could build the infrastructure of an integrated company. AI has made one publicly disclosed acquisition -- Organizational Strategies Inc. -- and others are in the works.
“Acacia has a decided investment thesis and there is a logic to everything we’ve acquired,” Long said. “But there are skills we don’t have that John is respected for.”
Chief among those is building a culture that puts an emphasis on collaboration and cooperation across the organization.
Hynes said the first part of his focus at AI will be inward, building out the leadership team that will draw from internal candidates as well as new hires. He’ll also be putting in a more robust business development and capture team.
“One of the things I’m excited about is that this isn’t a synergy play,” he said. In other words, the investment thesis isn’t dependent on buying companies and then pulling costs out to make the numbers work.
Hynes previously led TASC, which was then acquired by Engility in 2015 where he eventually became COO. The COO position was then eliminated in 2017 in a cost savings move. Cost synergies were a major part of the logic behind Engility’s acquisition of TASC.
But that is not the case with AI, he says.
“This is about putting complimentary pieces together and making more out of them than their parts. We’ll invest in collaboration and innovation across the company,” Hynes said.
He said he had been thinking about the mid-tier as an attractive area when Long approached him.
“I had been following Acacia from a distance,” he said. “As I got more insight into what they are up to, I realized they were on the same path I was.”
AI also isn’t a startup. “They are well underway,” Hynes said. “They have a nice platform that we are adding to.”
AI currently has over $120 million in annual revenue and more acquisitions will likely be announced in the coming weeks.
The company’s national security focus also was a draw for Hynes. “There is a higher motive here to do good things for the country,” he said.
Hynes said that he’ll build out the company’s structure that emphasizes collaboration across customers and technologies. That will be enabled by a chief technology officer. The company will have customer facing units.
He’ll be building out business development and capture management functions to pursue what he called “set pieces” driving by request for proposals and other solicitations.
“But we also want to innovate from the other end of the spectrum where we are solving customer problems,” he said. “It is less about responding to an RFP and more about getting in there and understanding and solving their problems.”
Hynes’ focus will shift externally as more of the internal processes are put in place.
“I want to spend more time with customers and employees and understanding what is happening in the field,” he said. “That’s a lot of fun, frankly. But it also helps me understand what is going on and helps me in deciding how to deploy resources.”
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 24, 2019 at 10:00 AM