A note from our founder, David J. Rynecki
The disappearing bananas
People often ask me how I got the idea for Blue Heron, a company that now has 100+ employees, offices in New York and London, and clients who enlist us in conducting deep research on complex topics. I tell them it was simple: the disappearing bananas.
While working as a journalist at Fortune in the late 1990s, I lived through the disastrous merger of AOL and our parent company, Time-Warner. Shortly after the merger, an army of consultants arrived in our office. They poked around, asked occasional questions, and mostly observed us like we were a science experiment. Eventually, they recommended that the editor stop stocking our break room with free bananas and instead replace them with candy kept in a bowl behind the office manager’s desk. This was just one sign of misplaced attention. Across the company, I could see a breakdown of culture. As Wall Street analysts praised the merger and forecasted incredible financials, we could see pending doom on the basis of small signs emerging across the organization. None of the problems mattered to investors until everything imploded.
This experience helped form the core philosophy behind Blue Heron. Specifically:
Businesses are judged on the basis of the numbers they produce.
But those numbers do not come from spreadsheets and financial models. They are the sum total of decisions and actions made by people.
Therefore, by understanding how those people think and act, we can more accurately value a business and predict its direction.
When we opened for business in 2005, it was just me working out of a spare room. Today, Blue Heron is the leading provider of qualitative due diligence. We examine hundreds of businesses each year, conduct thousands of primary interviews, and review untold pages of documents. Our focus goes way beyond the bananas to include all variety of business issues. By applying our investigative journalism model, we examine management teams, culture, customers, and competition.
We have developed proprietary systems for evaluating the health and direction of businesses and the people that run them. But we are more than systems and processes. After thousands of projects examining companies, we have developed our own sense of how we ourselves should operate as a team. Because we know what makes good businesses and bad businesses, good leaders and bad leaders, we have created a culture that respects experience, holds integrity as the highest value, and displays insatiable curiosity.
Founder and CEO