True Acquires Climate Tech Leader Hobbs & Towne

Two of the fastest growing Top 25 executive search firms combine to create a new powerhouse in ESG, sustainability and climate technology recruiting. Hunt Scanlon Ventures goes inside the latest deal.

December 7, 2021 – Haddonfield, NJ-based True, a global executive talent management platform, has acquired climate technology and sustainability executive search firm Hobbs & Towne, Inc. (HTI). Led by Andrew Towne and Robert Hobbs, HTI will continue to serve its mission-driven clients and provide a greater range of capabilities under True.

True, one of the fastest growing search firms of the past decade, reported global revenues of $116.5 million last year. The firm placed No. 7 in the Hunt Scanlon Top 25 rankings. Hobbs & Towne ranked No. 24 and was crowned the fastest growing search firm of the year, reporting a 59 percent growth rate.

“This is a wonderful transaction for both firms, a perfect fit,” said Scott A. Scanlon, CEO of Hunt Scanlon Ventures, which helped facilitate the transaction and served as a strategic advisor to Hobbs & Towne. “As we all make the transformational shift to cleaner, more sustainable living, True is buying into a super high growth category with big momentum. For its part, Hobbs & Towne is joining one of the most progressive leadership teams in our industry,” he noted.

Hyde Park Capital served as the exclusive investment banker to Hobbs & Towne on the transaction. “We are excited to have found such strong strategic alignment between True and HTI,” said vice president Matt Gladdish. “We are excited to see our client’s contribution to the True platform in the coming years as they continue to solidify their pole position in recruiting across the clean tech and sustainability categories,” he added. Hyde Park Capital is focused on the middle-market, specializing in mergers & acquisitions and capital raising with significant experience representing family and founder owned companies like Hobbs & Towne.

“The climate tech space is a perfect example of the disruptive areas True thrives in,” said Brad Stadler, co-CEO and co-founder of True. “HTI has set the industry standard for placing leaders at cutting-edge tech companies that are crucial to building a better world.” True’s climate tech practice is new, he said, “but will be powered by experts with decades of experience,” he noted. “We are thrilled to complement that expertise with our global candidate network and a variety of products and services to bring executive talent to game-changing companies through various phases of growth.”

“We are proud to be working with a group of leaders and search professionals who are not only commercially aligned with True, but who also share the same beliefs around company culture,” said Joe Riggione, co-CEO and co-founder of True. “We are welcoming more than 30 great people who will be additive to our culture of collaboration and transparency. We are people-focused and future-facing, and we are committed to and passionate about mission-driven work. We are thrilled to have Andy, Bobby and the rest of the team onboard.”

Related: ZRG Acquires Walking the Talk

Hobbs & Towne was founded in 1997 and specializes in the greening of all industries with focuses on energy, mobility, food, agriculture, and water. HTI has worked with more than 600 companies, including climate intelligence company, Cervest; plant-based meat substitute business, Impossible Foods; and Proterra, an electric vehicle technology manufacturer. HTI’s team of more than 30 recruiters and employees works from San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Toronto, Philadelphia and London.

The firm specializes in working with transformational growth companies, and it has partnered with many of the premier investors around the world, including Breakthrough Energy Partners, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Oaktree Capital and Platinum Equity, to build top-tier leadership and investment teams for transformative companies.

Sustainability and Clean Tech Meet the ‘Perfect Storm’ as Sector Surges

No one was saying it in so many words, but the report that the United Nations Global Compact and Russell Reynolds Associates released last year was aimed at nothing less than helping to save the world. Six years ago, leaders from 193 nations at an historic UN summit adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that involved everything from eradicating hunger to taking urgent action to overcome climate change. They were big, tough, imposing goals, with a deadline of 2030. With but nine years to go, the world remains far from meeting these objectives.

One big reason that progress is lagging is the contrast between what business leaders say about their commitment to sustainability and what they have actually delivered. For example, a previous study showed that 92 percent of CEOs said they believe integration of sustainability will be important to the future success of their business. Yet only 48 percent of chief executives said they were implementing sustainability in their operations. Only 21 percent of CEOs, meanwhile, said they believe that business is playing a critical role in achieving the SDGs. Read more in the special Executive Search Review on Cleantech!

“Bobby and I pioneered sustainability recruiting, and have seen it evolve from a niche idea to a global necessity,” said Mr. Towne. “Joining forces with True allows us to make an even bigger impact at the most exciting moment ever for green technology and sustainability.”

Related: Sustainability and Clean Tech Meet the ‘Perfect Storm’ as Sector Surges

“We’re looking forward to having access to a larger, global internal and external network,” said Mr. Hobbs. “As part of True, our partners and associates will have more operational and execution support, and greater opportunities for career growth and progression.”

For more than two decades, Mr. Towne and Mr. Hobbs have led a talent revolution of sorts across the space, placing over 2,500 leaders into hundreds of companies globally. The firm made a recent turn in expanding its financial advisory work, playing off an intimate network to provide strategic introductions and capital raise advice, interim management, restructuring counseling, leadership assessment & executive coaching, and culture consulting through a newly established DE&I platform.

Hunt Scanlon Media Launches M&A Advisory Network for Recruiters

Professional services firms – and executive recruiting outfits in particular – have a long history of finding their way through tough times. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Many search firms have used this time to dust off their own continuity and succession plans, or to reconsider that merger or acquisition which was something of a nuisance when times were flush. Others have taken a hard look at their capitalization strategies. This crisis, like no other, has driven many of the most well-known and respected brands in the recruiting business to reassess everything about their businesses, top to bottom.

Behind the scenes, this has been an active period for executive recruitment firms. To meet their advisory needs, Hunt Scanlon Media launched a new set of solutions to assist search firms and talent solutions providers seeking mergers, acquisitions, or funding connections. Founders Scott A. Scanlon and Christopher W. Hunt discuss the new venture and the state of the industry.

Climate technology has been growing in significance in the world’s economy in recent years with venture capital investors pouring $30.8 billion into promising climate tech companies in the first three quarters of 2021. Indeed, over the last decade, clean technology, energy and sustainability have moved from the periphery to the center of the global economy. “The question no longer is whether this trend will take hold,” said Mr. Scanlon, “but rather when large markets will coalesce, and which technologies and companies will prevail. All of that is happening now.”

Related: CTR Group Acquires RM Nephew & Associates

Recent Funding

LLR Partners, a private equity firm based in Philadelphia, made an investment in True this past spring. The partnership is aimed at developing and expanding innovation within the talent space.

LLR Partners Makes Equity Investment in True
Private equity firms continue to pair up with executive recruiters at a blistering pace.

High growth rates, new layers of incremental revenue streams, and AI-powered talent intelligence tools aimed at revolutionizing the sector are creating a perfect storm for PE investors who now view search firms as an investment of choice. Hunt Scanlon Ventures talked to True about their deal with LLR Partners.

LLR Partners, which has raised more than $5 billion to fund investments across the technology and healthcare sectors, is said to have bought into True’s mission: to disrupt a stagnant industry in desperate need of tech-driven talent solutions. “They expressed interest and we were compelled to listen,” said Mr. Stadler at the time of the investment, “even though we were not looking for a financial partner. “Through our discussions, we quickly became aligned on how they could operationally and strategically support our long-term vision.”

“We also aligned on our ability to control our own destiny with no pressure to transact,” said Mr. Riggione. “Our collective vision is for True to remain independent and become the industry’s dominant brand. We couldn’t be more excited about partnering with LLR to get there.”

Related: ZRG Acquires Turnkey Search

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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