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Google Wants Even Earlier Exits than in “Early Exits”

by Basil Peters on June 1, 2010 · 2 comments

The main thesis of my book Early Exits is that entrepreneurs and angel investors would make more money, and have more fun, if they built companies around a strategy of early exits.

In “Early Exits” show that most M&A transactions are under $30 million. More recently, I have been saying that  the median price might be as low as $15 million.

Part of my message to entrepreneurs is that they don’t need to build companies to be profitable before they can execute very good M&A exits. This is a main theme in why I think this period will come to be called a Golden Era for tech entrepreneurs.

The fundamental driver behind this trend is that big companies have learned that M&A is the best way for them to grow.

But even I was surprised to learn just how early Google wants to do acquisitions.

Charles Rim, is one of the five most senior M&A professionals at Google worldwide. He did an interview for Corum’s online “M&A Class.” I am grateful to Corum for organizing this event and for posting the archive. (The Corum archive does not seem to be available any longer, so I’ve re-posted below. There’s also a transcript here.)

A few  of the fascinating points from the  interview are:

“90% plus of our  transactions are small transactions.  So  that would be less than 20 people, less than $20 million and that is truly the sweet  spot

“we do prefer companies that are pre-revenue

“technical staff, engineering, a strong engineering team, these are the  things that we think are very important to the future success of Google and  important for us to use acquisitions in that manner.”

This provides some excellent insight into how a very large company like Google thinks about acquisitions. This is a good confirmation of the trend toward early exits, but it goes even further than I did in my book.

Google actually prefers companies that are pre-revenue. In other words, Google doesn’t want to buy the business, they want to buy the team. The people. The entrepreneurial ingredient  that they know they need to keep their company growing and healthy.

You’ve heard it from one of the guys who really knows -  you can sell a tech company today long before it’s profitable, even before it has revenue. And if it was up to Google, it would be the latter.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Basil Peters August 29, 2011 at 10:10 am

Comments from http://www.AngelBlog.net

allenrohner

This is really interesting.

As an entrepreneur myself, how do I get Google’s attention, before I make $20M in revenue? I would love to be acquired by GOOG, but I’d feel kind of silly writing them an email saying “hey, I’m the author of Foo, I would love to sell for $15M.” I have a hard time believing they’d be seriously interested that way.

My guess is they want to hear about me from somewhere else. Where?

basilpeters

Great question, Allen. In my first company we effectively put a bunch of cash in a paper bag to pay someone to leak to our major competitor that we were in play (seriously, here’s the story if you are interested.

Fortunately, that is now totally ‘old school’.

Unfortunately, this is not something you can do yourself. No matter how smart you are, there is just too much to learn about M&A transactions. (This video describes everything I did wrong the first time here.)

Please don’t make the mistakes I did the first time. Find a really excellent, experienced M&A advisor in your local area.

——————————————————————————————————-

Great post Basil. I have also been seeing this trend from more companies than just Google lately. An unexpected side-effect of the new economics of building web companies has made it uneconomical for larger companies to support R&D departments. More companies are shutting them down and using the startup ecosystem as their own internal R&D. Turns out the companies that are good at finding these companies are the ones who are innovating and winning over their respective competition.

basilpeters

Thanks, Danny. You are correct – it’s not just Google. This is a trend.

It’s not only that it’s uneconomical for the big companies to do R&D. I believe it’s that today’s best and brightest prefer to be entrepreneurs and join organizations like Bootup Labs, Techstars and YCombinator.

dannyrobinson

hallelujah!

——————————————————————————————————


David K

Great post (and great blog; added it to my RSS feed). I work for a pretty large software company and we grow almost completely by acquisition now for pretty much all the reasons you enumerated.

basilpeters

Thanks for contributing David. I agree – it’s not just Google or the Fortune 100. Most medium and large companies have learned that it’s more capital efficient to grow by acquisition than internal, organic methods.

Reply

Basil Peters August 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Reactions

mylifeandart 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Big companies R shutting R&D down using the startup ecosystem as internal R&D http://bit.ly/8ahb1k via @basilpeters

mylifeandart 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
@sramana Angel @basilpeters of Early Exits fame, say Google prefers 2 buy pre-rev startups, buy the team http://bit.ly/8ahb1k Interview him?

diego_s 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Inc. Magazine selects Early Exits as one of the “Best Books for Business Owners of 2009″ http://bit.ly/8ahb1k via @EarlyExits

mylifeandart 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
RT @fundfindr @basilpeters Google Wants Even Earlier Exits than I describe in “Early Exits” http://ow.ly/116Lr #1M1M

AngelCatalyst 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Google Wants Even Earlier Exits than in Basil Peters’ “Early Exits” – http://is.gd/75RL5

EnCoreMfgLtd 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
RT @basilpeters: Inc. Magazine selects Early Exits as one of the “Best Books for Business Owners of 2009″ http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

allbombs 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
RT @bootuplabs: RT @EarlyExits Google prefers “pre-revenue” companies. http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

linksgoogle 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Google Wants Even Earlier Exits than I describe in “Early Exits” http://bit.ly/7dWiuS

alanchiu 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Inc. Magazine selects Early Exits as one of the “Best Books for Business Owners of 2009″ http://bit.ly/8ahb1k (via @basilpeters)

thealzel 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Congrats @basilpeters Inc. Magazine selects Early Exits as one of the “Best Books for Business Owners of 2009″ http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

bootuplabs 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
RT @EarlyExits Google prefers “pre-revenue” companies. http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

dinogane 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Entrepreneurs would make more money if they built companies around a strategy of early exits. http://bit.ly/5TjbCU #fb #in

ogopogo 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
RT @basilpeters Inc. Magazine selects Early Exits as one of the “Best Books for Business Owners of 2009″ http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

ORIC_Kelowna 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Congrats, Basil RT @basilpeters Inc. Magazine selects Early Exits as one of “Best Books for Business Owners of 2009″ http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

basilpeters 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter (One more retweet from EarlyExits)
Inc. Magazine selects Early Exits as one of the “Best Books for Business Owners of 2009″ http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

Pixelsteam 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Google likes pre-revenue acquisitions http://bit.ly/7vo1Mm

kevindewalt 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Google..prefers [to acquire] “pre-revenue” companies. http://bit.ly/8ahb1k (via @EarlyExits) But keep in mind they make money advertising

kevindewalt 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Google wants to do ever earlier exits than I wrote in.. Early Exits. prefer “pre-revenue” companies. http://bit.ly/8ahb1k (via @EarlyExits)

EarlyExits 1 year ago (as of 2011-08-30)
from twitter
Google wants to do ever earlier exits than I wrote about in my book Early Exits. They prefer “pre-revenue” companies. http://bit.ly/8ahb1k

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