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On December 9th, Venture Archetypes and Greenberg Traurig pulled together a panel of some of the top entrepreneurs and most active acquirers in Silicon Valley to answer your questions about start-up M&A. So whether you’d like to know what the serious players are looking for or how to position your start-up for a healthy acquisition, you’ll find the wisdom right here!. Read the rules.
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How many deals do you expect to do in 2011? What types of deals are they? Also, who else is going to be a very active acquirer in 2011 beyond you guys? Is Apple going to pick it up? Is Amazon? eBay?
Elad Gil
Twitter (sold Mixer Labs)
Director
Actually, I have no idea how many companies Twitter is going to buy since I'm not involved with that area at all. But to answer the other part of your question, two companies that I personally am guessing will become very inquisitive next year are Salesforce…I think there's a fundamental shift in their strategy and they're going to buy a whole bunch of stuff. And I actually think there's a whole wave of innovation in ecommerce. And so my prediction would be Amazon and potentially Gilt...and I think Groupon will continue to sort of plow through companies.
Amin Zoufonoun
Google
Director, Corporate Development
I would also add that it just doesn't necessarily work that way when we set out to do X number of deals. They're very opportunistic and based on if it falls into those various reasons why we do deals. Given that we're probably the king of the wacky companies, sorry to dethrone you, Mike. We have crazy cars that drive around that you've seen or heard about, and we're in mobile and social and email and communication and search. Personally, I can't speak for Google. I don't necessarily always find the information I need on Google.com, so I think even search is in the 2nd or 3rd inning. Advertising is still evolving, mobile's evolving, cloud computing's evolving. We tend to be in all these areas, including robotics and green tech and all kinds of other things. So, I think we're going to be busy as our CEO's implied.
Taylor Barada
Yahoo
Senior Director, Corporate Development
Well, as a public company, I'll leave the prognosticating on the number of deals to Tim and Carol. But the short answer is, we are going to do as many as make sense that we can get done. There’s no quota. We're trying to find things that will help our business and our business leadership, that will grow the business faster, and that are new and interesting that we couldn't do on our own. And so we want to do as many of those as we possibly can. We want to do deals that put us in a better spot in 2012 than we are here leading into 2011. In terms of where we're focused, we've continued to focus on what Carol ended up calling the four Os [which confused us at first]: mobile, local, social and video. Basically, I think those are major horizontal themes that the Internet is dealing with, and Yahoo, being a big cross section of the Internet, is absolutely dealing with that. We continue to see a bunch of innovations in ad tech and we believe that we have something of a lead and an advantage there, and we want to make sure that we continue to move as fast as the industry is going. Something that came out of the Dapper deal that we just did a few months ago is those guys started out on a content play and ended morphing into being able to ingest content from websites and target ads in a dynamic fashion. I think that's interesting and unique because when we stepped back and looked at it, we realized that in many ways the ad part of the world has gotten more personalized than the content experience part of the world, and I think things that Facebook and others are doing are fascinating in terms of curating content. Twitter's doing it as well with your social network and I think clearly, in the future, just like ads are targeted algorithmically and based on what we know about you, I think that is another interesting area that we're watching -- how to make the Web more personally relevant to you.
Michael Brown
Facebook
Manager, Corporate Development
Maybe 15 acquisitions. They will be a mix of talent acquisitions, where we're looking for people to run important parts of our product who have a really strong vision. I'll give you some examples. Maybe it's social commerce, maybe it's HTML5 stuff that we're interested in for mobile. Maybe it's around local, so that when someone walks into a store we can identify that they are there without any hardware, so it's a software-based system to either check someone in if they're using Facebook Places, or you can send them a coupon, or a deal, or something. So those are a couple of examples. If you can see where we are innovating as a company, those are probably the areas where we're likely to acquire because we're hungry for new ideas and leadership. As for who else will get involved, we're on a mission and we're just so focused on what we're doing and we have so many ideas and so much yet to do, that’s all we're thinking about. There is a saying in the company: We're 1% finished. And I really believe that because there's so much of the Facebook story which is still to be written, right? Our business model isn't totally clear. What verticals we are going into, if any, isn't clear; what our platform becomes isn't clear. So it's a really wacky and fascinating place to be because there's so much that we don't know yet and so we're just focused on that. And we wish all the other companies all the best.


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