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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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Give us an overview of the M&A process at your company. What happens when you are acquiring a start up, what teams are involved, how long does it take? How does it work at your company?
Elad Gil
Twitter (sold Mixer Labs)
Director
[Question: Representing the founder under M&A since your company was acquired, how does Corp. Dev. work at Twitter?] Twitter has made a number of acquisitions and there was a Corp. Dev. team. Jessica Verrilli works on it and it's under Kevin Thau, who runs Corp Dev and B.D. And there have been a number of acquisitions. I think very early on in Twitter's history, they bought Summize, which was a search engine then. That was when Twitter was about 15 people. And so as a small company they have evolved and it was a pretty large proportion of the company and culture. We were the first acquisition since then, I believe, and they have made a number of other ones including Tweetie, Dabble DB and a few others.
Amin Zoufonoun
Google
Director, Corporate Development
So the process is not standard by any means. I would say that depends on the particular start-up, why we're looking at it and who is looking at it within Google. So the average time we quote is a couple of months, or a month. It could be a month. Actually, the bigger deals tend to go much quicker and smaller deals tend to take longer and we can talk about why that is. Generally, we get to know the team, we get to know the technology, we get to know whatever we can before we go to our executives and seek approval for the deal and get consensus from the various teams. And then what happens is, you as a start up would see a much bigger team of professionals than I think most people expect. It includes my team, which leads an integration team, a finance team, a legal team, HR for getting people offers and getting them Google badges and to conduct due diligence and get the deal through. So that's a typical process for the most part.
Taylor Barada
Yahoo
Senior Director, Corporate Development
For us it's similar. We are very focused on cultural fit and alignment of vision. I think Yahoo over the last 15 years or so has developed its own culture and sense of what it's trying to do. And at times we've muddled our external articulation of that, but I think internally, it matters that people want to be there and that they think they can do more together with us than just going off and seeing it as an exit and a check. So I think very early on we're trying to get a feel for if we have a shared vision.
Michael Brown
Facebook
Manager, Corporate Development
Some US President once said that plans are meaningless or useless. Planning is everything. And so for us, the people who build the products are probably more important than the products themselves. And so our diligence is really going to focus on the small number of people who brought that product to life to make sure that we're excited about them. And that they have good technical jobs and lot of vision. And so, I would kind of double undermine the valuation of the small people in your company as being the most important step in that process. Then after that it's very smooth.


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