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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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Amin Zoufonoun

Director, Corporate Development
Google, Inc. 2003 — Present. Mergers & Acquisitions and Investments.

List of Amin 's answers

Q: What would be your pitch to describe your culture and what kind of person or company might be a fit? check all answers
A: I think we’ve become a little less homogeneous than we used to be. Like you [Yahoo] we have so many different teams doing different things…so within Google there are nuances in terms of the culture. I can’t tell a startup here for Google as a whole what kind of culture, but I think you could probably guess what they are: smart, passionate. If I was advising a startup here, I’d say focus on your business, hire the best people – hire people who know how to code, know how to work together as a team, and who know how to adapt because it’s moving so fast. Even if you come to Google, things are going to change and move fast and to be able to adapt and move in new directions I think is an important skill to have.
Q: How is the approach used to acquire an international start-up different from the approach taken with a domestic company? check all answers
A: We tend to look for the same things that we would here. We would structure our diligence pretty much the same and try to find out the same things with respect to fit – but we have to make modifications. For example, I did a deal in Sweden and it was amazing to me that at the 11th hour, what became the critical issue is how much vacation we give. Since they are in Northern Sweden next to the arctic, sunlight is very valuable so for them to get that time off during summer was absolutely critical. Or labor laws in France – so you have to modify things a little bit.
Q: Who has to sign off on a deal? check all answers
A: Once we have a enough information that we’ve assed that fit and we want to go forward, we move pretty fast. Like most companies, there’s an executive committee that needs to sign off, obviously corporate development, but we move pretty fast. That part is not a bottleneck.
Q: Is there such a thing as a deal too small to be worth your while? check all answers
A: If you ask me, the ones which pop into my mind are relatively small deals which have huge impact. Examples are Keyhole with satellite imagery that became Google Earth. Those were fantastic, impactful and relatively small. Urchant is another one. Android is another one. [Follow up question – So something like a five million dollar acquisition isn’t too small to be worth your time?] No.
Q: Regarding offers, how do you decide on cash versus Equity? What are the different considerations? check all answers
A: Part of the decision for us is the cost of each from our side and what you’re looking for. Obviously we’re a cash rich company so cash is relatively cheap for us versus diluting our stock more. I think for Facebook it would be the opposite…maybe not.

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