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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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Taylor Barada

Yahoo
Senior Director, Corporate Development
June 2009 – Present Strategic analysis/execution of acquisitions, divestitures, investments and other strategic relationships

List of Taylor'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: Ours is a little broader [than Facebook’s] in that the company for many years has had two sides to the business. The hardcore technology side with labs and the scientists and all that. We absolutely want a core of the same thing that Mike just talked about in regards to those rock star talents that are incredibly passionate about what they are doing on the technology side. The other side is the online media side of the business, and frankly a lot of that has creative business leaders too. We look for both those things. In terms of the cultural fit, I think it was one of the chief justices 30 or 40 years ago that was commenting on a case on pornography that said I know it when I see it. I think on cultural fit, that’s ultimately a lot of what it is. You work together on deals and you know when it’s fit and when it’s a stretch. I think Yahoo has a lot of creative, smart people who don’t take themselves too seriously and like to be nice to each other. It’s a very collaborative culture. As far as “
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: The first question is what’s your definition of an international startup? Dapper was founded in Israel, has a core engineering site there and also has an office right down the block from here. Ultimately it’s an American company at this point and most of their business was there. We essentially viewed that as a global product acquisition and it was run out of here. For a company whose go-to-market business is in an international market, that would be handled by one of our colleagues oversees. The main difference on those deals is that the hit rate is typically lower and the cycle is a little bit longer. The markets are more immature on some levels and things tend to take longer. So the two things I’d say are the conversations take longer and the actual close ratio from starting of conversations might be lower.
Q: What about divestitures…how often do you shed assets? check all answers
A: We continually talk about it and think about it. When you’ve grown as we have over 15 years with the Internet, you’re constantly trying new things and going different directions. We’re trying to be very careful and thinking about almost on an annual basis. In regards to how we go about it, we typically first asses whether we think it’s something that’s fine to maintain even if it’s just not the core focus moving forward. Is it serving a community of users we want to allow to continue but we don’t want to invest in the future or is it a business that runs the risk of becoming what we call a vampire site that is just out there but it’s not really there? In that case, it should either be shut down, or if there is a better home for it, you figure out can you extricate it from the technology stack and actually have something which is saleable. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. If there is something that’s saleable, we try to get an idea of what’s there and what would work for us and
Q: Who has to sign off on a deal? check all answers
A: If there’s a deal of a certain size, as a public company, there are authority matrices and what not. Some deals have to be officially approved by the board. Frankly, it’s our job to manage the process to whatever timeline of the business constraints that we have to get a deal done. As Amin said, that’s not something that slows things down. When you put a term sheet out, there’s essentially a business sign off with some sort executive committee. There’s usually business leader with who we’ve partnered to make sure we understand what it is that we’re doing and we go through that. It’s pretty transparent and we try to make sure that we manage the process in a way that we don’t get surprised and the seller doesn’t get surprised either.
Q: Would it help an international start-up if they have their core team in another country but a business development Team in the US? Does it help the process to have some presence here? check all answers
A: I think the theme you’ve heard throughout is that every deal is different. The real answer is what’s right for your business? If it’s right for your business, it’s going to create value in the market and it’s going to get people like us interested.
Q: How common is it to see team coming in from an acquisition working on something similar and integrating that product into your core business versus shutting it down and shipping it off? check all answers
A: For us, the bias is more towards tech and talent. More than likely we want to make use of the technology and the product in some form or fashion. If there were other plans, the CEO would absolutely know it. That would be part of our dialog. You have to be transparent about those things because as you said, they matter.


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