Acquihires – A Clarification

I was misquoted by Silicon Alley Insider yesterday. They corrected it. The original headline was disgusting, and antithetical to what I said and what we believe. I was embarrassed to have my name near it. I thought their correction was the end of it. But there are still old versions being syndicated through other channels so I want to clarify what I said.

I spoke at the Lerer Summit a few days ago to a group of their portfolio founders and friends. I gave a 10 minute snapshot of what was on founders’ minds in Silicon Valley. When I spoke, a reporter misread my slide and ran a story based on that error. The slide read (in part):

Acquihire != Signing Bonus

She missed the exclamation point. (‘!=’ means ‘not equal’ in computer science jargon.).

We’re seeing a lot of founders reach the inflection point of raising more $$ or doing an ‘acquihire’. My main point was that this was a special time for this type of transaction. Fast-growing companies like Dropbox, Twitter, and Fab have done these types of deals in addition to Facebook, Google and others. It’s a unique opportunity to be an early member of a team that has a huge impact on the world. By definition, they will be early and fast-growing only once. If you wait a few years, and the same company is interested, the money may be the same but the opportunity most likely will not.

And if “maximizing impact” is why you started your company, doing the acquihire can be the most leveraged way to do that. Don’t just view it as a ‘signing bonus.’ Think about what happens after the deal closes, not what happens on the closing date.[FN]

I can’t unring this bell. No one will read this post compared to the people who read the original headline. I’m probably being overly sensitive (and narcissistic) in thinking that anyone even read it or gives a shit. But I just wanted to set the record straight.

[FN] If you are the Nth engineer at BigCo, then maybe a different analysis.