Learning from The Experts Part I: M&A Strategy Tips from Google, Intuit, RingCentral and Civic Technologies
Leading corporate acquirers and serial entrepreneurs from Google, Intuit, RingCentral and Civic Technologies share M&A best practices.
28 July 2016
Recently, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion at the Rosewood Sand Hill, one of Silicon Valley’s top scenic spots, to talk with leading corporate acquirers and serial entrepreneurs from Google, Intuit, RingCentral and Civic Technologies about how corporate acquirers and serial entrepreneurs interact in a deal process, namely “The Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur: What Makes a Deal Successful?” Last year, our panel discussion focus was about best practices in M&A, brought to us by panelists from Google, Yahoo, Visa and Cisco.
Representing the corporate acquirers on our panel were Dave Sobota, Director of Corporate Development at Google, and Kevin Jacques, Vice President of Corporate Development at Intuit. From the serial entrepreneur side, we welcomed Kira Makagon, Executive Vice President of Innovation at RingCentral and Vinny Lingham, Co-Founder and CEO at Civic Technologies.
Here are some of the key highlights and takeaways from the panel.
“It is always better to be courted than to court.” Life Lesson vs. Business Lesson?
(I will leave it to you to decide if this is a life lesson or merely a lesson in business.) When I asked the serial entrepreneurs, Lingham and Makagon, about the moment they decided to sell their respective companies, their feedback was clear. A true entrepreneur, despite always thinking big, never starts their company with the end-goal of being acquired. If and when the time comes to search for potential acquirers, your network is your main asset. It’s crucial to maintain relationships with strategic partners — far and wide, big and small — to ensure one has mutual familiarity when the next step is upon you.
Both Intuit and Google have dedicated teams of scouting professionals whose mission is to identify and interact with budding startups globally. Jacques explained that at Intuit, they developed a program that allows young companies to cultivate a relationship with Intuit.
Startups: Do your homework
When a startup looking to be acquired scores a meeting with the likes of Intuit or Google, the corporate acquirers’ advice was simple: do your homework. Jacques explained that he can tell within the first few minutes of a meeting whether or not a company has done any background research. The goal is to present yourself in light of the serial acquirers’ strategy. Here are three questions to consider:
- How would your company fit?
- Is being acquired really the best option?
- Is a partnership the best first step?
Large corporations like Intuit and Google run a myriad of partnership programs that often catalyze the path to acquisition.
Lastly, make sure your numbers line up. Be prepared to go through the details and explain how each component of your business fits together. Lingham emphasized the need to have "all your documentation in good order,” right from the start of the company, so that when the time comes to share, you can do so with confidence. Makagon added, “From day one, run your business as if you are going to get audited. Track every cent and document everything. That way, when you are ready to be acquired, the gross part of the work is already done.”
Stay tuned to our blog for part two which will include more tips from our panel discussion. In the meantime, check out these 'Art of the Deal' M&A insights.
As Intralinks’ senior director of strategy and product marketing, Matt Wells is a key member focused on the development and go-to-market strategy for Intralinks’ M&A business which includes our virtual data room and deal lifecycle solutions. Matt joined Intralinks in 2012 upon the acquisition of PE-Nexus, a company he co-founded in 2010 that pioneered the concept of online deal sourcing and buyer identification. Before PE-Nexus, he was a vice president at Cross Keys Capital, a boutique advisory firm, where he focused on middle-market M&A transactions.