Follow-up On “Sell Your Startup in Public”

Got a lot of reactions to my last post about acquihires (specifically, lack of them) and how that might change the approach startups take to pursuing ‘soft landings.’ Wanted to clarify and respond to some of those questions, backchannels, etc.

  • It’s often ok to just shutdown. I wasn’t suggesting that every founder/team/investors would prefer an acquihire to other forms of wind down, and definitely not that founders always “owe” their investors this attempt. If anything I was trying to emphasize to founders that it’s ok to try a different process, often against the common wisdom.
  • To founders (some in our portfolio) who assumed I was specifically subtweeting them. Nope. Of course the suggestion was spurred on by what I’m observing in the market – including a lot of stories from founders we haven’t backed – but I was commenting on the market at large.
  • I don’t want to fund an acquihire marketplace. If you want to build a marketplace for small acquihire transactions go right ahead but my post wasn’t a Request for Startup 🙂
  • Some people disagreed with me! “Nah, you give up all leverage when you do what you recommended,” was the feedback from a few readers. My POV is that it’s more nuanced than this. You have no leverage – or at best fake leverage aka bluffing – when you don’t have alternatives. Go have some private conversations, float some trial balloons, etc. But I truly believe the strategy I detailed is UNDERUSED in our industry.
  • Makes the Founder Seem Like a Loser? No way. I think it’s artful and thoughtful when done correctly. All of this is changing IMO – analogous might be layoff lists these days – no shame in being included in one when you know you did the best you could but the company had to make cuts. Obviously more falls on the CEO/founder shoulders but again, I think my strategy is going to be self-selecting for the type of leaders who authentically can articulate the situation and has some value to transact.

Appreciate the discussion – it’s why I enjoy blogging 🙂