Without a doubt, big companies want great talent to work on their projects — while a lot of the great programmers out there want to develop their own projects and startups. That situation has lead a lot of business to buy startups with the idea of bringing in the talent behind a given project even more than getting their hands on the project itself. One of the more recent examples is Salesforce.com’s purchase of Thinkfuse — the Thinkfuse service will actually be shut down later this month when the team behind it is brought on board Salesforce’s own development team.
But is this the outcome you have in mind for your own projects? Is your goal to be bought up so that you can go work on something entirely different? Here are five questions worth considering before you work towards that type of exit strategy:
- How important is it to you to lead the project? In any acquisition, you’ll probably wind up further down the food chain than you were at your own startup — but if you’re acqui-hired, your startup experience may not even get you a managerial position.
- What does the payday really look like? When other companies are essentially treating your new business as a job application, you’re not going to get as big of a buyout than if they value the work you’ve done. That can be a big problem. Dealing with investors can be bad enough, but having your work flushed with minimal returns for your time is truly rough.
- How does the rest of your team feel? When an acqui-hire is on the table, odds are good the offer comes from a company that wants your whole team — not just one or two people. You need your whole team to be ready to jump in the same direction.
- Will your project be interesting to big companies in a position to acquire you? Acquisition is one of the key options for an exit strategy. If that’s your hope — whether or not you want a job offer with your buyout package — you need to think about who would be interested. And if an acqui-hire is your end goal, you need to make sure that your target company has an interest in what you’re working on.
- Do you need to minimize your risk? One of the benefits of employment is facing a little less risk than operating on your own. If your circumstances change after founding a company, being acqui-hired can be an easy out.
For some people, being acqui-hired is a good exit. For others, it’s an option that just doesn’t make sense. It’s better to figure out which category you fall into when you’re first starting up, so you know exactly what you’re working towards.
Image by Flickr user Marc van der Chijs