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Big Picture Deal: Stephen Venuto on the Facebook Instagram acquisition


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Venuto had 27 guests at his house on Easter Sunday as he finished work on the deal from his home office.

Ross Todd describes the frenzy behind Facebook buying Instagram:

Venuto scoured the venture deal to make sure that it couldn't trip up the Facebook proposal. Large investors often get veto rights over future deals: "A mistake in a start-up that in any other company would be insignificant can kill a company," he says. Then came a frenzied weekend of dealmaking. The deal was signed on Easter Sunday — less than 55 hours after Systrom and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg began negotiating on Good Friday. The speed of execution "wasn't because everybody just rolled [over], and it wasn't because it was just cookie-cutter," Venuto says. "It was because we just hyperactively did this thing, and [the team] accordioned out instantaneously."

Venuto estimates that about 40 Orrick lawyers worked on the deal at some point. (Fenwick provided deal counsel to Facebook, and Covington & Burling advised on antitrust issues.) After getting clearance from both the FTC and the California Department of Corporations, the deal closed in early September.

 Venuto "is an outstanding lawyer, but he's also an outstanding business partner," VC Cohler says. He "is someone who cares about everybody [who's] involved in a company."

Instagram had 13 employees when Facebook bought it.

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