15 Surprising Tech Mergers That Could Have Happened But Didn't (Infographic)
Gregory Alan Bolcer stashed this in Acks
Isn't this why it's important to have a good board of directors?
Yes, and timing seems to be everything. There seems to be two paths. Companies that refuse very legit offers and go on to be bigger with the support of their board and funders and companies that refuse and go on to obscurity.
Timing does seem to be everything. Is timing a function of luck or is luck a function of timing?
If you could figure out which is which, I'm sure you'd be a billionaire!
Timing is important but I think the bigger issue is whether the founders are growing into bigger responsibilities or not. A lot of times an acquisition makes sense if the company is at an inflection point and the founders aren't that excited by or capable of making that transition. A good example of that type is Tumblr, where the founder pretty obviously wasn't thrilled about money-grubbing. I personally think that if the founder isn't wholeheartedly into the transition it is likely to turn out badly, so it's better for all parties to just take a reasonable offer and move on.
Things seem to get awkward really fast when the founder WANTS to make the transition but a good board doesn't think they can. I don't think founders necessarily have the most realistic insight into their own capabilities or situation, and the more successful they are the more I think they tend to err on the side of overoptimism. On the other hand, if this person owns a ton of the company and you might have to work with them for years... I can imagine it's hard to tell them they aren't growing the way the company needs them to. One sign I've noticed that marks the difference: whether founders can move aside their old buddies if the company needs higher-powered help in a particular area.
Of course I worked for a company that's on this list, which might color my thoughts :)