Pricey SaaStr: Why Do Many Startup CEOs Give up After Their Firms Are Acquired?

Pricey SaaStr: Why Do Many Startup CEOs Give up After Their Firms Are Acquired?

5 causes:

  • First, it’s very troublesome for many founder-CEOs to work for somebody else. They typically don’t thoughts working with others. They don’t even have to be “the boss”. However being instructed what to do, particularly when it’s not clearly “proper”? Robust. The one actual reply right here is to let the founder-CEO form of run issues AND …
  • Economically, most acquirers get issues incorrect. And in all equity, it’s laborious to get issues 100% proper. There must be at the least a half-decent financial incentive to remain. When my firms had been acquired, I had no financial incentive to remain, not likely. So ultimately, I did my absolute best, however … I didn’t keep all that lengthy for zero incremental {dollars}. The stability right here is tremendous difficult, however it’s important to at the least strive. And it could actually’t be 100% punitive. Clawbacks, revesting, and so forth. make some sense. However there must be a carrot with a stick. Founders hate a carrot-stick imbalance, even when they do keep. They are going to hate the corporate instantly thereafter. There must be real, materials upside.
  • It’s laborious, however not unimaginable, to work below another person’s home guidelines. Even if you’re left alone, and have some financial incentive to remain, it may be laborious to be instructed it’s important to completely change the way in which you do some issues. Most founders have hacked issues, for a very long time. These hacks reduce corners, and are quirky, and are nonstandard. However they work. Now having to run each launch by means of a 20-person committee? Having to make use of their gross sales group for future growth, that additionally sells 4 different merchandise? That may be powerful.
  • Even when it’s good, true creators typically wish to construct one other one once more. And sometimes, proper now. I left my first startup after 20 days, post-acquisition. That was sufficient. However I’d have stayed 3+ years in the second.
  • Simply plain want a break. Acquirers typically miss this. It’s laborious to construct an organization from filth, from nothing. Particularly if the sale is round 5 years or so, that’s when everybody will get drained. Typically, all the flowery titles and retention packages gained’t remedy being drained. Acquirers ought to acknowledge this and switch the CEOs into 50%-time consultants and “non-executive chairpeople” of their startups, till the assistance isn’t wanted anymore. Some acquirers do that properly. Many don’t.

However. I believe if acquirers get it proper, most CEOs will keep 2–3 years. After which, typically, longer, in the event that they actually can nonetheless do one thing wonderful (and profitable) after that. That ought to be the purpose. 2+.  Perhaps Extra.

And eventually, right here’s my recommendation to virtually all founders and execs post-acquisiton: chill a invoice. And play one other card.  Only one extra card, to see the way it goes.  Keep 6 months longer than you’ve deliberate.  You’ll be taught new issues, if nothing else.

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