Did you ever read Chaos Monkey? (https://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Monkeys-Obscene-Fortune-Failure...)
The author was a founder of a very little startup (3-men shop) and after 6 months tried to approach Facebook to be acquired, and Facebook told him: we don't want your technology, but since you have proven to be capable of building something exceptional, we want you to join (and you can throw away your product), and we'll offer you $2-3M (don't recall the exact number) in RSUs with a 4y vesting schedule, which he clearly accepted.
Now, those "acqui-hires" happen all the time among those big companies. Since the acquiring company is clearly not interested in the product but just in the talent, how is that different than getting in the door as a really solid individual contributor with terrific experience in getting stuff done (of course, your resume and interview skills need to reflect that, and also, probably even more importantly, your negotiation skills). You can choose to not believe me, but the answer is that there is no difference at all.
If you live in the valley, I can't believe you don't have an acquaintance who followed exactly the path of being individually "acqui-hired" as a talented individual contributor (but not being part of a real acquisition, mind you), which is exactly what happened to my two friends described above (no direct reports, purely technical gig). They are very very good in their fields and managed to sell themselves very well to the right teams inside those big companies.