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Ask HN: Anyone been acquired by Google who can talk about it?
114 points by chuhnk on Oct 29, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments
Has anyone here been acquired by google who can talk about their experiences after it was all said and done?

I am curious and I'm sure a lot of others are as to the experiences to a company merging into google's current work force vs joining as a single employee.

This is worth reading: "The Google Black Hole (Sergey and Larry just bought my company. Uh oh.)": http://www.slate.com/id/2197434/

Details about the Dodgeball's teams experiences: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10143824-36.html

And from the Dodgeball folks themselves (but not too many details): http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpstyles/460987802/

More from Techcrunch: http://gigaom.com/2007/04/15/dodgeball-founder-quits-google/

The really amazing part about the Dodgeball story is that after leaving Google, the ex-Dodgeball team went on to found Foursquare.

I was part of the Jaiku team acquired in 2007 by Google.

What do you want to know? Of course, I can't go to details of the acquisition or work we did inside Google.

Looking back, do you feel that selling to Google was a positive decision for Jaiku?

Note: I wasn't a founder, but one of the two first employees and a minor shareholder. Internally, we called ourselves as a founding team as when we joined, things really started to happen. Founders weren't devs themselves.

Given that we had worked on Jaiku just a bit over a year before the acquisition, getting acquired by Google was a very pleasant surprise.

We were a talent acquisition like the most Google acquisitions are. Acquired communities are rather tiny for Google and if there is important server-side technology it usually has to be rewritten anyway for Google infra.

The toughest part was that we had to let go of the Jaiku service and eventually the community as we couldn't develop Jaiku full-time anymore.

Although we were behind e.g. Twitter (we started before them) and Facebook (we had the stream of posts before them) in users, our core users really really loved Jaiku. It was the first web page they visited every day and many still think that Jaiku's model was superior to both Twitter and Facebook.

This is the key: in talent acquisitions, it's probably best idea to communicate that the service will be shut down eventually. This way the community doesn't have false hopes. If it turns out that you can continue to put enough effort to existing service, the old community will likely come back.

Feel free to ask more. I can try to write a few key points to remember when you get acquired by a large tech company, but I need to code a bit first ;-)

At jaiku I'm sure you had a lot of input in the direction of the product and control over the technology. Moving into google I assume you had to give up a lot of that. Was it worth it? Is there anything you miss from the jaiku days?

As a founder it makes a ton of sense to sell early. Cashing out for $2M (or whatever) for 18 months work is hard to say no to. For an employee with <5% equity though it can't be all that great. If the decision was yours alone and you were acting in a purely financially self-interested way what would you have done?

For an employee with <5% equity though it can't be all that great

But since this thread is about acquisition by Google, don't forget that many of those employees that drew <5% now work for Google. Some continued working on the acquired product, and some might be reassigned to an existing or new project. It seems to me that isn't a particularly bad situation for an equity employee.

Did they come after you or did you approach/pitch first?

They approached us.

You might (also) have some luck asking this question on quora.com.

Read about the experiences of Dodgeball founders, Dennis Crowley, of Foursquare fame to get the not so good side of the experience.

The lesson I took from this is that it's very important to be clear about whether it's a talent acquisition or a product acquisition.

I'd be interested in hear stories about getting acquired by any large tech company.

"Getting acquired by Google" is almost a dead metaphor in 2010. I don't know if it's to be taken literally anymore, but Google are probably most known for acquiring software companies.

What other big software company acquirers are there? (Not to be imply that there aren't any.)

Google is still the goto name for tech acquisitions. Heck they have acquired 10 companies in the last 4 months alone.

"but Google are probably most known for acquiring software companies. What other big software company acquirers are there? (Not to be imply that there aren't any.)"

"Google is still the goto name for tech acquisitions. Heck they have acquired 10 companies in the last 4 months alone."

You are both saying the exact same thing. Which is bizarre, because it sounds like you're in disagreement... But you're not.

The actual sentences say exactly the same thing ("Google is currently the biggest technology acquirer, by far").

You conveniently left out the part where he called it an "almost" dead metaphor, which it isn't as evidence of their recent acquisition activity. That's what I was addressing.

That is just over 9.11 billion in acquisitions based on the listed numbers in that table alone.

That is one hell of a lot of money spent to acquire companies.

I wonder what the most spent by a single co in M&A would be?

Cisco is a likely candidate in the tech world. If you think $9.11 billion is a lot you need to remember that Yahoo spent $5.7 billion to buy a domain name (broadcast.com).

Cisco is particularly interesting because most Cisco acquisitions are of companies founded by or early-staffed-by former Cisco people -- an exec or top techie leaves to start a company (perhaps built around a tech explored while at Cisco), and if it's successful, Cisco buys the company and gets the team back.

Cisco shareholders have explained that this effectively amounts to $50-500mm bonuses for people who would otherwise have remained employees, and the whole structure is self-reinforcing.

Remember the failed Yahoo acquisition by Microsoft in 2008?

I wonder if anyone who has ever been acquired has felt mistreated in a possible effort to get them to leave and forgo shares before they vested, and what they have done about it, if so?

How much does Google pay for a talent acquisition?

(while acquirees can't disclose figures, can someone give an idea?)

I've heard $500k to $2m per tech employee is fairly "normal" if it is just a talent acquisition. Based on what one person told me drunk at a bar. Take it with some salt.

$1.5 million, according to Steve Newcomb (co-founder of Powerset):

"At that time we knew that a talented engineer in a tough to get tech was worth about $1.5 million per head. Thus, I knew with relative assurance that since we were going to hire at least 70 people with our Series A money, that our worst case scenario was about a $100 million exit.

If anyone is paying attention, you are now saying, wait a minute! Didn't Powerset sell for $100 million to MSFT? .... Yup, we nailed our worse case scenario!" (from http://blognewcomb.squarespace.com/essays/2010/10/14/cult-cr...)

This is a timely article: Google's AdMob, YouTube Chiefs Step Down


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