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It does not really matter if you are using hard data like number of previous companies, or soft data like impressions based on personality. In fact, these days I would say success depends more on the VC(s) involved than the founders. Mark Cuban was at least half-right when he compared tech investments to a Ponzi scheme (http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2011/08/15/mark-cuban-th...).

This is, obviously, a generalization -- there are a few companies that stand on their own feet, and have even done so without outside investment. But in the majority of cases it seems like startups are acquired because some kind of "inside" deal is going on. When you think about it, most companies rarely benefit from acquisitions and mergers - instead they slowly die. To list a few: AOL, Bebo, Myspace, Flip, Map Quest, Alta Vista, Netscape, Broadcast.com, Excite, Lycos, Ask Jeeves, Sun Microsystems...

What startups are still going strong post-acquisition? I can think of Youtube off the top of my head...what else? If the parent companies are (generally) not benefiting from acquisitions, why are they happening?

Reddit? Whatever became Google maps? Hotmail? Android?

There are plenty of startups which have thrived after acquisition. There are also spectacular failures. M&A is risky, but can have a very high payoff.

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