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CoffeeDregs 626 days ago | link | parent

> I think his issue was that the meeting was in bad faith.

Agreed, but an honest question [and I'm no fan of FB, but...]: how could FB have requested a meeting without acting in bad faith and without being dumb? Seems dumb for FB to say to Dalton: hey, we're about to launch a competitive product and, since you're going to be squashed, we wanted you to come in to talk about an aqui-hire. Now Dalton has inside-ish info on FB (which he will have post meeting anyways) and can run around telling FB's competitors that FB is bidding for his company.

I suppose one of the VPs could have pinged Dalton about meeting for coffee, but then, assuming the informal meeting goes well, Dalton still has to meet all the other VPs, Dirs. Plus FB has a lot of these conversations with companies (I've been in 3 separate ones with 2 companies), so this is kind of the process.

I don't particularly see a better way for FB to handle the situation. Were I Dalton, I would have given myself some cool-down-room and, rather than blowing off the discussion, would have engaged the folks in a discussion and then told everyone that I'd get back to them first thing in the morning. Then I would have gone for a long run and let my thoughts settle. Or at last that's what I did when this happened to me 4 years ago.



385668 626 days ago | link

They can tell him that they're interested in an aqui-hire before hand. That's how they can act in good faith. If he shows, he gets the info they gave him at the meeting anyway. If he doesn't, they crush him, which they plan to do now, after the meeting they had in bad faith.

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freehunter 626 days ago | link

What else would the meeting be for? He's incredibly naive if he honestly thought that the meeting was going to be them congratulating him for making a good product and nothing more.

I was hoping the outcome of this meeting would be executive-level support for my impending product launch.

What executive-level support would they give him except to buy him/his product? The bad faith here is going into this meeting with no intention of entertaining their obvious position.

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rhizome 626 days ago | link

It's not OK to take advantage of a naive person. They could simply have explained their position in a way more appropriate for the kind of meeting they had portrayed.

If Facebook wanted an acqui-hire from this meeting here, they sold it awfully poorly. They don't have to care, of course, they'll likely just look elsewhere and scoop up 5 people to do the same thing, but from a business perspective this meeting would have seemed to be a waste of time for all concerned. Again, FB has the cash so who cares, but to drag people in with the hope that they'll forget themselves and jump at whatever opportunity is presented. They're taking time and attention away from the thing that attracted them to this person.

Heck, that they kind of throw offers around like this is kind of a lesson for future targets simply to triple their ask. "Sure, $50MM all cash." Screw those jerks.

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CoffeeDregs 626 days ago | link

>It's not OK to take advantage of a naive person.

Let's not insult Dalton. Let's assume Dalton is a smart guy and not a naive guy, but that he's in an unfamiliar situation and that THIS SHIT IS HARD. It's easy to sit on the sidelines and judge. It's quite another thing to figure out what to do when: you're a VP at FB who wants to talk with Dalton about an aqui-hire (seriously, how do you do this?); and when you're Dalton and you receive an email from said VP asking for an audience [what kind of audience?!?! who knows.].

>They could simply have explained their position in a way more >appropriate for the kind of meeting they had portrayed.

My original comment suggested that they couldn't. You haven't provided any evidence to the contrary (in fact, you've suggested my "dumb" route without saying why it's not dumb). Let's assume everyone is a decent person [AFAICT this is a reasonable assumption]: this is not a soap opera; this is trying to figure out how to have a tense conversation with someone you respect.

>Heck, that they kind of throw offers around like this is >kind of a lesson for future targets simply to triple their ask. >"Sure, $50MM all cash." Screw those jerks.

This is a very dangerous comment. Of course, there are anecdotes to the contrary, but, by and large, few think the way you suggest they do and I'd warn fellow readers to take this as an anti-pattern. Those playing the game who get to the aqui-hire level are very high performers, not sell-outs. To suggest that the aqui-hirers are fools from whom to part money or that aqui-hires are sell-outs is to demonstrate extreme naivete. Google's top line really can benefit by adding high performance teams and Google is willing to pay for it. This is rational. At the same time, an acquired CEO, such as Kevin Systrom, can be happy that his biggest, in fact existential, competitor is now his partner. This, too, is rational.

Above all, this stuff is both hard and subjective. Let's look at how to use it to be more effective, rather than how to tabloid-ize it.

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rhizome 626 days ago | link

I should have said "a person's naivete" to emphasize its situational nature. Everybody is naive in unfamiliar situations, by definition, and I didn't mean to imply that he was a naive person through-and-through. I would venture that assuming I was pinning my support on an insult is not a particularly charitable interpretation.

I don't have to provide evidence of an opinion, so I don't know where you're pulling that from.

My original comment suggested that they couldn't.

Which was: how could FB have requested a meeting without acting in bad faith and without being dumb?

Really? First of all that appears to be a false dichotomy. Secondly, they have a lot of brains at FB, yet idiocy and bad faith were the only two possible motivators for the meeting? They can figure it out, and if they can't, well, maybe they take the more-informative route.

Dumb, right?

Saying you are at a disadvantage for having everybody on the same page and not being oppositional or predatory is a sign of a bad mind to me. Can't tell him in advance that it's really about acqui-hire? Pretty much the same kind of arbitrary rule as "don't call her for three days." If you want to go through life accomplishing your goals in an antagonistic way, then follow their examples, but engaging in business this way in terms of romantic relationships is "The Rules" type poppycock. I'm not even going to address your assertion and denigration of decency and information as "soap opera."

Oh, but they "couldn't." How powerless FB is in this situation! How ever did they find themselves so?

this is trying to figure out how to have a tense conversation with someone you respect

Isn't that tension entirely related to preserving the hustle? Let's all shed a tear for the difficulties FB has in maintaining a powerful negotiating position.

Thing is, in this case I would say that what you identify as "tension" is a reflection of their powerlessness. Obviously they wanted him on board rather than building it themselves with other people, by sheer dint of coming to him before what other people wind up being their follow-on choices. So the hustle was functional in that they just decided to wield the bat of money that apparently is all they have to offer when manners fail them. Of course Mark Zuckerberg is known to be a rude person, so we can also see this episode as evidence (as you so require) of the fish rotting from the head.

To suggest that the aqui-hirers are fools from whom to part money or that aqui-hires are sell-outs is to demonstrate extreme naivete

Hey, all I'm saying is that if you're open to selling in the first place and FB comes sniffing around, ask for more than you would normally when being ambushed in a meeting. And yes, it's foolish to treat someone you want to work with in the way that they did here. Perhaps their negotiator end-points aren't as highly-performing as you say the acqui-hire targets are.

But I appreciate your point: decency is too much to ask of Facebook.

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CoffeeDregs 626 days ago | link

>They can tell him that they're interested in an aqui-hire before hand.

I thought that I covered this in my comment under the "dumb" option. I don't mean to be disparaging, but I'm not sure how else to take the suggestion, so switching to a not-great analogy:

Your suggestion is sorta like saying that people should walk into a car dealership and say "I want to buy this car. No, not that one. THIS car." It's a classic negotiating fail. If you know they're going to buy the car/company, you're going to milk them.

Of course, FB may think that THIS car/startup is absolutely perfect to acquire, but it's unrealistic to expect them to reveal that bit of info.

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rhizome 626 days ago | link

And if they won't sell it to you, you walk away. Classic negotiating success, which is what Caldwell did here.

It just so happens that what FB were selling was a position of some repute within their organization, which they not only failed to do, but they misrepresented the product in the first place.

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