Summary: Acquired goes behind the scenes of the best (and worst) acquisitions and IPOs of all time. From the Instagram A+'s to the AOL-Time Warner fails, what can we learn from their journeys and apply to our own organizations and careers in business and in tech?
Acquired returns with a classic, delving into Microsoft’s first acquisition ever: Forethought Inc, the makers of PowerPoint. Hate it or love it, you can’t deny the combined companies’ impact: by the early 90’s PowerPoint had transformed the way businesses, educators and governments communicate, ensuring job security for pointy-haired Dilbert bosses everywhere.
Acquired wraps up a big few weeks of coverage with not an IPO or an M&A or a fundraising round, but what’s still the largest tech exit in recent memory: Spotify’s $30B direct public listing. We dive into what it all means and how we got here: from Napster to iTunes to Facebook (and even some Justin Timberlake thrown in for good measure). Acquired FM is on the scene and spinning all the hits from this new wave music industry titan!
Acquired is live on the scene following Dropbox’s public market debut. From playing a central role in the early days of Y Combinator, to having Steve Jobs famously label the company a “feature not a product”, to pivoting from consumers to enterprise to developers and back again, the silicon valley history runs deep with this one. What twists and turns lie ahead for Dropbox as a public company? We speculate!
Acquired dives into the topic on the minds and lips of just about every VC and founder these days: SoftBank’s $93B+ Vision Fund, and its seemingly-overnight rewriting of the rules of venture capital and startup fundraising. Where did this new 800lbs gorilla come from, what are its goals, and what does it mean for the future of silicon valley and the global tech ecosystem? The answer, it turns out, starts with an acquisition, and unfolds into a story no one has yet told and few yet understand. Luckily our heroes are on the case!
Acquired brings it all back home—to the smart home that is—with Google’s 2014 acquisition of Nest for $3.2B. From Nest cofounder Tony Fadell’s first job at General Magic (alongside future Android founder Andy Rubin) to his days as “father of the iPod” under Steve Jobs at Apple, the Silicon Valley history runs deep with this one. But did that make the acquisition a good move for Google in the coming battle with Amazon’s “Lady A” for control over consumers’ homes? We dive in!
We launch mini-series on Acquired with a subject near & dear to our heroes’ hearts: startup fundraising! This has been one of our most-requested new topics, and we’re excited to kick things off with makers of the popular Rec Room social VR app, Against Gravity, which raised one of Seattle’s hottest venture rounds in recent history: a $4m seed led by Sequoia Capital in 2016. CEO Nick Fajt joins to tell the story from company inception to building and shipping the initial product, fundraising as a first-time CEO, what they’ve been able to accomplish with the capital and their vision for the future. We had a blast touching on many classic Acquired themes for the first time “in-action” with a young, growing company, and hope you all enjoy the discussion as much as we did. Let us know what you think in the Slack! Carve Outs: * Ben: Ready Player One * David: Seveneves * Nick: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this Acquired Season 2. You can get in touch with Gina Eiben, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Former Zappos Chairman & COO (and current Partner at Sequoia Capital) Alfred Lin joins our heroes to kick off Season 2 with a classic: Amazon’s 2009 acquisition of the internet’s quirkiest online retailer for $1.2B in stock. How did three Harvard undergrads go from delivering pizza to their dorm to delivering happiness to the world — and become in the process one of the few companies ever to compete successfully head-to-head against Amazon in commerce? Tune in to find out! Note: Unfortunately the quality of David and Alfred’s audio tracks in this episode were significantly impacted by a processor issue on David’s computer, which we didn’t discover until after recording. We’ve worked hard to fix in post-production, but it’s still far from perfect. Still, the content from Alfred is so good, we felt we had to put this episode out there even though the audio quality isn’t up to par. We hope you’ll give it a listen regardless, and we’re working on getting a transcript made ASAP as well. -Ben & David Carve Outs: * Ben: Andrew Mason on Recode Decode * David: Justin O’Beirne on Google Maps’ Moat * Alfred: Walter Isaacson’s biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Jason Day, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Join us on Tuesday, January 16th at 5:30 in San Francisco for the Acquired Listener Happy Hour! Find out more and RSVP here: http://bit.ly/acquiredhh
Acquired cozies up to the fire and looks back on the year in tech. How wildly off were we on last year’s predictions? What does the next year have in store? Most importantly, what price will Bitcoin be trading at in December 2018??? Pour yourself a glass of your favorite holiday beverage and kick back with us. SF Acquired Meetup! * Mark your calendars: we’ll be hosting an Acquired Meetup in SF the evening of January 18, 2018. More details coming soon—check Slack or Acquired.fm. Links * Josh Elman on shared experiences * Patrick McKenzie on distribution 2017 Carve Outs of the Year: * Books * His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman * Shoe Dog by Phil Knight * Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden and Steve Jamison * Articles * “The Great AI Awakening” New York Times Magazine * “Founder Friendly” AVC blog * Podcasts * “The Ezra Klein Show” featuring Yuval Noah Harari * “The Bill Simmons Show” featuring Jimmy Iovine * Music * Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band live at the Hammersmith Odeon London in 1975 * A Moment Apart by Odesza * Movies * Creed * Blade Runner 2049 * The Last Jedi * Apps * YouTube * HQ Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Jason Day, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Acquired crosses the half-century mark with an instant classic: Apple’s 2014 purchase of Beats, its largest acquisition ever. If you knew Beats as just another headphone company, think again—the history on this one will keep your heads ringin’. SF Acquired Meetup! * Mark your calendars: we’ll be hosting an Acquired Meetup in SF the evening of January 18, 2018. More details to come soon. Carve Outs: * Ben: HQ * David: Wooden on Leadership Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Nick Ferrer, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Ben and David dive into the most talked-about tech IPO of 4Q 2017: Stitch Fix. After downsizing the offering and pricing below the range, does this signal a warning that public markets won’t value high-flying silicon valley “disruptors” as high as VCs hope? Or is this a textbook example of a great return for a disciplined management team and well-run company? Most importantly, what happens next? Tune in for our heroes’ take. Carve Outs: * Ben: The iPhone X * David: Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Jason Day, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Ben & David cover the proposed largest tech M&A deal of all time, and in the process dive into the evolving dynamics of the industry that started everything in Silicon Valley—silicon. Just when VCs thought innovation was dead in semiconductors, a new wave of startups and large companies are redrawing the lines of competition in an industry dominated for a half-century by the “Wintel” duopoly of Intel and Microsoft. Topics Covered Include: * Innovation and disruption in the semiconductor industry over the past two years * Intel’s acquisition of Nervana * Graphcore and other ML-focused semiconductor startups * CDMA and the telephone network effect * Qualcomm’s early cell phone handsets * Vertical integration + commoditization in smartphone chipsets The Carve Out: * Ben: The de-watering of Niagara Falls * David: Big Daddy’s Antiques * Bonus: The Mystery Show Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Nick Ferrer, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Ben & David venture to the land down under (and reunite in-person!) to tell the story of the granddaddy of all bootstrapped tech success stories, collaboration software company Atlassian. How did two plucky college grads from Sydney, Australia go from just trying to escape working for the man to becoming two of the top 10 wealthiest people in the entire country, all without raising a dollar of venture capital? We dive in. Topics Covered Include: * How Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar met in college at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and their decision to bootstrap a startup as an alternative to finding a “real job” after graduation * Atlassian’s “no sales” model, and the resultant efficiency of their sales & marketing spend relative to other SAAS companies * Organic product growth and acquisitions over the years, starting with Jira and later adding Confluence, BitBucket, HipChat / Stride, Jira Service Desk and Trello * Rapid revenue growth and the decision to continue as a bootstrapped company, only raising secondary capital prior to going public * The IPO in November 2015 and subsequent stock performance (spoiler: it’s been good) The Carve Out: * Ben: Phil Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog * David: Bruce Springsteen memoir, Born to Run Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Jason Day, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Today our heroes cover a deal that might have more impact on life in Silicon Valley than AI, wearables and AR/VR combined… Nestle’s acquisition of Blue Bottle Coffee. Will hipster entrepreneurs and the VCs who love/need them continue to line up around the block for their minimalist coffee experience of choice, now that it’s owned by the Nesquik Bunny? Is this the beginning of Blue Bottle pod machines filling the empty counter space left by Juicero’s demise in VC offices throughout South Park? We investigate. Topics Covered Include: * The rise of “Third Wave” coffee * Blue Bottle founder James Freeman’s “classical” (music) influences * Venture capital and the coffee business * Achieving liquidity when companies and founders’ don’t want to go public, and don’t want to sell their stakes * Nestle’s position in single-serve coffee market and potential brand impact of Blue Bottle The Carve Out: * Ben: There Never Was a Real Tulip Fever * David: iPhone SE Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Jeff Beuche, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Acquired is back and live on the scene! After months of speculation, Google announces today their acquisition (err, "Cooperation Agreement”) of a large portion of HTC’s hardware division. What does this mean for the future of mobile? Can Google transform itself into a vertically integrated device company and compete directly with Apple? Most importantly, when will we see more Beats Android handsets??? (We hope never) Topics Covered Include: * The origins of HTC as a Taiwanese OEM, dating back to the Compaq iPAQ and Palm Treo 650! * HTC’s long history with Google, starting as the manufacturer of the first Android phone, the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1 * HTC’s ownership of Beats, for a hot minute * Google’s own winding history in hardware, with its Motorola acquisition in 2011 and divestiture in 2014 * Google & HTC’s joint work on the Pixel smartphones in 2016 * And much analysis and speculation on what this means for Google, Apple, Samsung, vertical vs horizontal business models and more! The Carve Out: * Ben: Odesza’s new album A Moment Apart * David: Bruce Springsteen on Fresh Air Sponsor: * Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Jeff Beuche, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.