I get asked this question many times in many different ways. Sometimes people are coy about it (“someone is expressing strategic interest – what should I do?”) other times people are clear and direct (“someone wants to acquire my company – help!”).
David Cohen, the CEO of TechStars, has encountered this many times. Before starting TechStars, he was an entrepreneur who sold his company to a public company after running it with a partner for a decade. He then started a few more companies, including one that failed and one that was acquired. Finally, he started TechStars and of the 28 companies from the first three programs (there have now been 126 companies that have gone through the program to date) 8 have been acquired. He’s also invested in a number of companies as an angel investor and I know of at least a half dozen that have been acquired.
He’s got awesome advice in a blog post titled You have acquisition interest – now what? His 10 step process is:
- Assess the acquirer
- Notify the board
- Set your number
- Engage the acquirer
- Ask for the ballpark offer
- Identify mentors
- Assess the ballpark offer
- Get to know them and answer their questions.
- Push for a term sheet
Go read the post now. It’s excellent and I plan to refer people to it often whenever this question comes up.