The wait is over. Acquired returns with a very special Part II of the Sequoia Capital story, joined by the very best person in the world to help us tell it - Doug Leone. Doug is incredibly candid and insightful about all that has gone into building the modern Sequoia: from winning Google and missing Facebook, to the enormous (and enormously successful) bet on decentralized expansion in China and India, to the firm’s “proudest moment” at the depth of the dot com bust.
We kick off Season 6 with an Acquired Classic: Facebook’s $22B purchase of WhatsApp in 2014, which still ranks as the largest acquisition of a private VC-backed startup in history. Yet despite that enormous pricetag, as we sit here 5+ years later WhatsApp actually generates LESS revenue than the meager ~$20m it was bringing in at the time of acquisition. Was this this worst acquisition of all-time, or a brilliant strategic chess move by Mark Zuckerberg & co? Tune in as we render Acquired’s judgement!
Acquired closes out Season 5 and 2019 with a radical look into both the past and future decades of startup company building, investing and - yes, exiting - in conversation with legendary Lean Startup author and Long-Term Stock Exchange CEO Eric Ries.
Coming to you live from the University of Washington, Ben and David are joined by hundreds of awesome Seattle listeners (and a few non-Seattle listeners!) to cover the meteoric rise of trucking industry disruptor and hometown hero Convoy. How did Dan and Convoy go from nervously conducting market research at truck stops on I-5 to one of the largest logistics companies and fastest-growing startups in the world in just four short years, raising over $650m (not a typo) along the way? Tune in to find out!
We take Acquired to the Old Town Road to cover the amazing story behind the biggest global sensation of 2019 — and the highest valued private startup in the world — TikTok. How did a mid-30 year old UX architect at enterprise software giant SAP wind up creating Gen Z’s favorite social app that’s now rivaling Instagram in global MAU? And perhaps most importantly, why is TikTok such an important product & technology innovation that all of us should be learning from? Tune in for all the answers!
The Flywheel is strong with this one. We dive deep into the origins of one of the boldest business strategy decisions of our time: Disney CEO Bob Iger’s attempt to buck the Innovator’s Dilemma - and forego billions of dollars in cashflow from Netflix and pay TV providers - in order to establish a direct distribution relationship with its customers for the first time in the company’s history.
We're loading up the Acquired live experience and trucking north (for David at least) for our first independent live show in Seattle! Hot on the heels of the company's recent $400m fundraise at a $2.7B valuation, we'll be joined by Convoy CEO Dan Lewis to dive deep into the origins of this massive transportation logistics disruptor. Register to attend here: http://acquired.fm/liveshow Date: December 17th, 2019 Time: 5:00-8:00pm (subject to change) Location: TBD, Seattle Hope to see many of you there! -Ben & David
On this episode of the Limited Partner bonus show, we are joined by Chetan Puttagunta, General Partner on Benchmark, talking his investment philosophies, enterprise technology trends, and the uniqueness of Benchmark.
This episode is a preview of the hour-long LP-only show.
You’ve seen the news. We give WeWork the full Acquired treatment in all its tragic glory, joined by very special guest Dan Primack of Axios. Where did it all go wrong? Why is SoftBank buying 80% of the company? Where does “We” go from here? Tune in.
We’re joined by the legendary Nolan Bushnell, founder not only of Atari, but also the only person ever to hire Steve Jobs, the recipient of Sequoia Capital’s first-ever investment, and the creator of Chuck E. Cheese, the canonical GPS navigation arrow, and a little project that would go on to become Pixar. We cover it all in this special episode!
Acquired dives into the history behind storied venture firm Sequoia Capital and its legendary founder, Don Valentine. Part 1 tells Don’s story, starting from humble beginnings born to uneducated parents in Yonkers, NY, through shaping the fabric of Silicon Valley first as head of Sales & Marketing at both Fairchild and National Semiconductor, and then for generations to come via his pioneering concept of “company building” at Sequoia Capital.
Special announcement: we're hosting a San Francisco meetup! It's been too long and and we can't wait to see many of you. It will be Wednesday, September 25 2019, exact time and location TBD but likely starting at 6pm. You can register at https://www.acquired.fm/meetup
The event is free, but space will be limited so please only register if you know you can make it.
Hope to see many of you there!
-Ben and David
Ben and David cover the series of three 2004 Google acquisitions that formed the core of the Google Maps we know and love today: Where 2 Technologies, Keyhole and ZipDash. From nearly zero adoption between the three companies at the time of acquisition to well over 1 billion users today, does Google Maps merit admission to the hallowed Acquired A+ pantheon? Tune in to find out!
We’re joined by former Caviar executive Nick Adler for a quick-take on the big news last week in the battle for US food delivery supremacy, DoorDash’s acquisition of Caviar (which was previously owned by Square). With Uber and Lyft newly public and transportation relatively settled (for the moment), the front lines of the global startup capital wars appear to be shifting to this massive and fast-growing industry.
Ben and David head north of the border to Ottawa, Canada to cover perhaps one of the greatest IPO success stories of the past 5 years, Shopify. From humble beginnings as a “lifestyle business” hawking hipster snowboard gear online to now routinely mentioned in the same breath as Amazon, the tale of Shopify and its incredible CEO Tobi Lütke’s ascent is not one to miss!
From backwater PBX importer to world’s 2nd largest smartphone producer + 5G leader, Huawei’s spectacular ascent is rivaled only by its spectacular recent events. What’s the story behind this telecom giant, and what does its future portend for global tech? We dive in.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an... enterprise software company? We give the full Acquired treatment to newly-public Slack, one of the most extreme and successful pivots of all-time. From a log cabin in Canada to a never-ending game and back again, Slack’s journey has more twists and turns than a Hobbit’s tale. Tune in for one APLUSS story you don’t want to miss!
Zoom board member (and general partner at Emergence Capital) Santi Subotovsky joins us to tell the true underdog story behind the hottest IPO of 2019. Together we trace founder Eric Yuan’s incredible journey from immigrant software developer, who didn't speak any English upon arriving in Silicon Valley in 1997, to Glassdoor’s #1 rated CEO in America in 2018.
Acquired looks back at a monumental IPO from a *much* different era: Electronic Arts. We’re joined by EA’s founder Trip Hawkins to tell the incredible story of how he built the company that made video games mainstream. From working for Steve Jobs as one of Apple Computer’s first employees to later completely changing the world of sports with John Madden Football, Trip always had a clear vision for what EA could become and what magic could happen at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts.
Welcome to the big one. On the day of its IPO, we tell the story of Uber. It’s a story whose roots stretch back 130 years, but whose impact reverberates perhaps more powerfully on our current world than any other. A story that, in all of its greatness and in all of its ugliness, may just be the story of our time.
In the second episode of our APLUSS(Z!) IPO saga, we dive into the history behind the planet’s largest non-social social network, Pinterest. From The Pirates of Silicon Valley to the bloggers of Salt Lake City, the creation story behind this “productivity tool for planning your dreams” is far from your typical unicorn journey.
Hey Acquired listeners, our latest LP guest conversation was so good, we wanted to share some of it with everyone. We dove deep into the gritty details of SaaS investing and company building with the best in the business, Jake Saper from Emergence Capital. Emergence has been around since the beginning of SaaS and — uniquely for a venture firm — is entirely focused on early-stage investing within it. They were early investors in major successes like Salesforce, Veeva, SuccessFactors, Box and Yammer, and more recently Gusto, Zoom and many more. This episode is a must-listen for anyone investing in, operating in or thinking about modern SaaS companies! If you liked this conversation and want to hear more, you can join the Acquired Limited Partner program at https://glow.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) You can also sign up for Emergence's regular email newsletter on SaaS topics at: eepurl.com/c1IPvf
We enter the wayback machine and revisit the subject of Acquired’s second ever episode, Facebook’s bombshell 2012 acquisition of Instagram — this time with the help of then-Facebook executive Emily White, who moved over post-acquisition to become Instagram’s first business head. Is this still Acquired’s canonical A+ with an extra 3.5 years of hindsight? Spoiler alert: yes.
We continue to experiment on Acquired, this time with a quick-take on Spotify’s bombshell dual-acquisition of Anchor and Gimlet Media. While we may give these deals the full Acquired treatment in the future, we wanted to share our quick thoughts with you all sooner rather than later while the Acquired research department (aka Ben & David’s free time) works through the current episode backlog. Let us know if you like this format and we’ll do more in the future!
We dive into the crazy, little-known story of how this small, former PC-maker in Cambridge, England dethroned Intel, saved Apple from bankruptcy, became the blueprint for the largest investment fund in history, and of course now powers just about every device you use today. From Issac Newton to the Apple Newton, the Vision Fund and beyond, ARM has had an impact on the technology industry that cannot be overstated!
Booyah! Acquired, the worldwide leader in acquisitions and IPOs, kicks off Season 4 with a classic: ESPN. How did a failed former TV weatherman end up building the world’s most valuable media company on top of a dump (quite literally) in Bristol, Connecticut? We follow the incredible entrepreneurial journey from Getty Oil diversification strategy to Berkshire Hathaway home run to Disney crown jewel. This Is Awesome, Baby!!
Get ready for Acquired Season 4: the Attack of the IPOs! We'll be live on the scene this season as some of the tech world's biggest unicorns make their long-awaited public debuts (or at least we all hope). We get in the spirit for the coming season, and share our 2019 predictions in an excerpt from our last Limited Partner episode of 2018. Happy New Year to all!
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile)
We close out Season 3 and our China mini-series with a monster episode on Tencent, the Shenzhen-based social networking and entertainment powerhouse. We dive deep into the story of Pony Ma and his cofounders’ incredible journey from making software for pagers(!) to QQ, WeChat, League of Legends, Fortnite, Snapchat and even Tesla. This is one finale you don’t want to miss!
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! (works best on mobile)
We often get asked, “what type of content is on the LP Bonus Shows?” Well, never fear! We’re releasing one of our LP shows publicly for everyone to listen to.
On this episode, we dive into the most elusive aspect of early-stage investing and company building: finding product-market fit.
We’ll be back next week with our regularly scheduled programming: the Season 3 finale on Tencent!
We complete our two-part Netflix special with the company’s bold transition to streaming, including of course the most (in)famous spin-out in business history. Rising from the ashes of Qwikster, we chronicle Netflix’s rebirth as a media company and long journey back to the top of the FAANG mountaintop!
In a world ravaged by late fees and lack of rewinding, one man two men from a sleepy California beach town make a stand against tyranny, daringly dethrone an evil empire and… oh who are we kidding, they just copied Amazon’s business plan for books and applied it to movie rentals. Part 1 covers Netflix’s original DVD rental business from founding to 2009, and next time on Part 2 we’ll cover the (rocky) transition to streaming from 2010 to present. Buckle up for a wild ride!
Ben & David are joined by special guest and Venmo cofounder Andrew Kortina for our first-ever SF live show! In front of a packed house we chronicle the journey of how two freshman-year roommates from Penn turned a healthy obsession with Craigslist and a fake podcast into an app that facilitated $17B of payments last quarter alone, producing not one but two landmark acquisitions along the way!
Join Ben and David for Acquired's first-ever SF live show! We'll be covering Venmo's acquisition by Braintree (and then PayPal), with special guest Andrew Kortina, co-founder of Venmo. We can’t wait to see many of you there!
When: Wednesday October 24, 2018
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT
Where: SVB @ WeWork Golden Gate
25 Taylor Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Ben and David are joined by Adobe’s Chief Product Officer, Behance founder, Benchmark partner, author, and product luminary, Scott Belsky, to tell the story of Adobe Systems’ 2012 acquisition of Behance. We dive into the role it played in of one of the greatest (and least well-known) pivots of all time: Adobe’s transition from packaged software to services, which over the past 6 years has generated an astounding $100B+ in market cap and nearly 10x growth in Adobe’s share price!
We continue our China Tech series with perhaps the most incredible entrepreneurial journey in history: Alibaba and its indefatigable founder, Jack Ma. How did an unknown 30 year-old English teacher from a second tier Chinese city build the world’s 7th largest company by market cap (and the largest in China) in just 20 short years? This is one story you don’t want to miss.
In this special episode Ben & David head to Recode’s SF office and sit down in the red chair with the one & only Kara Swisher! Kara tells the story of Recode, from the beginnings of her partnership with Walt Mossberg to starting Recode and ultimately being acquired by Vox Media in 2015. Kara is someone we’ve long looked up to at Acquired, and it was really special to have her join us on the show. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did!
Ben and David are (almost) live on the scene covering the plucky Southern California “camera company”… uh wait, wrong episode… we mean *speaker* company’s IPO! Continuing the long Acquired tradition of analyzing companies at the intersection of music, tech and business, we discuss the past, present and future of Sonos in world where speakers actually now… speak!
Acquired kicks off Season 3 with a gangbuster two-hour extravaganza on America’s most successful automotive startup since The Ford Motor Company: Tesla. We cover everything, from founding to its 2010 IPO to all that’s happened since, including the question on the minds of superhero fans everywhere: who came first, Elon Musk or Tony Stark? (Spoiler: Elon)
Acquired wraps up Season 2 with our first “elusive” private-private merger: Rover.com and its 2017 combination with rival pet care marketplace DogVacay. We’re joined by Rover CEO Aaron Easterly to dive into the full history of how the crazy idea of “Airbnb for dogs” not only became a billion-dollar company, but also brought our heroes together for the first time and led to the founding of Acquired!
We’re live on the scene the day following the biggest announcement in the open source software world since well, open source software: Microsoft acquiring GitHub for $7.5B in stock. How did we get here? What does it mean for software developers going forward? And most importantly, why is there a creepy half-cat / half-octopus plastered all over everything? As always, Acquired has the answers.
If you thought the telecom business was boring, think again! Acquired brings you an episode packed with more drama than an entire season of Game of Thrones. Starting with a death in the family, we follow a tale of fortunes lost and rebuilt, bitter battles between rivals who once worked for each other, and at the center of it all, a lesson in the power of stable cashflow businesses. This is one call you don’t want to drop!
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: SoftBank’s $93B+ Vision Fund, and its seemingly-overnight rewriting of the rules of venture capital and startup fundraising. The saga 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 hearts: startup fundraising! Against Gravity CEO Nick Fajt tells the story of raising their $4m seed led by Sequoia Capital in 2016. We had a blast touching on many classic Acquired themes for the first time “in-action” with a young, growing company, and hope you enjoy the discussion as much as we did. Let us know what you think!
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!
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) On this extra-long episode of Acquired, Brian McCullough from the Internet History Podcast returns to discuss perhaps the most (in)famous merger of all time: AOL - Time Warner. Who doesn’t remember the soothing sounds of 56k modems and the timeless phrase, “You’ve Got Mail”? Join us all as we unpack how one of the biggest ISP’s of the 90’s tried to take over the world… and fell far short. Topics Covered Include: AOL’s status in the 90’s / early 00’s Explaining just what it is that AOL did at the height of their popularity How AOL pioneered a number of internet paradigms AOL’s persistent money troubles and bailouts from other companies Steve Case foreseeing the coming era of broadband, inspiring AOL to pursue working with a cable company Ebay vs. Time Warner in a down-to-the-wire war for a merger with AOL Why the money dried up for AOL after their merger with Time Warner AOL and its value in the post-Time-Warner era Speculating about what would have happened had AOL and others stayed independent businesses And much discussion on how to grade this one… The Carve Out: Ben: Give and Take by Adam Grant David: Season of the Witch by David Talbot Brian: A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Rob Goodman 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.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Unicorns and ratchets and lawsuits, oh my! Our heroes dive into the history of Jack Dorsey’s famous “other” company, Square. Was the Square IPO a canary in the coal mine signaling doom & gloom for the so-called unicorn companies of the early 2010’s, or a mispriced and misunderstood diamond in the rough? Acquired weighs in. Topics Covered Include: Square’s deep origins in the early 90’s in St. Louis, MO with the initial meeting of its co-founders, Jack Dorsey & Jim McKelvey McKelvey’s side glass blowing business and the “inspiration” for Square that came much later in the late 2000’s The complicated involvement of Washington University (in St. Louis) professor Robert Morley, who had worked for years developing payment card reading technology The company’s early meeting with Scott Forstall at Apple, and its “significant” impact on the its name and design The real disruptive innovation of Square and its business model (hint: not just building a mobile card reader) Square’s massive payments deal with Starbucks in 2012 and its impact on the company The evolution of Square’s business from a simple card reader to cloud-based Point of Sale (PoS) system and entire suite of merchant tools & business management services The drama leading up to Square’s IPO (including at Jack Dorsey’s “other” company, Twitter), dynamics and narratives affecting its pricing, the effect of IPO “ratchets”, and the company’s performance over the ~2 years since The Carve Out: David: Bob Iger on Nick Bilton’s Inside the Hive podcast Ben: The World After Capital on GitBooks Sponsor: Thanks to Perkins Coie, Counsel to Great Companies, for sponsoring this podcast. You can get in touch with Buddy Arnheim, who you heard at the beginning of this podcast, here.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Acquired dives into the legendary acquisition of Ben Horowitz & Marc Andreessen’s “second act” software company Opsware, from a perspective never before heard—HP’s side of the story! Our heroes are joined by Michel Feaster, who led both the acquisition for HP and then the Opsware product as part of the integrated company afterward under Ben Horowitz. Today the tables have turned: Michel is the Co-Founder and CEO of Seattle-based startup Usermind, and Ben Horowitz sits on her board on behalf of A16Z. This episode is not one to miss! Topics covered include: Opsware’s early history and origins as Loudcloud, the “second act” of internet wunderkind Marc Andreessen and Netscape product manager Ben Horowitz Ben’s first person telling of the Loudcloud/Opsware history in The Hard Thing about Hard Things, as well as the great Wired "period piece” covering Loudcloud’s launch in August 2000 The importance of timing, and Loudcloud’s too-early vision of—essentially—AWS before AWS (including eerie parallels between the metaphor Andreessen used to describe Loudcloud during the company’s first press briefing, and Jeff Bezos’s description of AWS at YC nearly a decade later) Creation of the “Opsware” tool inside of Loudcloud to automate deploying and configuring servers within Loudcloud’s data centers Loudcloud's meteoric rise, crash following the burst of the internet bubble, and hard pivot as a public company into Opsware—now an enterprise software company selling datacenter tools Michel’s role in HP’s evaluation of the company as an acquisition target, and process leading to its $1.6B acquisition in July 2007 Integration of the company into HP’s culture and sales channel The creation of Ben & Marc’s “third act”, the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, and what it’s like for Michel now having Ben as an investor on her board at Usermind The Carve Out: Ben: StarStaX star trail photography software David: Jimmy Iovine on the Bill Simmons Podcast
Acquired trains its lens on the “second or third best acquisition of all-time”, Priceline’s 2005 purchase of Booking.com. Our heroes are joined by friend-of-the-show and former Jetsetter & Room 77 CEO Drew Patterson to help understand how this little-known startup from The Netherlands grew into the largest travel company in the world, with nearly $8B in annual revenue. Was this deal even better than Instagram??? We debate, hotly.
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David cover the creation of the gaming world’s equivalent of the 70’s rock supergroup: the 2008 merger of Blizzard and Activision. We tell the story from the Blizzard perspective, tracing the history of one of the most innovative companies in the business from humble beginnings at the hands of UCLA undergrads, to surviving multiple acquisition rollups (including at one point being owned by the French national water company), to joining ultimately with Activision to form the largest gaming company in the world, all while inventing multiple game genres that define the industry as we know it today. Click here to take the 2017 Acquired Survey. It takes 5-10 minutes, and you may win a pair of AirPods (woo!) Topics covered include: Blizzard’s founding in 1991 as "Silicon & Synapse” by recent UCLA grads Allen Adham, Frank Pearce, and Mike Morhaime The team’s first projects making ports for other games, including Battle Chess on the Commodore 64 Early success on the Super Nintendo with Rock & Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings Origin of the Real-Time Strategy game genre (“RTS”) and Blizzard’s fist mega-hit, Warcraft Blizzard’s crazy corporate ownership changes over the years Development of further legendary game franchises like Diablo and Starcraft, along with sequels to Warcraft and the rise of the rise of player modding Emergence of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre (“MOBA”) from the Warcraft III modding community, and its growth into one of the biggest sectors in the games and esports industries today Blizzard’s role in developing the concept of online gaming, from early hacks to play against friends to World of Warcraft and Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (“MMORPG’s”) The 2008 merger with storied gaming company Activision Growth and success since the merger, including the launch of new game franchises Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch The Carve Out: Ben: Dick Costolo on Vanity Fair’s Inside the Hive podcast David: Nellie and Joe's 100% Natural Key Lime Juice (tip: buy in bulk from Walmart/Jet) Sponsor: Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for sponsoring this episode. If you'd like to learn more or start a banking relationship, you can get in touch with Shai Goldman here.
Ben and David are once again live on the scene, this time covering the biggest disruption in grocery since… well, sliced bread: Amazon’s $13.7B purchase of Whole Foods Market. We place this deal in context by diving deep into the long, intertwining history of grocery, tech and Amazon, from the infamous dotcom flameout Webvan (domain name now owned by Amazon) to its much more successful progeny Kiva Systems (acquired by Amazon in 2012) to current Silicon Valley unicorn Instacart (founded by former Amazon logistics engineer Apoorva Mehta). One thing is clear: for Amazon and Jeff Bezos, realizing the longterm vision of the Everything Store truly means building the everything store. Topics covered include: The origins of Whole Foods Market as “Saferway” in the late 70’s Austin, TX hippie scene, founded by CEO John Mackey (“the Steve Jobs of grocery stores”) and his then-girlfriend Renee Lawson Hardy Whole Foods’ expansion through acquisition throughout the 80’s and 90’s The company’s recent struggles with competition, leading to sales declines and attracting activist shareholder interest from Jana Partners Amazon’s acquisition of the company on June 16, 2017 for $13.7 billion, a 27 percent premium to the stock's previous day closing price In depth history and analysis of the four keys to understanding this deal: Webvan, Kiva Systems, AmazonFresh and Instacart Followups: Walmart/Jet buys Bonobos for $310M The Carve Out: Ben: Mark Zuckerberg’s 2005 CS50 guest lecture David: Exponent on Podcasting and Centralization Sponsor: Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for sponsoring this episode. If you'd like to learn more or start a banking relationship, you can get in touch with Dan Allred here.
Ben and David are guests on Anchor's Podcast of the Day, discussing Acquired's origin story, show structure, and how the show gets made. If you're new to the show and looking for a primer, this is a great place to jump in!
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David revisit the birth of the digital music revolution and Steve Jobs' "digital hub" strategy, with Apple's 2000 acquisition of the Mac music player SoundJam MP, which would go on to become iTunes. We relive the 90's with brushed metal interfaces, music visualizers and of course, software sold in (physical) boxes. Thanks to this episode's sponsor, Silicon Valley Bank. You can learn more about SVB, or reach out to Marshall Hawks directly (who's voice you'll recognize on the show) here: https://www.svb.com/profile/Marshall-Hawks/
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David continue Acquired’s “tech and sports” mini-series with Disney’s 2016 acquisition of a minority stake (with the right to purchase a majority stake at a later date) in BAMTech, the internet streaming company originally founded as part of Major League Baseball in the early 2000’s. However the importance of this story goes deeper than just sports, with major ramifications for nearly every major technology company from Amazon to YouTube. Even if you’re not not sure if baseball’s played on a diamond or a gridiron, tune in as we swing for the fences in predicting the future of TV! Topics covered include: What is BAMTech, and why is it, according to The Verge, "the future of television”? BAMTech’s origins as part of Major League Baseball's Advanced Media division ("MLBAM)”) MLBAM’s founding CEO Bob Bowman’s decidedly “non-tech” background, and growth into one of the most important tech leaders of the past 15 years Initial technology struggles and learnings from early streaming efforts (including a botched audio package of Ichiro Suzuki’s games with the Mariners for fans in Japan) Landing on a streaming model that works with the launch of MLB.tv in 2002/2003—three years before YouTube is founded! Improvement of the MLB.tv service and MLBAM’s streaming expertise over the next ten years through the rise of mobile, and simultaneous growth of MLBAM’s revenues to over $1B annually MLBAM’s initial deals to expand its streaming services beyond baseball, starting with ESPN in 2010, then WWE, the PGA, HBO and the NHL The importance of media rights, and MLBAM’s transition from a simple tech/infrastructure provider to a full-fledged media company The decision to initiate a spin-off process for BAMTech from MLB in August 2015, and Disney’s $1B investment into the newly created spin-out company in August 2016 Disney’s subsequent announcement that they’ll be working with BAMTech to create a direct-to-consumer ESPN streaming service BAMTech’s $300M deal with Riot Games in December 2016 for the media rights to League of Legends eSports content Bob Bowman’s announcement in February 2017 that he’ll be stepping back to from a day to day role, and hiring of former Amazon VP of Video Michael Paull as BAMTech’s new CEO Followups & Hot Takes: Facebook’s struggles with Instant Articles Microsoft killing Wunderlist (David is VERY sad) Instagram continues its torrid growth, passes 700M MAU Amazon’s new Look The Cloudera IPO Confirmation the ride sharing wars are far from over: Didi raises $5.5B in the largest private funding round ever The Carve Out: Ben: NYT’s 4th Down Bot David: Wait But Why on Elon Musk’s “Wizard Hat"
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) In honor of start of NBA playoffs, Ben & David venture off the beaten path to explore one of Steve Ballmer’s most famous acquisitions, his 2014 purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise. Was this landmark purchase a steal or a turnover for the former Microsoft CEO? We speculate wildly! Topics covered include: The Clippers’ founding in 1970 as the NBA expansion team the Buffalo Braves Early ownership changes and the move west to San Diego in 1981 Acquisition in 1981 by LA lawyer and real estate developer Donald Sterling for $12.5M Sterling's relocation of the Clippers to LA in 1984 against NBA rules Struggles over the next 25 years as the "worst franchise in professional sports” according to ESPN Turnaround beginning in early 2010s led by Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul The bombshell in April 2014, reported by TMZ, of a taped conversation between Sterling and his mistress where Sterling makes hugely offensive and racist comments, directed in particular toward former Lakers point guard Magic Johnson Fallout from the comments, resulting in a lifetime ban from NBA for Sterling, and a forced sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer for $2B Impact of the landmark sale price on NBA and other sports franchise valuations Clippers performance post-sale, and prospects for the future The opportunity for technology and business model innovation in the NBA, and professional sports in general Followups: Instagram Stories passes 200 million users per day (including correction on the definition of DAU) The Last Jedi trailer! Clarifying Starbucks’ same store sales performance post-IPO The Carve Out: Ben: Bill Gurley on This Week in Startups David: Pop, Race & the '60s podcast and Just Around Midnight by Jack Hamilton
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David transcend the barriers of “real” reality, and dive into Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s geek-eutpoia vision of the future of gaming, social, and maybe even the entire internet: strapping goofy-looking goggles to your face. Is VR for real this time or are we living through another Virtual Boy moment? Tune in to find out! Topics covered include: Oculus’s origins in 2010 as a twinkle in the eye of the then-17 year old VR wunderkind, Palmer Luckey, who started by prototyping VR headsets in his parents’ garage in Southern California Palmer’s time interning at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies, and chronicling of his own VR efforts in the Meant to be Seen 3D internet forums Legendary game developer John Carmack’s own interest in virtual reality, his intersection with Palmer on the MTBS3D forums, and how he acquired and popularized one of Palmer's first early prototypes of the Oculus Rift (which was literally held together with duct tape!) by demonstrating it onstage at E3 2012 How former Scaleform cofounders Brendan Iribe and Michael Antonov teamed up with Palmer after E3 to create the company Oculus VR The newly-formed Oculus’s wildly successful August 2012 Kickstarter campaign, including video endorsements from both Carmack and Valve founder Gabe Newell Oculus’s subsequent venture capital fundraisings, and catching the attention of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Facebook’s acquisition of the company in March 2014 for $2.3B The Zenimax lawsuit filed against Oculus and Facebook following the acquisition Valve (home of the most incredible company handbook of all-time) and Gabe Newell’s subsequent pivot from supporting Oculus to launching their own competing VR efforts with the Vive Team changes at Oculus post-acquisition Followups: SNAP: still a public company Hot Takes: Intel’s $15B acquisition of Mobileye (with reference to Ben Thompson’s analysis of the deal and Smiling Curves) The Carve Out: Ben: Kara Swisher interviews the Pod Save America team at SXSW David: Adam Gopnik asks Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History?
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David "pour over" the 1992 IPO of the legendary Seattle coffee company with the help of Dan Levitan, who served as lead investment banker on the IPO and who would later co-found the venture capital firm Maveron with Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz. Topics covered include: The original Starbucks’ founding as a coffee bean roaster, started by three disciples of the legendary coffee roaster Alfred Peet Howard Schultz’s introduction to Starbucks, his joining the team as director of marketing, and inspiration behind his “third place” coffee shop vision Howard’s departure from the original Starbucks, founding of Il Giornale, and subsequent of acquisition the Seattle Starbucks stores Starbucks’ incredible growth following the acquisition and expansion beyond Seattle The state of raising private capital in the 1980’s/90’s, and the decision to go public (link to the S-1) Howard’s ambitious goals for the roadshow and investor participation, and subsequent stock performance after the IPO The narrative and evolution of Starbucks as a technology company, or a consumer company that leverages technology very effectively The Carve Out: Ben: Dan Primack’s new daily newsletter, Pro Rata David: The Wizard and the Bruiser podcast Dan: The Man in the Glass
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Episode 33: Overture (with the Internet History Podcast!) Ben & David dive deep into the early days of internet search, with the help of the best in the internet history business: Brian McCullough from the Internet History Podcast! We are huge fans of IHP at Acquired, so this was a real treat to collaborate with Brian and the great work he does over there. In this episode we cover the story of how a small incubator in Southern California spawned perhaps the greatest tech business model of all-time, Yahoo!’s fumbling of that golden opportunity, and Google’s recovery of that fumble to cross into the end zone of tech history behind the biggest moat ever constructed on the internet. Topics covered include: Overture’s origins as part of the Idealab incubator run by famed early internet entrepreneur Bill Gross Invention of the paid search business model… initially by returning ADS ONLY in response to search queries The eventual marrying of Overture’s paid search (ads) with organic search results via syndication on other properties like Yahoo! Revenue from Overture’s ad partnership saving Yahoo!’s business after the internet bubble burst Yahoo!’s eventual acquisition of Overture for $1.4B in 2003 But… the really interesting story here: Overture’s 'inspiration' of Google’s business model and the creation of "the greatest advertising machine in the history of the world" The original (pre-Overture) Google business model: selling a box! Google’s differentiation vs Overture: focusing on the long tail, ad quality scores, and an advertiser-friendly auction structure Google’s first major search syndication victory over Overture: AOL Yahoo!’s failed attempt to buy Google for $3B in 2002, leading it to settle for acquiring Overture instead the following year “Project Panama” at Yahoo!, and its impact on the tech and internet history Overture's (and later Yahoo!’s) lawsuit against Google for stealing the paid search business model— "the O.G. version of Snapchat and Instagram” Paul Graham’s take on "What Happened to Yahoo?” Perhaps the most important technology to come out of this whole episode: Hadoop The power of incentive alignment in marketplaces— and creating the widest and deepest moats on the internet The Carve Out: Ben: The famous University of Washington's “Love Lab” Dr. John Gottman: “The Secret to Love is Just Kindness” David: Berlin Brian: The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Snap! Acquired is live on the scene reporting from the "Super Bowl" of 2017 tech events: Snap Inc's hugely anticipated (and just plain huge) IPO. What does the future hold for this plucky “camera company”? Will Snap's IPO endure as tech's most important picture-frame since the 2012 debut of Facebook, or is it destined to fade as just another snapshot? We debate! Topics covered include: Reference to our previous Acquired episode on Snap covering Facebook’s failed attempt to acquire the company in 2013, which goes deep on Snap’s origins and early history Snap’s busy years since: launching Discover, Lenses, Geofilters, new Chat, Memories, an ads API, acquiring Bitmoji, and, of course, debuting Spectacles The incredible document that is Snap's S-1 filing (read starting from the “BUSINESS” section on p.93) Snap Inc’s “unique” voting structure Evan Spiegel’s “CEO Award” bonus for successfully completing an IPO: an extra 3.0% of the company worth more than $600M Snap’s IPO pricing, first day of trading “pop”, and momentum carried into day two Introducing a new show section (for IPOs): Narratives! Snap is a “camera company" Snap's opportunity is winning television ad dollars Snap is a cult of the “product genius” Snap has a growth problem… and its name is Instagram (Stories) Snap has a cost problem: the (first?) gross margin negative IPO Wall Street to Evan: “we trust you… for now" Chris Sacca’s biggest email fail of 2012 …And of course all the classics from the Acquired canon: waves, moats, flywheels, network effects, starting small and more! The Carve Out: Ben: The Bill Simmons Podcast with Ben Thompson David: The Art of War, also Evan Spiegel’s Carve Out for 2013 :)
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Topics covered include: The global surge in 2012 of entrepreneurs starting ridesharing companies, nowhere moreso than China Didi CEO Cheng Wei and investor Wang Gang’s backgrounds at Alibaba, first entrepreneurial effort in Momo, and Momo’s pivot to Didi Dache The culling of the ridesharing herd in China down to Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache through brutal competition and involvement of the “big three” Chinese internet companies Rise of the Chinese messaging apps and associated mobile payments, and their impact on ridesharing The 2015 merger between Didi and Kuaidi, brokered in part by Russian VC Yuri Milner Uber’s decision to enter the Chinese market, and early success with investment and support from Baidu The first meeting between Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Cheng Wei in 2015—which does not go well Subsequent “scorched earth” competition between Didi and Uber throughout 2015-16 Negotiating an armistice: Uber’s agreement to sell its Chinese operations to Didi in late 2016 End of the war, or just the beginning? January 2017: Didi invests $100M in Brazilian Uber competitor 99 Sustainable growth, and building moats versus scorching earth Followups: Stay tuned for real-time coverage of the Snap IPO coming here on Acquired! The Carve Out: Ben: Taming the Mammoth on Wait But Why David: Conversations with Tyler Podcast by Tyler Cowen, co-author of the Marginal Revolution blog Brad: Yuval Noah Harari (author of Sapiens)’s new book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Topics covered include: P.A. Semi’s original moniker ("Palo Alto Semiconductor”) and its celebrity founder (in the semiconductor world) Dan Dobberpuhl History of the back and forth tradeoffs between Intel’s powerful x86 chips and low power alternatives like ARM processors Dobberpuhl’s technology breakthroughs throughout his career that enabled true low-power + high-performance chips The initial target markets for P.A. Semi’s chips (surprise: NOT mobile phones) P.A. Semi’s first foray into a potential deal with Apple, dashed by Cupertino’s surprise switch to Intel processors in 2005 The rise of mobile finally creating the huge market need for low-power / high-performance, Apple’s acquisition of P.A., and launch of the first Apple-designed chip, the “A4”, with the original iPad in 2010 Geekbench: the single-core performance of Apple’s latest generation of smartphone processors (A10 Fusion) has basically caught up with Intel’s laptop CPUs AuthenTec’s beginnings in the late 90’s as a spinoff from the defense contractor Harris Corporation (named by Wired Magazine as the #2 threat to internet privacy in the US), based in Melbourne, Florida Early versions of the technology that became TouchID, the sensors for which were many times larger than today’s iPhones themselves! AuthenTec “not very Apple-like” website on Archive.org (and screenshot) AuthenTec’s deal that almost was to put their technology and sensors into Samsung’s flagship phones Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec for $356 million in July 2012, and the rapid introduction of TouchID in the iPhone 5S one year later in September 2013 Followups: Merging of Alaska & Virgin America loyalty programs (woo!) Walmart announces major reorg following the Jet acquisition Snap Inc. IPO drama is mounting! (we can’t wait to cover this one) The Carve Out: Ben: Rands in Repose: The Situation David: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David wrap up 2016 with a review of the top tech themes we discussed on the show this year, and look forward to which themes we think will be relevant in the coming year. Can our hosts predict the future? Tune-in in 2018 to find out! Note: we apologize for the less-than-amazing audio quality on this one. We’re still working on tuning our remote recording setup! Topics covered include: Our top tech themes of 2016, including the first annual Acquired "Theme of the Year”: Aggregation Theory (surprise, surprise) Themes we think will be most relevant as we head into 2017 Extended Carve Outs! The Carve Out(s): Books: Ben: On Writing Well David: The Creative Habit and the Asimov Robot/Empire/Foundation series Article: Ben: Wait But Why: Religion for the Nonreligious David: The New York Times: The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S. Podcasts: Both: The Ezra Klein Show Music: Ben: Justin Bieber David: Stevie Nicks TV/Movies: Ben: Westworld David: Rouge One Apps: Ben: ReachNow David: Amazon Music
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David welcome very special guest Tom Alberg, board member and first lead investor in Amazon.com, to cover the IPO of "earth’s most customer-centric company". From longterm thinking to flywheels to riding big waves, this episode is chock full of lessons and stories from the journey of building one of tech’s most iconic franchises. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we did recording it! Topics covered include: Tom’s “prolific” bio from the Amazon S-1 Jeff Bezos’s journey from a Vice President at the New York hedge fund D. E. Shaw to founding Amazon in a Bellevue, WA garage in the summer of 1994 Jeff’s longterm thinking as evident in the early days of Amazon, and his approach that "failure is ok, but not trying things is not ok” Raising the seed money for Amazon before product launch, how Tom met Jeff and decided to invest despite the “high” valuation Tom's (and Jeff’s) focus on the power of targeting large and growing markets Amazon’s actual overnight success after launching the website: according to Tom at the time, "By the second or third week… It was clear there was a trend here.” How Amazon’s venture round, led by John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, came together in the spring of 1996 Amazon’s torrid growth through 1996, Jeff’s mantra of “get big fast” to win the land grab of online book selling, and the board’s decision to prepare for a public offering in the spring of 1997 How Frank Quattrone and Bill Gurley, then of Deutsche Bank, won the lead position for the Amazon IPO, beating out more storied firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Development of the flywheel concept within Amazon, as an outgrowth of maniacal focus on creating superior customer experience Amazon's public offering on May 15, 1997 at $18 per share (effectively $1.50 relative to today’s stock price after splits), raising $54M at a market capitalization of $438M — and subsequently trading down during the first few months following the IPO Amazon and Jeff’s management of investor perceptions of the company, and ability to sell the longterm vision over short term profits — “you get the investors you ask for” The creation of the first annual letter to Amazon shareholders included in the company’s 1997 annual report (and republished every year since), and then-CFO Joy Covey’s role and contributions to it Raising convertible debt just before the peak of the dotcom bubble and subsequent ability to survive the burst, and the impact of the downturn on Amazon culture The Carve Out: Ben: the band The Album Leaf David: Cormac McCarthy (author of All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, etc)’s contribution to W. Brian Arthur’s landmark paper about the economics of the internet, “Increasing Returns and the New World of Business” Tom: Michael Lewis’s latest book The Undoing Project, chronicling the Nobel Prize winning partnership between Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky in developing the field of behavioral economics
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Topics covered include: Brian’s history working across “both sides of the aisle” as both a startup founder and corporate development leader at a big company, how perspective from each informs the other, and the importance of learning “customer empathy” How Microsoft approaches M&A from an organizational perspective, and the importance of fit with the company’s product roadmap How Brian approaches strategic investments at Microsoft, and the evolution over time of the Microsoft (and large technology companies as a whole) perspective on investing in other companies Balancing the tension between partnering and investing, and what criteria Brian thinks about when evaluating companies Microsoft’s investment in Facebook in 2007 (at a then-crazy-seeming $15B valuation), and more recently Foursquare, Mesosphere, CloudFlare and others The current state of the tech M&A landscape, and the emergence of private equity as tech company acquirers Potentially changing corporate and foreign tax structures and how they impact acquirers’ thinking around deals (or not!) How Microsoft tracks and evaluates success of acquisitions over time, and lessons learned from successes and failures The increasing number of operating companies (technology and otherwise) looking to invest in startups, and how that landscape has evolved over time Followups: Snap Inc.’s rumored IPO filing — and bonus discussion of how VC’s and other investors think about “exiting” their investments in companies that have gone public Hot Takes: Amazon Go! The Carve Out: Ben: OK Go - The One Moment David: UC Berkeley Oral History with Sequoia Capital founder Don Valentine Brian: Om Malik’s recent piece in the New Yorker: Silicon Valley Has an Empathy Vacuum
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Topics covered include: Marvel’s corporate origins as "Timely Publications”, created in 1939 by pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman in NYC, with the publication of Marvel Comics #1 Creation of enduring characters such as Captain America, the Fantastic 4, Spider Man, The X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and more Adoption in 1961 of the "Marvel Comics” brand, and writer-editor Stan Lee’s transition of the company towards focusing on edgier characters and stories targeted at older audiences Marvel’s first sale in 1968 to the Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation (later Cadence Industries) The company’s “turbulent” corporate history through the 1980’s and associated mergers, acquisitions and lawsuits Marvel’s reinvention as a film-focused media company in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s with the launch of Marvel Studios Disney’s ultimate acquisition of the company for $4.2 billion in August 2009, during the depth of the great recession Marvel's—and in particular Marvel Studios’—performance since the acquisition Followups: People like Spectacles! Hot Takes: Shoutout to Hightower & VTS merging The Carve Out: Ben: Westworld David: Overdrive
Hey Acquired listeners. A note about this show: we recorded this episode the night before the 2016 Election Day in the US. At the time, the biggest change we saw coming was adding a new type of content to Acquired in analyzing IPO’s, which we introduce in this episode. Two days later, we woke up to a very different world than the one we were expecting. Reflecting on what’s happened, and the past few months of our show, we wanted to say two things: First, we want to apologize for our cavalier attitude toward this election cycle, and our glossing over the clearly very real problems and deep divide in America that it represented. In the Skype episode, David pretty glibly compared the AT&T - Time Warner merger to "Make America Great Again", arguing that any reactionary force is “on the wrong side of history” and cannot be relevant in a changing world. That was wrong, the sentiment behind it was wrong, and it was insensitive to the very real pain a lot of people are feeling out there on both sides. Second, looking back on this particular episode about the Facebook IPO, we think it actually might present a relevant parable for our country right now and--we hope--some important lessons for the technology industry going forward. For all the wonderful aspects of the tech industry that we celebrate on this show, there is no doubt that it also bears a great deal of responsibility for the current divide in America, and especially in its contribution to wealth inequality. Likewise, for all the wonderful aspects to the Facebook IPO story, as told in this episode, there is a very dark side as well: Facebook shareholders, investment banks and institutional investors raked in billions of dollars at the expense of individual retail investors who lost their shirts. At the same time, Facebook’s perseverance through their “broken IPO", and their determination in overcoming with incredible speed the massive, existential challenge to their business model posed by mobile, is something we think *can be* an inspiration to us all on how to move forward even when that seems hard. We hope you’ll listen to this episode with that in mind and think about how you, we, and the technology industry as a whole can do better in serving everyone in this country and in the world. Thanks for being on this journey with us. We’re sorry for our shortcomings, and we’re going to keep working hard to do better. -Ben & David Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Topics covered include: Introducing a new content vertical for Acquired: analyzing IPO’s! Facebook turning down early acquisition offers, including including the famous $1B overture from Yahoo in 2006 The Wikipedia entry on the Facebook IPO referencing it as a “cultural touchstone” Trading of pre-IPO Facebook stock on SecondMarket and SharesPost The infamous 2011 Facebook - Goldman Sachs deal attempting to circumvent then-active SEC regulations on number of permissible shareholders in a private company, and Goldman’s eventual loss of “lead left” status to Morgan Stanley for the ultimate Facebook IPO Facebook’s S-1 filing on February 1, 2012 The company’s "small problem" at the time (read: gaping chest wound) with mobile Acquiring Instagram for $1B while on file to go public in April 2012 Facebook’s $16B IPO finally taking place on Friday May 18, 2012, priced at $38 per share giving FB an initial market cap of $104B NASDAQ’s “technical glitch” (read: egregious f*&# up) preventing the stock from trading when it supposed to and resulting in $500M of investor losses Facebook’s stock tanking following a flat first day of trading, losing 25% of its value during the first month and over 50% 4 months later, leading some to label it “The Biggest IPO Flop Ever" Later revelations that Facebook had unprecedentedly lowered revenue guidance during its IPO roadshow due to continuing challenges with mobile, resulting in an information asymmetry between its underwriting investment banks and their institutional investor clients versus the investing public at large How, from the ashes of its “broken IPO”, Facebook amazingly rose to fix its mobile problem at lighting speed, going from mobile comprising zero percent of ad revenue to 23% in one quarter, and over 50% one year later Zuckerberg's belief that the difficult IPO process and "terrible first year” as a public company "made our company a lot stronger”… and silicon valley’s bizarre, antithetical and counter-productive take away to “stay private longer” Followups: The scoop on Microsoft’s use of foreign cash to buy Skype, thanks to longtime listener and friend Nick Seguin Hot Takes: Twitter shutting down (or selling?) Vine The Carve Out: Ben: Amazon employee #1 Shel Kaphan on the great Internet History Podcast David: Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) An acquisition so wild and crazy, they had to do it again. And again. Ben & David cover tech’s perhaps most-traded asset, Skype (which also happens to be a fantastic business). How do we even know which deal to grade? Tune in to find out… Topics covered include: Community spotlight: Slack community member Swyx’s financial data research startup Sentieo! Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis’s meeting in the 1990’s at Swedish telecom company Tele2 Zennström & Friis’s introduction to talented Estonian developers Jaan Tallinn, Ahti Heinla, and Priit Kasesalu as part of Tele2’s efforts to jump into the dot com “portal mania” Skype’s origins in the technology powering Zennström, Friis and the Estonians’ first startup endeavor together: the peer-to-peer file sharing platform Kazaa The “complicated” legal, technological and ownership situation for Kazaa and Skype Skype’s “unique” corporate culture, including a swimming pool in the board room and shots for initiating new employees The first Skype acquisition: eBay’s 2005 deal to acquire the company for $2.6B, just two years after launch Culture clash between eBay and Skype management, and further legal drama regarding Skype technology ownership post-acquisition The second Skype acquisition: eBay’s 2009 decision to spin the company out to a private investor consortium including Silver Lake and the newly-formed Andreessen Horowitz The third (and final?) Skype acquisition: Microsoft’s $8.5B purchase of the company in 2011 Skype as a “crossover” product with viable market opportunities both in consumer and enterprise Bill Gurley’s “Keys to the 10X Revenue Club” and the power of Skype’s organic customer acquisition model Followups: The Google iPhone… err, Pixel! Hot Takes: AT&T’s $85B mega-acquisition of Time Warner… making America great again, or rebuilding the T-1000? The New York Times acquiring The Wirecutter The Carve Out: Ben: Sam Altman’s Manifest Destiny David: SOMA the Musical starring our very own Acquired listener, the brilliant and talented Jake Saper!
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David broadcast live from the 2016 GeekWire Summit covering one of the all-time greats, Apple’s 1996 acquisition of NeXT. This episode has it all: the Steve Jobs hero story, Apple, I.M. Pei, Ross Perot, Aaron Sorkin, Nobel Laureates and… Gil Amelio? Does NeXT rank atop the best acquisitions ever? Our own heroes cast their votes. Topics covered include: 1980’s era Apple, entering the age of the “workstation”, with John Sculley as CEO and Steve Jobs leading the newly formed SuperMicro division working on building the “BigMac" Jobs’ exile to "Siberia”, and chance meeting with Nobel Laureate Paul Berg that sowed the seeds of NeXT Jobs’ resignation from Apple on September 13, 1985 to start NeXT, taking with him SuperMicro division employees Joanna Hoffman, Bud Tribble, George Crow, Rich Page, Susan Barnes, Susan Kare, and Dan'l Lewin Apple’s subsequent lawsuit against Jobs and, Steve’s classic quote in response: "It is hard to think that a $2 billion company with 4,300-plus people couldn't compete with six people in blue jeans." NeXT’s “anti lean startup” approach, spending $100k on brand identity and moving into I.M. Pei designed offices Ross Perot’s $20M investment in NeXT The first NeXT computer (fun unboxing video) product launch, dubbed "The NeXT Introduction” on October 12, 1988 (one of the three scenes in the Aaron Sorkin Steve Jobs movie) The NeXTSTEP operating system as the first “modern” OS (including Object-oriented programming), and like the Mac equally descended from Xerox PARC Major technologies developed on NeXT computers, including the first web browser and Doom NeXT’s exit from the hardware business and transition to a software-only model with OPENSTEP Apple’s failed internal projects to develop a modern OS, culminating in the acquisition of NeXT in December 1996 Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, public lack of faith in the then-current board and management, and maneuvering to return to the CEO role The transformation of NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP into OS X, and ultimately iOS, watchOS, tvOS, etc. The Carve Out: Ben: Stewart Butterfield (Cofounder/CEO of Slack) on the The Ezra Klein Show David: DJI and the Rise of the Robomasters
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) CFO of Zillow Group Kathleen Philips joins Ben and David to cover the show’s first true “merger” versus “acquisition" (only took 22 episodes!), Zillow’s 2015 combination with Trulia to form Zillow Group. Note: our audio glitches unfortunately continued on this episode, and quality is rough. We recommend listening on speakers vs headphones if you’re able. We apologize and will be back to normal quality next time! Topics covered include: Zillow and Trulia’s beginnings during the “Web 2.0” era in the mid-2000’s Zillow, Trulia and other online players’ place within the massive US real estate market The lengthy “dance" between Zillow and Trulia and earlier aborted merger talks between the two The difficulty of "true mergers” among private companies and why the path is easier for public companies Public company shareholders’ influence and role in M&A transactions Details of the blazingly fast negotiations (27 days start to finish!) per disclosures in the SEC filings (scroll down to "Background of the Mergers”) Structuring the deal and incentivizing Trulia and Zillow mangers to stay and continue growing as separate brands Trulia cofounder Sami Inkinen’s whereabouts during the merger negotiations The experience going through a lengthy FTC review of the merger, and defining what the relevant “market” is the FTC should be considering Introducing our new acquisition category: a “timeline acquisition” ;) (h/t Kathleen) Zillow Group’s overall approach to acquisitions, folding into its broader HR strategy Zillow founder Rich Barton’s startup thesis of searching for "What piece of marketplace information do people crave and don’t have?" Followups: Snap Inc. Spectacles! Hot Takes: Twitter-Disney rumors, according to “people familiar with matter”! AppLovin’s journey from bootstrapped startup to $1.4B exit The Carve Out: Ben: The Marvel Symphonic Universe David: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight Kathleen: The Struts
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David go inside the M&A press with Bloomberg’s technology M&A reporter and host of the Deal of the Week Podcast, Alex Sherman. If you’ve ever wondered how stories about big deals get broken or what “according to people familiar with the matter” really means, tune in for the behind-the-scenes scoop! Note: A technical glitch with our recording setup created occasional short silences between Alex’s comments and Ben & David’s. It shouldn’t impact listenability, but we apologize for the awkward pauses! Topics covered include: Bloomberg’s own fascinating “history & facts” and origins following the acquisition of storied Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers Bloomberg’s core as a highly profitable technology business (selling terminals to Wall Street firms), with a large media empire built on top of it The tradable value of breaking M&A news & information to Bloomberg’s terminal customers, and competing on speed How “sources" work — and industry standard that sources be directly within the companies involved in a deal The coded language of M&A reporting and gleaning where information is coming from based on a story’s structure and phrasing The lifecycle of a story—steps from sourcing to writing to release, and reasons (or lack thereof) for why stories run when they do Internal & external PR resources companies use for M&A How Alex prioritizes his time researching and creating stories, and who he’s meeting with to hear about what deals are in the works The difference between ‘news' and ‘analysis', and why news dominates the majority of stories versus deeper analysis Media and social media business models, their evolution in the messenger world, and speculation on Twitter’s future How entrepreneurs can think about interacting with the press and building relationships with the right reporters for their stage and space Apple’s ‘unique’ approach to press relations Followups: Instagram announces 500k+ active advertisers, up from 200k in February 2016 Amazon stock price surpasses $800/share Hot Takes: Ford acquires Chariot The Yahoo! data breach and potential impact on their acquisition by Verizon The Carve Out: Ben: Phil of Drones’ Burning Man 2016 recap video David: Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths Alex: Clinton’s Samantha Bee Problem, by Ross Douthat in the NYT Opinion Pages
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David examine Google’s 2005 purchase of Android for a rumored $50M, undeniably one of the best technology acquisitions of all time. But will it top the list of these tough graders? Tune in to find out. Topics covered include: Welcome new listeners! We quickly review the show format for newbies. Community spotlight: Patagonia on a Budget from community member Matt Morgante (@mattm on Slack) Andy Rubin’s career trajectory and what made him “born to start Android" The undeniable “cool factor” of the Danger Sidekick in the early/mid-2000’s, including fans such as Larry Page, Sergey Brin and… Turtle from Entourage Android’s original ambition to build an operating system for… digital cameras WebTV founder Steve Perlman is pretty much the best friend ever Google’s own perspective on Android as their “best deal ever" The Android team’s reaction to Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone in January 2007, and redesigning the initial launch hardware Announcing Android and—equally importantly—the Open Handset Alliance (“OHA”) The much-talked-about "mobile holy wars", between Android’s “open” platform and Apple’s “closed” platform The less-talked-about US carrier wars with the iPhone + AT&T in one camp, and everyone else in the Google / OHA camp (including “Droid Does”) A quirk of history: HTC at one point acquires a majority share in Beats, resulting a short-lived period of Beats-branded Android phones (still available on Amazon!) The real battleground for Google in the mobile platform wars: the economics of “default search” (briefly known thanks to the Oracle/Java lawsuit against Google) Google’s detour into smartphone hardware with the acquisition (and subsequent divestiture) of Motorola The “fork-ability” of Android via the Android Open Source Project (versus “Google Android”), and the rise of Xiaomi, Cyanogen, Kindle Fire and other platforms The ecosystem economics of the Android business for Google “Defensive” versus “offensive” acquisitions, and protecting Google’s core search business Could (or would) Google have built an Android-like platform without acquiring Android the company (or having Andy Rubin)? Framing the technology world’s shift to mobile within (surprise) Ben Thompson’s Aggregation Theory The current “moving up the stack” of the competitive playing field as the mobile landscape matures Grading: Android versus Instagram? Followups: Waze launches Carpool in the Bay Area. Much consternation ensues on the Uber board. Hot Takes: The iPhone 7 (and AirPods) announcement The Carve Out: Ben: Business Adventures by John Brooks, Bill Gates’ favorite business book David: Ezra Edelman's fantastic 5-part ESPN documentary on O.J. Simpson, O.J.: Made in America
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David break down Jet.com’s meteoric rise, culminating in Walmart’s blockbuster $3B+ acquisition of the company just two years after its founding. Will we look back on this deal as an ‘Instagram-like’ bargain or a ‘Pets.com'-sized blunder? And most importantly, can *anyone* compete with Amazon going forward? We speculate wildly. Topics covered include: Community spotlight: Nowdue, a super fast invoicing platform for teams on Slack. Invoice like it’s the future! This looks very cool. Jet’s deep origins in Founder & CEO Marc Lore’s first two companies, The Pit and Quidsi (aka, diapers.com) Lore’s chance run-in with Jeff Bezos at a school picnic in Seattle in the early 2000’s Amazon's dramatic acquisition of Quidsi in 2010, including Bezos’ admonition to Amazon corp dev to keep Quidsi from being bought by Walmart under any circumstances (covered well in The Everything Store) Lore’s less-than-favorable opinion of Amazon's culture Lore's vision of Jet as an ‘online Costco’ that can directly with Amazon on price by selling goods to a “huge middle-class of people" at effectively zero margin, and make profit on membership fees Jet’s huge, pre-launch fundraising rounds, and subsequent massively promoted public launch in July 2015 Jet’s pivot in October 2015 to drop the membership model (their only profit engine), and subsequent massive growth (but also accompanying massive losses) 'Admitting defeat” to Amazon in July 2016? Immediately followed by the blockbuster $3B+ Walmart acquisition announcement Is e-commerce really a winner-take-all business and will Amazon just take over the world? Featuring liberal citations (again) of Ben Thompson's Aggregation Theory and the importance of customer experience. Is there any path for Walmart & Jet to compete effectively with Amazon? Is Marc Lore Walmart’s only hope? Fantastic interview with Tim Cook discussing (among other things) the massive amount of growth still left in the internet Followups: Lucasfilm: Star Wars Rouge One trailer drops! Featuring a strong female protagonist! New section: Hot Takes! (thank you @cteitzel on Slack for the idea) Verizon/AOL acquires Yahoo! Lyft reportedly turns down acquisition offer from GM Microsoft acquires Beam Randstad acquires Monster.com The Carve Out Ben: Michael Mauboussin’s Talk at Google and Reflections on the Ten Attributes of Great Investors after thirty years of honing his craft David: Strava, the fantastic social fitness-tracking app
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben & David are joined by special guest Taylor Barada, VP and Head of Corporate Development & Strategic Partnerships at Adobe, to discuss how large tech acquirers approach buying companies. This episode is full of great insights for startups & entrepreneurs who might find themselves navigating the M&A process, as well as anyone curious about the craft of dealmaking and the strategic approach of large acquirers. Topics covered include: How conversations begin between startups and acquirers The importance of building a relationship with acquirers over time and "investing in lines, not dots” (just like raising VC) The often under-appreciated role of culture fit between acquirers and acquisition targets How entrepreneurs should evaluate acquirers throughout the M&A process Two examples of successful acquisitions Taylor completed at Yahoo in Citizen Sports and IntoNow The M&A process at large technology acquirers, from initial conversations to LOI, due diligence and the definitive merger agreement The relative roles of Corp Dev, business/product owners and executive sponsors in the M&A process Common mistakes startups (and VC’s) often make in the M&A process Different “categories” of M&A that acquirers think about, and the relative risks & opportunities of “core" acquisitions vs transformative new businesses What percentage of deals Adobe looks at actually happen, and the importance of being willing to say no M&A as a tool for strategy, and the different M&A cultures & approaches at different companies Tech themes Taylor and Adobe think about as part of their M&A strategy Evaluating the longterm success of deals and the importance of the M&A integration function Followups: Ben & David’s quick take on Instagram Stories! The Carve Out Ben: Why the Concorde failed by Vox David: Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time Taylor: Mindset by Carol Dweck, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Topics covered include: Community Showcase: the Nexcast podcasting platform from listener Brian Sanders, along with their podcast chronicling the team’s journey building the company Waze’s origin in cofounder & CTO Ehud Shabtai’s desire to hack his portable GPS navigation unit Waze CEO Noam Bardin’s retrospective blog post on the Waze journey Waze’s Palo Alto office and the bizarre Silicon Valley phenomenon of tech companies being located in retail storefronts Apple’s ill-fated launch of Apple Maps as part of iOS 6 at WWDC 2012, Apple’s subsequent apology letter, and Scott Forstall’s ultimate ouster from the company The climax of the mobile platform wars… which it turns out Apple and Google both won Apple, Facebook, and Google all vying to acquire Waze throughout 2013 Google’s renewed design ethos under Larry Page Ben and David spontaneously agree (surprise) to create on a new category of acquisition for the show The increasing strategic value of data and data assets as technology enters the age of machine learning The coming mega trend of autonomous vehicles, and the role Israeli startups are playing in it (including the globalization of startups & innovation) The disruptive power of network and data-based business models Emergence of native as *the* definitive advertising medium on mobile, including ability to close the advertising loop via location-based products and services The Carve Out Ben: Weezer’s “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori” on Song Exploder David: Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED Talk Followups: None this week… coverage of Instagram Stories to come next time!
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) The meta show: Ben and David turn their gaze inward and examine the podcasting industry through E. W. Scripps’ recent acquisitions of the Midroll podcast advertising network and Stitcher podcast client. Featuring discussion of our own product process and metrics at Acquired. Announcements: We’re pivoting! (not really) Our new show description: A Podcast About Technology Acquisitions That Actually Went Well But we are launching a new feature! Since so many of you, our listeners, are also tech and startup folks and/or other builders, we wanted to create a space to feature cool products, companies and side projects you’re working on. Thus we’re adding a "Community Showcase” section to the show. If you’d like to be included just send us a Slack message or email, and we’ll choose one submission to feature on each show. This episode we’re highlighting BESTR, from community member David Resnick (aka @the_rezonator in Slack), which is an online platform to share lists of great things. Check it out and let David know what you think. Topics covered include: Top Google search results for “acquired podcast" Midroll’s origins in the comedy podcast Comedy Bang Bang (now an tv show on IFC) and exit last year to Scripps The structural challenges inherent to podcasting as a medium and the gap between audience size/engagement and industry revenues Opportunities for independent podcasters and our own audience and business metrics at Acquired Stitcher’s long corporate history as a venture backed company, first acquisition by French music company Deezer, and now second acquisition from Deezer by Scripps Problems with Stitcher as a product and industry reaction to the acquisition including John Gruber's response, Ben Thompson’s article on Stratechery, and Ben & James Allworth's discussion on their excellent podcast Exponent Handicapping Stitcher+Midroll’s chances for success within Scripps, and opportunities for new startups & innovation in the podcasting space Pioneer Square Labs’ own past efforts in the podcasting space and their process for evaluating potential new company ideas Shoutout to Pocket Casts and our listeners down under Followups: Twitch: bringing tipping onto the platform with the launch of Cheering + Bits (H/t Slack community member jamesk) Facebook Instant Articles: pour one out for Facebook Paper (developed by the Push Pop Press team) LinkedIn: the hotly anticipated SEC filing detailing all the negotiation drama is now live (scroll down to "Background of the Merger” on p.31) The Carve Out Ben: Mark Titus, AKA @ClubTrillion is joining the Ringer David: OKR’s and regular goal setting, including great “how to" from GV partner Rick Klau
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David return to make their first foray into enterprise software, covering Salesforce’s $2.5B acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013 with the help of special guest and ExactTarget cofounder & CEO, Scott Dorsey. Technical note: due to an issue we didn’t catch during recording, audio quality is significantly lower than usual for this episode (especially David’s voice). We apologize but hope you’ll give it a chance anyway— Scott offers great wisdom & insights, and the ExactTarget success story is a inspiring one underdog entrepreneurs, especially (but not limited to!) anyone located in the Midwest or elsewhere outside of traditional "Silicon Valley-style” tech hubs. Topics covered include: The decision to start ExactTarget post-internet bubble and in Indianapolis, with zero software experience between Scott and cofounders Chris Baggott & Peter McCormick Raising initial money from friends & family, followed by early investment and mentoring from Indianapolis venture pioneer Bob Compton Building and scaling a great sales organization within a technology company The importance of focusing early on a clearly defined target market (SMBs in the case of ExactTarget), and then “stair-stepping” up as the product and business scale grow over time ExactTarget’s unsuccessful first IPO filing during the financial crisis Building a "capital-efficient” early stage company, and the value of raising growth capital at the right time to step on the accelerator The value of “secondary” investments allowing founders, employees & early investors to “stay hungry” by achieving some liquidity along the way When and how to expand internationally and the importance of strategic resellers ExactTarget’s second successful IPO filing and life as a public company with quarterly financial reporting to Wall Street How the acquisition process played out with Salesforce and other bidders (including reference to ExactTarget’s incredible SEC filing detailing the entire negotiation—scroll down to "Background and Reasons for the ExactTarget Board’s Recommendation”, starting at the bottom of page 13) Approaching the difficult task of integrating a major acquisition involving thousands of people The fun story of ExactTarget’s winning Microsoft as a large customer—including actual sledgehammers Scott’s new Indianapolis-based venture studio, High Alpha Plus as always the "hard hitting" analysis across acquisition category, what would have happened otherwise, tech themes—and final grading The Carve Out Ben: The Talk Show live at WWDC 2016 with Phil Schiller & Craig Federighi David: The Score Takes Care of Itself by legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh, originally recommended by Jack Dorsey [no relation to Scott :) ] at YC Startup School '13 Scott: 2016 Scipps National Spelling Bee, including one of the finalists’ favorite words: indefatigable Followups: Instagram’s incredible user numbers announcement: 500M monthly active users / 300M daily active users
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David cover the 3-day-old acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft for $26.2 billion. They cover LinkedIn’s founding story by Reid Hoffman, break down their core businesses, analyze recent stock behavior, and speculate on the future of the company inside Microsoft. The big question - were they worth the price tag? Items Mentioned On The Show: Adweek: Snapchat Launches a Colossal Expansion of Its Advertising, Ushering in a New Era for the App The Facebook Effect - David Kirkpatrick LinkedIn’s Series B pitch deck LinkedIn’s S-1 Microsoft and Apple Double Down - Stratechery NYT Dealbook on stock based compensation at LinkedIn Josh Elman - When people get confused about “BS metrics” Fred Wilson: The Dentist Office Software Story The Carve Out: Jeff Bezos at Code 2016 Elon Musk at Code 2016
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David are joined by Todd Bishop, technology reporter and co-founder of GeekWire, to discuss Facebook's 2011 acquisition of Push Pop Press. Highlights include: The founding story of Push Pop Press by Kimon Tsinteris and Mike Matas. The evolution of Facebook Creative Labs, Facebook Paper, and eventually, Facebook Instant Articles. Facebook's role in the changing media landscape today. GeekWire's experiments with Facebook Instant Articles, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, and live video. The Carve Out The Startup Podcast Season 3 The Future of Technology is in Your Ear (Link to product) The Risk Not Taken
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David tackle their first failed acquisition: Facebook's 2013 offer to buy Snapchat. They cover the fascinating story of Snapchat's creation and growth, their blossoming business model, how it would be different inside of Facebook, and what the future holds. Items mentioned in the show: The Inside Story Of Snapchat: The World's Hottest App Or A $3 Billion Disappearing Act? Inside Evan Spiegel's very private Snapchat Story
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David return to technology acquisitions by examining a classic: eBay's 2002 purchase of PayPal. Items mentioned in the show: How the 'PayPal Mafia' redefined success in Silicon Valley - Tech Republic Instagram Will Be a $3 Billion Business This Year: Analyst President Obama and Bill Simmons: The GQ Interview "The Carve Out": Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder - The Bill Simmons Podcast - Chris Sacca
Join the Acquired Limited Partner program! https://kimberlite.fm/acquired/ (works best on mobile) Ben and David deviate entirely from the stated purpose of the show, tackling this non-technology acquisition that is so recent, we have no idea if it went well yet. But, the April 2016 acquisition of Virgin America by Alaska Airlines was so fascinating, we had to do it! Items mentioned in the show: Louis C.K. - Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy Alaska Acquires Virgin America Investor Deck “Measuring The Moat” Paper - Michael J. Mauboussin Business Adventures - Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street "The Carve Out": Michael Mauboussin: "The Success Equation:Untangling Skill and Luck" | Talks at Google
Ben and David continue the cloud productivity saga with Google Docs. They examine the suite of acquisitions made by Google with a focus on Writely in 2006. They tackle:
The nuts and bolts of the Upstartle (company behind Writely) acquisition, founded by Sam Schillace, Steve Newman and Claudia Carpenter.
SaaS offerings in cloud productivity today.
Was this a good idea for Google?
Google's future bets.
Ben and David have special guest Kurt DelBene on to discuss Microsoft's acquisition of Acompli, Sunrise, and Wunderlist. Kurt is the EVP of Corporate Strategy and Planning at Microsoft, and joins to discuss Microsoft’s cloud-first, mobile-first strategy, and the importance of being cross-platform in the modern era. They cover:
How the app of Outlook Mobile on iPhone and Android came to be.
How to decide whether to build vs. buy, and how it plays into the strategy for Office.
Ben and David test the widely-held belief that YouTube was one of the most successful tech acquisitions of all time. In today's world of next-generation video platforms, mobile video, streaming, and chord-cutting, was it actually a great purchase by Google?