Selling Wildfire to Google - marking the big exit from a business venture
A lot of entrepreneurs dream of the big exit: That the company they set up, nurtured and raised will one day be bought by someone else, showering them with riches and maybe allowing them to move on to The Next Big Thing.
New Zealand-born Victoria Ransom has been through exactly that emotional cycle. The co-founder of Wildfire, a social marketing tool, she recently sold the company she set up four years ago to Google for an undisclosed amount; reports put the ticket at around $300-$350 million, but she hinted that was an underestimate.
Being acquired is a bit like dating; there is a lot of subtle sizing up, a lot of working out if you can really be together. For Wildfire there were several potential suitors. Some were from well established sources, but some, she said came from people she had randomly met. “Like sitting next to someone at a conference. Suddenly they call you out of the blue.”
“In at least a few cases there were a few casual meetings, you got to know each other, and then suddenly the questions would get a bit more intense. ‘Have you ever thought about being acquired?’ would be dropped into the conversation.”
But unlike dating, there is no love at first sight, no rushing into each other’s arms. Instead it all takes a lot longer, involves a lot more lawyers and a lot more paperwork. More like celebrity weddings, then?
It was all “Meetings, more meetings, and documentation,” Ms. Ransom said. “You might get to the point where you get a Letter of Intent, and that is a really big milestone. Then you go through this long, long due-diligence cycle. Then there are more documents to sign. So I guess on the way you get desensitized to the emotional impact.”