Here’s Google’s Criteria for Startup Acquisitions

October 6, 2015

2:12 pm

Contrary to what some startups may believe, there’s more to corporations and larger enterprises than the prospect of an acquisition. Most notably, there’s a lost opportunity when startups outright refuse or fail to consider potential partnerships with enterprises. There are many untapped benefits when corporations and startups form partnerships, and at Celebrate 2015, we had a panel of focused specifically on laying out the ways through companies like Google and Microsoft are helping startups. But, of course, the companies on-stage also talked about their various criteria for acquiring companies.

At today’s panel, Yahoo Tech writer Rob Pegoraro sat down with panelists representing large enterprises, including Corrado Tomassoni from PayPal Braintree, Steve Seow from Microsoft, Paul Swartz from American Airlines, and Don Dodge from Google. The panel looked into the various programs and collaborations in which startups can engage with enterprises to help them accelerate the growth of their products. Similar to last year’s panel, the panelists shared their insight on how startups can go about these partnerships.

One of the most notable points from the panel was the criteria that Google that uses when considering which startups to acquire. According to Dodge:

“Google acquires a lot of companies. Typically, we don’t acquire vertical applications…because that’s not our business. We’re more likely to acquire infrastructure companies…and companies that have amazing development teams.”

At Google, potential acquisitions involve startups that focus on building products on top of Google platforms. Whether that’s adding extra innovation to Google Drive, or improving Google Maps in a new way, the company focuses on startups that can leverage Google’s products. And, they don’t care about a startup’s revenue streams – regardless of whether a startup is succeeding, Google’s focus is on synergy with their platforms.

And the same goes with companies like PayPal Braintree and Microsoft, whether it’s a potential acquisition or partnership, both companies look at ways through which startups can leverage those platforms to deliver innovation. But how should startups approach enterprises? According to Microsoft’s Seow:

“Find out who you’re talking to – who that person represents in the company. If you meet don…think about what he does and what he represents. Don’t just sit down and tell us what your company does.”

For Seow, the important thing is to know who you’re talking to and to be direct about your ask – what is it specifically that you’re looking for out of a partnership? Swartz doubled-down on this point and emphasized the need for startups to know exactly what they want and what goals they have in order to land a great partnerships with enterprises.

On October 4-6, Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference is gathering hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas to meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country, learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities, and enjoy music, parties, and llama spotting. Check out more Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference coverage here.


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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.