Episode 37: BAMTech, Disney and "the Biggest Media Company You've Never Heard Of”

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:

The Carve Out:

Episode 36: The LA Clippers

In honor of the 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:

The Carve Out:

Episode 35: Oculus

Episode 35: Oculus

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:

Hot Takes:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 34: Starbucks IPO with Dan Levitan

Episode 34: Starbucks IPO with Dan Levitan

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:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 33: Overture (with the Internet History Podcast!)

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 tailad 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:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 32: The Snap Inc. IPO

Episode 32: The Snap Inc. IPO

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:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 31: The Uber - Didi Chuxing Merger with Brad Stone, author of The Upstarts & The Everything Store

Episode 31: The Uber - Didi Chuxing Merger with Brad Stone, author of The Upstarts & The Everything Store

Brad Stone, Senior Executive Editor of Global Technology at Bloomberg and author of The Upstarts and The Everything Store, joins Ben & David to dive deep into the Uber-Didi saga, a wild story with far-reaching implications that still aren’t fully appreciated by most of the Western tech community. Brad has been the foremost US chronicler of Didi through his reporting at Bloomberg and work on The Upstarts, and shares fascinating insights about its founder & CEO Cheng Wei, how the tech landscape is evolving in China, and lessons & themes that other technology communities around the world can learn from their rapid rise. 

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:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 30: P.A. Semi + AuthenTec

Episode 30: P.A. Semi + AuthenTec

Ben & David venture into the semiconductor world, analyzing two hallmark Apple acquisitions: P.A. Semi and AuthenTec, both of which would go on to form the basis of core Apple product features in the “A” series of processors and TouchID sensors. Was Cupertino smart to bring these components in-house? Is there more value realized in the whole of Apple’s products than the sum of its parts? We investigate! (Spoiler alert: um, yeah. :)

Topics covered include:

Followups:

The Carve Out:

 

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 29: Special—2016 Review and 2017 Predictions

Episode 29: Special—2016 Review and 2017 Predictions

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):

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 28: The Amazon IPO with original Amazon Board Member Tom Alberg

Episode 28: The Amazon IPO with original Amazon Board Member Tom Alberg

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:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 27: Special—A Conversation with Microsoft's Head of Strategic Investments Brian Schultz

Episode 27: Special—A Conversation with Microsoft's Head of Strategic Investments Brian Schultz

Ben & David chat with Brian Schultz, the Managing Director of Strategic Investments & Corporate Development at Microsoft, about Microsoft’s approach to M&A, investing, and partnering with startups — and his journey from acquirer to acquiree and back again! 

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:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 26: Marvel

Episode 26: Marvel

Ben and David complete the Disney acquisition trilogy, covering the "house that Mickey built"'s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Will our own superheroes save the day for shareholders, or perish at the hands of villainous corporate raiders? Tune in to find out!

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:

Hot Takes:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 25: The Facebook IPO

Episode 25: The Facebook IPO

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

Topics covered include:

Followups:

Hot Takes:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 24: Skype

Episode 24: Skype

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:

Followups:

Hot Takes:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 23: NeXT (Live show at the GeekWire Summit)

Episode 23: NeXT (Live show at the GeekWire Summit)

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:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 22: Zillow + Trulia with Zillow Group CFO Kathleen Philips

Episode 22: Zillow + Trulia with Zillow Group CFO Kathleen Philips

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 “time machine 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:

Hot Takes:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 21: Inside the M&A Press with Bloomberg's Alex Sherman

Episode 21: Inside the M&A Press with Bloomberg's Alex Sherman

Ben and David go inside the M&A press with Bloomberg’s technology M&A reporter and host of the Deal of the Week PodcastAlex 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:

Hot Takes:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 20: Android

Episode 20: Android

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:

Hot Takes:

  • The iPhone 7 (and AirPods) announcement

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 19: Jet

Episode 19: Jet

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:

Followups:

New section: Hot Takes! (thank you @cteitzel on Slack for the idea)

The Carve Out

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More

Episode 18: Special—An Acquirer’s View into M&A with Taylor Barada, head of Corp Dev at Adobe

Episode 18: Special—An Acquirer’s View into M&A with Taylor Barada, head of Corp Dev at Adobe

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:

The Carve Out:

Full Transcript below: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Read More