Venture Capital backed startups are a special breed. VCs invest in portfolio companies and expect a return in the form of capital gains. These returns often come in the form of an exit via acquisition. VC backed startups know this from the beginning and work towards returning their investors’ money.
What is the whole experience like from building a company to acquisition on the employee and founder side? We caught up with Matt Burton, currently the CEO of Orchard, who has been a part of two VC backed start-ups that were acquired: AdMeld by Google and LiveRail by Facebook.
Matt explains his experience building a startup as an exciting and challenging process: “You’re focused on building a product and going to market, which gives you constant insight into what’s happening on the front lines. You see the needle move (or not) and adjust strategy accordingly.” Many tech startups leverage this type of development and use market feedback to make adjustments.
Everything changes when the company is in acquisition mode explains Matt, “Product integration becomes the focus. Figuring out how to combine two separate company cultures is an essential part of the success of the two companies coming together. This isn’t always easy to figure out.” Disparate company cultures has been sited as one of the main reasons that the AOL – Time Warner merger did not work.
Although the acquisition process itself doesn’t vary significantly, each experience is unique. “Both Admeld and LiveRail had very strong company cultures that empowered employees and created comfortable work environments,” according to Matt. “Admeld was my first acquisition and I learned a lot about the process. When I joined LiveRail, I knew what to look for and what questions to ask. You get smarter with every acquisition.”
Matt Burton is currently the CEO of Orchard, an investment and analytics platform where institutional investors and loan originators connect and transact.