Tagged: acquisition

Day 17 of 30: The Cold Call

3.39pm. I just had a huge rejection. But I actually feel shit cool about this one. 

Why? Because I literally emailed a goliath and asked him could he take a call. 

He responded. “I’m in an airport. Phone me now. My number is xxx xxx xxxx.”

Suddenly I’m on the phone to one of the worlds biggest CEOs. Within 5 minutes I had made my pitch, offering the company at a price and asking for him to commit to investing over 2/3 years.

As we go to the wire on this, we have nothing to lose. It felt like a pretty ballsy thing to do, and now I know I can cross them off the list.

His reason why he couldn’t do it was because his own company (who are MASSIVE) was in itself  a state of flux. He was candid and explained fully the position he was in. 

In the space of 20 minutes I got an answer that took me 2 weeks to get from my previous offer. 

I appreciated his honesty. For some reason I always find the people at the very very top of the trees easiest to deal with. I guess its because they are in a relatively similar situation to me… trying to keep a ship afloat…. even if they are dealing with billion of dollars.

Thats two big NOs.

Ehhh…. anyone else around?

– John Startup


Day 15 of 45: Rejection

7.46am. Jet lagged. Have been on the road for a couple of days. Will fill in the blanks latter perhaps. Had planned on doing that now, but just got an email of rejection in my inbox from the guy and industry juggernaut I offered to sell the company to last week.

“we can’t complete a purchase of this type right now as we are etc etc etc”

All I can say is fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck…bummer…gut kicked… ugh… ahhh

Please forgive my language.

It’s a bit like a girl saying she’s just not that into you. It so hard to take.

This was clearly the best show in town, and could not avoid spending much of the last week thinking about the future possibilities. I was going to put a down payment on a small house. I was going to give some kick back to important people. Everybody was going to be happy. I was going to get a personal trainer.

Shaking my head.

So the questions are – Did we offer the company at a price that was too high? A couple of our investors had advised to ask for a highish price that my gut told me was too high. A couple of advisors told me to go low, and get out of jail. In the end I think we went mid – high. It could have been a factor. It’s hard to tell.

Did I jinx it somehow? I’m not one for superstitions, but did I tell too many friends? Did I write about it too much? I know this is nonsense… but you do think about that. Does putting out information on any level cause a train reaction of energy that comes full circle in the form of a big NO.

Nevertheless I wrote back to this guy with an email that stated how he needed to view it. Beating a dead horse? Perhaps. They say you can never make a girl fall in love with you. Is the same true in business?

Ok, off to another meeting. Blanks to be filled in later.

John Startup


Day 13 of 45: Smug and Soulless VCs

10.04am. I can’t believe I have made an offer to sell the company. I have worked on this for 8 years! Selling it is a big deal. I’m not sure it’s even a good idea. Perhaps I’d rather go broke and it should wind down than sell it on.

On the other hand, maybe this is just a natural development. Like a child growing up and leaving home. 

We finally came to a valuation price that is a bit high, but fuck it. Let’s see what they say. If they said yes… it would be incredible (realizing I’m contradicting myself already). But they could easily say no. They might not even be interested. Time will tell, and we’ll know very soon.


On Friday we had another presentation with a huge global fund. I was told by my side kick that it was my best presentation to date. I was very aggressive. I spoke the company up on every level. I had an answer for everything.

But these guys were smug. It annoyed me. 

Firstly, they came along late. I hate that. No excuse not to be punctual. It’s just rude.

Secondly the whole time I was making my wizzy Prezi presentation, the main guy we were speaking to, spent most of his time with his head down tapping on his IPad. 

We had a pretty good idea these guys were not interested before we went in and hence why I was aggressive in my presentation style.  I wanted to grab their attention. But even still, they could have been polite, showed interest for 20 minutes, and made a suggestion or two to us. 

One thing I’ve learned in recent years, is that whenever anyone shows you something, or comes looking for advice – be nice to them, give them your thoughts. Give suggestions. Perhaps even suggest another person for them to meet. It’s good karma.

But these people were utterly soulless and smug. I feel sorry for them. Who needs money which such attitudes?

Big week on the cards.

John Startup

Day 10 of 45: The Big Meeting

11.42pm. Today was the day of my big meeting with an industry legend from one of the most well recognized companies in the world. In my field this is a man to meet. This is a man I would welcome as an investor. 

Ok, let me back track a bit and put this into honest context. The company in question has been a juggernaut over the last 30/40 years. In more recent times it has lost quite a bit of its relevance and luster as it has pursued more lucrative paths. Despite that, it is probably more successful now that it ever was before. It’s a bit paradoxical.

There might have been plenty of times in the past few years when the idea of selling out to this company would have been seen as very uncool; a bit like selling your soul to the devil. This un-named company has gone from being important, to being the epitome of commercialistic greed.

But as my time is running out, and I look around, there are not many other companies that represent such a good fit. I think we could give them a good amount of credibility. And through them, our profile and opportunities would be lifted immeasurably. Most pressing, we need their capital to survive. 

Prior to the meeting today, I had a call with some other advisors on how best to conduct it. There is talk that we could be a good low cost acquisition for this goliath. I would not be against that right now, but what was I supposed to say? “Here’s my company. It’s cool. Do you want to buy it?”. That’s not standard operating procedure. You can’t look needy. You can’t look desperate. You need to be like Frost, coaxing an apology out of Nixon. (I don’t know where these analogies come from). But we have the pressure of a ticking watch here…. we are getting desperate!

Anyway, meeting time came about. We checked in at the front desk. We showed our IDs, got a sticker and up we went to the 35th floor. The space was open, and shiny, and bright, and colorful.

We were asked to wait in reception. As my colleague sat down, I walked back and forth surveying the pictures on the wall. I tried to take them in, but lets face it… I was nervy.

Finally we were invited into the main mans office. What a view!

The meeting went well. He asked lots of questions. We got on fine. I always try be relaxed and humorous… striking a good balance is important, but tough. Sometimes I try to go for the jugular too much. Throwing out different selling points when I feel one is not enough.

He seemed genuinely interested. But he had a demeanor that is hard to read. That probably explains why he’s in his job.

The meeting ended with him stating, “Write me a one pager on what your looking for, and how we could work together.”

And so that was that. 

The moment we left, myself and my colleague started dissecting. I felt it went ok. 3 out of 5. My colleague said I should write back to him and offer him the company for a million bucks. I said we’d need 4 million. He said not a chance. We’re not worth it.

When we got back to the office, I called our current investor to tell him how the meeting went and for advice. “I need to know when asked what the valuation on the company is… what’s the exact amount I am asking for?”

“5 to 10 million I think” he responded.

Bloody hell. 30 days to go. It will be some month if that happens.

I need sleep.

John Startup