Skype, launched in Estonia and acquired by Microsoft for $8.6 billion, proves that foreign founders can succeed in the U.S. Apple, Facebook, and Google frequently purchase companies. So how can you sell your business to an American tech giant if you have never had Texas barbecue and can barely find Florida on a map?
Tip 1. Become one of their own
Apple purchases a new company every two to three weeks, according to the company’s CEO Tim Cook. Many of these acquisitions are, in fact, “acquihires” that involve hiring people rather than buying a business. Only the lucky few are chosen for their technological advancements or the community they’ve built.
You can increase your startup’s value by building a relationship with the buyer. For example, the founder of Platoon, a London-based startup that helps independent artists, had a long-term relationship with Apple. Platoon’s CEO Denzyl Feigelson used to work for iTunes and stayed on excellent terms with the company. After leaving, he advised Apple on areas like Apple Music and live events.
Tip 2. Give them access to your market
A Swedish startup iZettle recently became PayPal’s biggest acquisition to date at $2.2 billion. Although this may sound like a lot of money, it makes sense for PayPal: iZettle operates in approximately a dozen European markets at a time when PayPal is looking to increase its presence in physical retail outlets in other countries.
E8 Storage, another foreign startup, develops software that provides flash storage installations for enterprises and data centers, was recently bought by Amazon and will merge with the Amazon Web Services development center in Tel Aviv.
Tip 3. Offer an improvement to existing products
In 2019, Google got its hands on Belarus startup AIMatter. The company created the Fabby app, which uses neural networks to transform images and videos in real time. Although the app is still a work in progress, there’s something else developers in Belarus have been able to offer. The U.S. tech giant is aiming to become an “AI first” company, and Fabby’s computer vision could be applied to Google’s existing AI products and works in progress.
In September, 2019 Apple had acquired Regaind, the French startup behind a computer vision API that extracts insights from images and helps developers analyze photos automatically. Regaind’s smarts could be used to better organize iPhone users’ photos.
Tip 4. Create something they want to develop in-house
For a big company, in-house development is always more expensive than buying existing technology. Amazon’s signature strategy is to acquire affordable, third-party technologies to power its hardware, such as the Kindle e-reader. For example, shortly after acquiring the Israel-based Yokneam for $250 million, a new 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire tablet was released.
Tip 5. Be successful and let them stay ahead of competition
The biggest acquisitions of 2019 were of startups trying to tap into newly emerging markets like virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, or driverless tech. For example, Facebook has acquired Prague-based VR studio Beat Games, which is responsible for some of VR’s most successful games.
The studio will join Facebook-owned Oculus Studios to develop more gaming content for Oculus hardware. As soon as VR achieves more mainstream appeal, Facebook will likely emphasize more content exclusively on Oculus.
We’re entering a new era of technological developments: By giving your potential buyer a chance to lead a new trend and reach out new horizons, you too can succeed.