Dear SaaStr: My Startup Was Acquired and The Energy is Gone. What Should I Do Next?

My first suggestion is: Learn.

My second suggestion is: If Not, Then At Least Be Cool.

I know you probably sort of hate working in that BigCo corporate environment. I sort of hated it too. And I didn’t make it 3 years post-acquisition myself.

But … it’s a great learning experience:

  • I learned why F500 companies really buy both products and companies (I’d sold to many of them, but didn’t really understand how and why they bought, not really).
  • I learned how to increase pricing for real, from the customer side.
  • I learned how budgeting processes really work. So now I can sell better and figure out how to make a sale “within budget”.
  • I learned why Big Companies sometimes can compete well with start-ups … and why and when they can’t. So I learned when to fear Big Company competition and when not to.
  • I learned about cross-selling across different departments, and how that works, and how it doesn’t.
  • I learned how business development (and corporate development) really works at Big Tech cos. from their side.
  • I learned a lot about HR in the F500 (helps a lot with HR-related companies I work with and have invested in).
  • I learned a lot about F500 approaches to security and operations. This is good stuff to really understand. Because all start-ups cut corners.
  • I learned how managers and executives put their careers on the line for a new product, an acquisition, etc. I also got to see them fired for failing here. The better you understand this, the better you can get what you want here next time.
  • I learned (and often failed) how to Sell Up. I convinced senior management to keep our entire revenue team intact for 30 months, when they wanted to break it apart in 30 days.

Granted, I learned this all in about 14 months. Didn’t need 36 months. But learned a lot. Take advantage.

Now … if you don’t want to learn … and just Rest and Vest … because you have a retention package … well I won’t judge. I didn’t do this. I couldn’t do this. But perhaps I should have.

But if you do this … Rest and Vest … then … Be Cool.

Don’t let your team down. Don’t drop the ball on projects. Don’t say it doesn’t matter anymore. It does matter. It matters to your customers. To your co-workers. To your reports, and your boss. Treat people with respect. Even if it doesn’t feel as reciprocal as it did before, as often. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated.

If you are going to slack off, do it subtly, at the margin, and quietly. Still deliver when it really matters. Be Cool.

Experience the above. At least once. Don’t sleepwalk through it.

Even if it isn’t very fun.

9 Things Founders Should Know About Getting Acquired with Brett Goldstein, Former M&A at Google

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