CNBC had a good write-up of how the Figma acquisition got done.  How you really need a lot of both CEO and President/SVP level support to get a big “Bet The Farm” deal like this done, and more.

One of the many things that stuck out to me was just how long the $20B acquisition was in the making.  A decade:

  • Adobe first reaches out after launch in 2012
  • Multiple CEO-CEO level conversations “over the years”
  • Adobe waited until Figma truly proved itself

There’s a lot to learn here, and it’s easy to say with hindsight perhaps Adobe should have tried to buy Figma earlier for a lower price — maybe.  Or maybe Figma just had to get big enough for it all to make sense.  Hard to say.

But what is clear is Big M&A Deals often take a long time.  I certainly didn’t sell my 2 startups for $20B 😉 but in both cases (and one was to Adobe), it was a 5-year process.  Not a 5-year process of doing the deal — in both cases, that just took a few months.  But 5 years of getting to know you.  Of seeing the markets and world change.  Of closing enough deals to make an impact.

Whether you ever want to sell your startup or not, it’s always worth building relationships at the top public and private companies in your space — including your direct and indirect competitors.  You never know where it could go.  And if often takes a long time to go somewhere really great.

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