Want To be A Successful Entreprenuer? Start Thinking Like Google

Over the years, Google has acquired more than 180 different companies, with its top ten acquisitions alone, running into about $24.5 billion.

That’s a lot of money, but Google has learned how to make the most of those purchases. Time Magazine recently wrote that the company had “perfected” the Silicon Valley acquisition, in part because its so good at retaining talent.

Time found that two-thirds of the 221 startup founders that accepted jobs at Google between 2006 and 2014 are still with the company today.

Business Insider recently got to chat with the man who’s been in charge of Google’s acquisition process since January 2013: VP of corporate development, Don Harrison.

Harrison spoke frankly about how Google thinks about mergers and acquisitions and why it thinks that focusing on founders is so important.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

– Google thinks about acquisitions very broadly. If a technology company does something that improves people’s lives, will be used daily, and can scale, it’s fair game — whether it makes robots, satellites, or ad products.
– The company usually goes out of its comfort zone to learn about new technologies.
– One of things that’s unique about Google’s M&A process is the big emphasis it puts on a company’s founding team and whether or not those people are a good fit for Google. The company wants entrepreneurs who are intellectually curious, who are willing to start from the bedrock of an idea and “reason up from there.”
– Google ensures that teams of Companies which they wish to acquire go through a pretty rigorous vetting process. Founders of those companies companies always sit down with CEO Larry Page and product VP Sundar Pichai before any decision is made.
– Although the company first looks at whether an acquisition could help it achieve its overall product strategy, it has rejected potential deals because of a company’s team.
– Google lures companies that are otherwise very successful independently into joining it by offering resources, autonomy, and the promise that Google is a very patient company. Its $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest is the perfect example.
– The company does regular, 90-day follow-ups on all of its deals, big or small, to ask questions like, “How are we doing against our original goals? How we are doing on metrics of retention? How we are doing on getting you the resources you need to succeed?”
– Overall, Google is proud of its employee retention, and has a bunch of people who came in through an acquisition that are still with the company, in new roles.
– Are you a startup that wants to get on Harrison’s radar? Focus on your product first, but ultimately get an intro through a mutual connection.

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