An entrepreneur is someone who, almost artistically, designs a living entity which embodies the values, beliefs, and ambitions of the creator. It’s impossible for a larger entity to swallow a smaller one without completely reshaping it. When this process begins, a wild visionary – the entrepreneur type – is the most toxic, indigestible actor imaginable. And this is why I roll my eyes when a new acquisition is announced: Because I don’t see it as a triumphant graduation but a sacrifice to an industry that is afraid to dream big.
An acquisition, or an aqui-hire, is always a failure. Either the founders failed to achieve their goal, or – far likelier – they failed to dream big enough. The proper ambition for a tech entrepreneur should be to join the ranks of the great tech companies, or, at least, to create a profitable, independent company beloved by employees, customers, and shareholders.
I’ve always had the feeling that Jake expresses, and it’s good to hear it expressed so clearly from someone who’s been through it himself.
Entrepreneurship is a creative act. It’s about creating something that we think ought to exist in the world. Something that is inside of us that we have an urge to express. It’s a creative pursuit, it’s art that makes money. And when a company is acquired, what happens to all that creative output? More often than not, it’s tossed, if not immediately, then eventually. Or it’s misunderstood, distorted, diluted by the toxic fluids that live in the corporate bowels.
As it happens I’m currently listening to the Walt Disney biography. Clearly an artist, and a great one at that.
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that every acquisition is a failure. But then again. If they could, why wouldn’t Pixar want to create the next Disney, rather than being owned by Disney?