How to generate an acqui-hire and sell your startup?

startups Mar 16, 2021

Today, let's talk about something that happened recently: An acqui-hire between Cruise and Voyage.

A few months ago, I was writing an article to explain how Oliver Cameron, Voyage's CEO, built his self-driving car startup.

Yesterday, he announced that he sold his company to Cruise, another self-driving car company.

So, I'm going to take the opportunity to write about BUILDING a self-driving car STARTUP and SELLING it to GIANT for MILLIONS of dollars.

That is called an acqui-hire.

It's gonna be fun, let's go.

What is Voyage?

Voyage is a self-driving car startup coming from the Udacity Self-Driving Car Nanodegree.
It's a spin-off.
Oliver Cameron, the curriculum lead from Udacity is now the CEO of this startup that gathers about 60 people.

What's so interesting about Voyage?

Building a self-driving car startup that competes with Waymo, Aurora, or Cruise is too hard.
So Voyage avoided the problem:
They decided to focus on retirement communities like the Villages in Florida which are safer and easier to drive.

And now, Voyage has been sold to a giant.

Cruise is the giant.

They call themselves the Apple of the self-driving car industry...

With an impressive technology, they can operate with no safety driver and no disengagements.

With unique partnerships with Honda and GM, they have the potential to produce self-drving cars globally.

With over $3B raised, they have a huge team of nearly 2,000 people. As a comparison, Voyage only raised 50 million.


So that's the story of an engineer who wanted to build a startup, gathered the right crew, and decided to niche as much as possible to avoid the giants and find a blue ocean.

And then, this person sold his company to one of these giants. 😎

We now come to acquisition.

"Now at Cruise, we are thrilled to have the substantial resources to eventually serve not just senior citizens, but every possible demographic who stands to benefit from self-driving services."

Voyage is shutting down the retirement community thing.
With that, they added that they would focus primarly on bringing a commercial robotaxi service to San Francisco.

In this case, we can see this whole operation as an acqui-hire.
An acqui-hire means you are buying a company primarly for its people.
It happens a lot in the tech industry.

How to create an acqui-hire?

When building a company, it's always an instinct to try and compete in the main race.

For sure, everybody wants to be Elon Musk.
But no one is ready for that level of sacrifice.
That's due to things, possibly entrepreneurship's ego.
For that reason, 99% of startups are dying.

Don't you see how Voyage did?
They accepted to be a senior company for 5 years...
...and to be treated as "secondary".
To be acqui-hired later.

Find a blue ocean: a SUPER-SPECIFIC NICHE, and tackle it building a team of ENGINEERS WITH GLOBAL SKILLS.

Build a self-driving car startup focused on retirement communities...and you get today's story.
👉 GLOBAL skills, SPECIFIC problem.

Build a laser company focused on vertical-cavity surface-emitting infra-reds...And you get Finisar, the company that built Face ID and was acquired for over $1B by a larger group.
👉 GLOBAL skills, SPECIFIC problem.

Let's end this article with this quote (from me):

"Your skills might be worth 50k, 70k, or even 100k per year, but they can be worth millions when sold to a company. Just accept the idea to be the giant's meal from the beginning."

👉 You can read my article on Cruise here.
👉 And my article on Voyage here.

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