20VC: So You Want To Be Acquired? Instacart VP of Corp Dev, Dave Sobota on His Biggest Lessons From 10 Years in Google’s M&A Team Working on The Acquisitions of Motorola, Waze & Android
Posted on 15th April 2019 by Harry
Dave Sobota is the Vice President of Corporate Development @ Instacart, the company that delivers your groceries in as little as 1 hour. To date the company has raised over $1.9Bn in funding from some of the very best investors and operators including Mike Moritz @ Sequoia, Jeff Jordan @ a16z, Aaron Levie @ Box, Sam Altman, Garry Tan and more incredible names. As for Dave, prior to Instacart, he was Director of Corporate Development @ Google for over 10 years and before that was with leading law firm, Wilson Sonsini.
1.) How Dave made his way from the world of law to Director of Corporate Development at Google to his position at Instacart today?
2.) In 2016, we had 513 BC backed exits, 499 were M&A, so how does Dave assess the M&A landscape today? Why id Dave bullish on the future M&A environment, at least for the next 12 months? Where are his concerns around M&A clustering? How does Dave view the entrance of large scale PE into the tech M&A arena?
3.) From leading Google’s M&A practice, what have been Dave’s core learnings on whether an entrepreneur should sell their company or remain independent? Paul Graham once said, “startups only talk to corp dev when they are doing really well or really badly”. Does Dave agree? What are the reasons a startup would not speak to corp dev? What is the right way for them to communicate this while leaving the door open for future conversations?
4.) How does Dave operationalise the tracking of the startup market and determine what startups he wants to meet? How does Dave like to and think about working with the VC community here? What does that relationship building process look like? In those early meetings, what are the core questions that founders must ask? How much of a role does price play for Dave when considering an acquisition?
5.) How can founders ensure when they sell their company, that it will be properly integrated? What answers from the acquirer suggest it will or will not be? From countless M&A processes, what do the best integrations look like post-acquisition? Where are mistakes often made? Does Dave agree with Paul Graham in stating it is a “gruelling” process?