ExitsStartup general interest

Making a killing at a $75m exit

By December 3, 2010 One Comment

image Yesterday eBay acquired a company called Milo for $75m.  Techcrunch reported on the deal with a post titled Confirmed: Ebay Acquires Milo For $75 Million.  Investors Make A Killing.

From an investor perspective the key to making a killing from a $75m exit is capital efficiency.  Milo had only raised $5m.  With that amount of money going in there is plenty of space within the $75m for the investors to make a good multiple and there to be plenty left for the founders (if you are trying to guess what the split might have been it is a fair guess that the investors had 33-60% of the business – although I have no inside information).

If the amount of money raised rises to say $20m then you need for times the exit (i.e. $300m) to get the same multiple for the VCs assuming constant ownership percentages.  Allowing for the fact that $20m raised means more rounds, more dilution for founders and a higher ownership for investors the same multiple for the VCs might be achieved with an exit as low as $200m – but either way it is much bigger.

All this is interesting because building a business that exits for $200m is more than twice as hard as building one that exits for $75m:

  • the company needs to have proved out much more, to have executed well for longer and scaled to another level
  • there are fewer acquirers willing/able to make acquisitions at that level
  • deals over $100m are harder to close – many companies have a different approval process for deals of that size (often full board approval) and $100m is a psychological threshold for many above which greater proof and commitment is required

For these reasons, and because companies can now be more capital efficient anyway, I think Milo style exits will become more common.

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