Working at a startup can be challenging, fun, and really rewarding. With all of the natural ups and downs, you may not notice signs of an upcoming acquisition. And, while being acquired isn’t the end of the world, it signals a large change. And it may be time to polish your resume. Just in case you don’t like the new host company and the way your job is restructured. Stay on your toes and look for these 6 signs.
1. The CEO is MIA
If the CEO is traditionally a visible part of your startup and you haven’t seen them around much, there may be an acquisition looming. When they are in the office, they’re particularly dressed up and having a lot of closed-door meetings or talking about all of the off-site meetings they’re attending later in the day. These are telltale signs that an acquisition is a possibility in the near future.
2. Projects Dying Left and Right
The most common sign of acquisition projects, particularly ones that are almost ready to launch, dying left and right. When no managers are moving forward on projects and you’re stuck catching up on bug fixes, this is a pretty clear sign that the startup you work for is about to be acquired.
3. Strange Reorganizations
If there’s a handshake deal in place, your company may start to reorganize its employees and departments to ease the transition and integration process with the purchasing company. This might look like two seemingly unrelated teams suddenly reporting to the same manager or it may look like the reorganization of duties within development teams. If the reorganizations seem a little strange to you, it could be a sign of an upcoming acquisition.
4. VC Funding is Drying Up
If your startup has celebrated VC funding milestones in the fast but you haven’t heard much about new VC funding or the CEO taking meetings with VC firms, this is a pretty clear-cut sign of an acquisition. Why? Because the more VC funding your startup has, the more entities there are for an acquiring company to appease which makes the deal less attractive overall.
5. Hiring at a Stand Still
Watch for a hiring standstill. This means that despite the fact that your company’s advertising, no one is getting hired. This is especially noticeable if you’re currently understaffed and truly need people yet no one is getting hired. Because prospective buyers want a deal with as little overhead as possible and salaries look like overhead to them, startups are hesitant to hire new employees when an acquisition is looming.
6. Whispers and Less Open Communication from Management
Even the most open, honest management team becomes a little hush-hush when it comes to acquisitions. Part of the reason for this is that they’re still under the negotiation process and nothing is official. So they don’t want to make an announcement before everything is squared away. Another part of the reason for this is that they’re concerned for their own jobs and the necessity of their position under a larger corporate umbrella, so they may be too distracted to share. If you’re noticing a lot of whispers of upcoming changes and management is staying silent, this could signal an acquisition but it could also signal a business going under.
If you’ve noticed one or more of these six signs, the startup you work for might be acquired soon. Polish up your resume in case you don’t like the changes the new owner makes but don’t panic. An acquisition could signal a big change in the job you love. But things could go on similarly to the way they used to!
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