The acquisition that got away

With the growing number of people turning entrepreneurs, the search for great talent has become difficult. However, a lot of these entrepreneurs will find it difficult to raise beyond seed stage money. Sometimes the team is great and yet they can’t raise money for reasons outside their control – e.g. they took seed from a VC firm and the VC firm is not not keen to follow on for various reasons (portfolio conflicts, traction, idea etc.). And this has created a reasonably active market for acqui-hires in India.

We did our first one recently when we acquired Niffler – we all hit it off in the first meeting itself and we had a term sheet ready within 48 hours.

But before this acquisition, in another acquisition, we had sent out the term sheet, and at the last minute the target’s investors asked them to talk to another one of their large portfolio companies and they matched our term sheet and closed the deal.

The deal had taken close to a month and a half to stitch up (multiple meetings with the founder to share the vision, negotiations on pricing and roles for all the team members etc.) and it felt bad when it didn’t go through.

When the founder shared that they were talking to another company, here’s the letter I sent him. They still ended up going with the other guy.



I couldn’t say much on the call but my overall feeling is that as the CEO you should do whatever is right for ABCD.

That said, in my role as the CEO of Akosha, it would be wrong if I didn’t tell you why we love you guys and why I feel Akosha is actually a better home for you and the whole ABCD team.

Here are my thoughts:

Relevance – I think it’s about the journey and not just the end point. For a company like ours, you guys will be in the top 7-8 people in the company working closely with me and the rest of the senior team to build the company. Being part of the strategic discussions and making an impact on the where things will go is a lot more possible in a company at our stage.

Upside – In terms of pure upside, being an earlier stage company, being at Akosha actually gives you the chance to create 10-20X potentially compared to a later stage company.

Cultural fit – I think for us this isn’t opportunistic – it was always about you guys and that is what we we really liked and I believe such a cultural fit creates a lot more joy and happiness in the long run. We are not reacting to someone else’s offer but were willing to think and come to the table from first principles.

Consumer business – The chance of seeing your product used by millions of Indian consumers is something that Akosha provides. Of course it is riskier but then we all live only once. 🙂

I can imagine it being a reasonably tougher decision for you to go for Akosha (location, B2C etc.) but I would have taken a similar call based on your gut. I think we’ve had fairly good conversations and we weren’t doing it because you guys are hot or had another offer – we truly felt that what we spoke about in terms of product / chat / B2C was quite exciting and that you guys got it.

Whichever way this goes, I’m really glad I met you. Koi fight nahi hai. 🙂

I look forward to hearing from you.


PS: What would have I done? Basically, my mental model is only relevance. Joining XXXXXXXXX would definitely be the safer and easier option but it may or may not be the right call. I do have tremendous respect for the company and for their founder, but from what I understand of org building, had you guys joined them 18-24 months ago, you would have been super relevant within the company. Today, I’m not sure.

My two “biased” cents. 🙂


You win some, you lose some. Most important lesson learnt – move insanely fast if the intent is clear. Close it, quickly.


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