Now offering Acquisition Consulting/Coaching (Say what??)

Getting acquired by a big tech company is a dream for many start-ups. That dream comes with caveats. The acquiring firm may love your product but they still want to assess the skill of your technical team. As a result, they will often interview them just as they would “normal” candidates applying to software engineering and PM roles. For the last year, I've been semi-secretly offering a new service -- what I call "acquisition consulting". People found out about me from word of mouth mostly, and word spread. Now that I've got quite a few successes behind me, it's time to announce publicly what I've been doing.

Let's back up so I can explain some things.

What is acquisition consulting?

When a company is acquired by a big tech company, they send the startup's employees through full interviews, as though these employees were applying for jobs themselves. This includes developers, the CEO (often for a PM role), designers, program/product managers, and other roles.

I coach your team to help them prepare for these interviews.

Oh, you mean acquihires?

Nope. This happens for acquihire acquisitions too, of course. But it also happens for standard acquisitions.

But what's the point?

Even when the acquirer is interested in the product, technology, and user base, it still wants to assess the quality of your team. After all, the team will -- if all goes well -- be part of the acquirer's team too.

They think this is the way to do it. (Happy to debate with you the merits of this, but for now, let's leave it at: this is the way it works.)

What's the point of these interviews?

As previously mentioned, the acquisition interviews are designed to assess the quality of your team. More specifically though, the interviews determine a few things:

  • Do they want to buy you?
  • How much do they want to buy you for?
  • Who from your team will join the acquirer?
  • How much will their offer from the acquirer be?

In other words, these interviews are a big deal.

And what do you do?

I'm here to help work with you and your team through the acquisition interviews.

In mostly the order below, I do the following:

First, I talk with your team for about an hour to give an overview of the interview process and any of their interview questions. I also offer a bunch of tips to help people relax more and "un-stick" themselves in the interviews.

Second, I do a full round of mock interviews for each person on the team.

Third, I teach missing any concepts to team members. Big-O time is often one topic covered; it's an essential one and many people are weak on this topic.

Fourth, I continue to work with developers, PMs (often the CEOs), and designers to assess their skills and advise them on how to answer questions better. Ideally, I'd love to get at least 2 - 3 mock interviews done per person, but that also depends on time.

In between meetings with me, I offer "homework" (to be done at the office) so that developers can focus on their weak points.

I recommend that companies spend as much time as they can prepping, essentially "shutting down" to focus on this. Many startups have done this and it generally works out well for them. But, of course, this isn't possible for all companies.

What's your background?

Funny you should ask!

Let me be clear: I am not a recruiter. Never have been.

I'm a software engineer who worked at Google, Microsoft, and Apple. At Google, I was a hiring committee member.

I'm also the author of Cracking the Coding Interview, Cracking the PM Interview, and The Google Resume. I'm also the founder/CEO of

got references? Who have you worked with?

Oh, do I! My client base has grown largely by referrals, so I've got a bunch of people are happy to offer a reference.

My prior clients have been acquired by Google, Yahoo, and AOL. Three of these clients are Xobni (acquired by Yahoo), Impermium (acquired by Google), and Incredible Labs (acquired by Yahoo).

What now?

Come talk to me if you're starting up the acquisition process. (Yep, I know, it's last minute. It always is!)

Also see: Acquisition Consulting.

Contact gayle <at> for more information.