Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Acquiring companies sometimes want the people, and sometimes want the assets

There are varying reasons why one company will acquire another company. For example, when Facebook acquired FriendFeed, it was immediately obvious that Facebook wasn't after the FriendFeed platform - Facebook was after the people.

This is apparently not the case with Microsoft's acquisition of Skype. Now there are some talented people at Skype. Take David Gurle, who happens to be a veteran of Microsoft, having worked on the development of Windows Messenger and other real-time products. However, he won't be returning to Microsoft, according to Skype Journal. Gurle and a number of other Skype executives have departed Skype before its acquisition by Microsoft - and, as Bloomberg points out, before they are entitled to payouts resulting from the acquisition.

Steven Hodson believes that Microsoft probably had no direct involvement in the move (but will be blamed for it anyway). However, Microsoft presumably had to sign off on the changes, since they materially affected the company that Microsoft plans to purchase. It's just like when you buy a house - you can't show the buyer an appliance-laden kitchen, and then yank all the appliances out once the buyer signs on the dotted line. Similarly, you can't surprise Microsoft by saying that the billions of dollars that you offered for the company does NOT include four vice presidents, a marketing pro, and a human resources director.

Speaking of said HR director, Anne Gillespie, her public LinkedIn profile says that she is an expert in change management. Let's hope so.
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