In the business world, and the tech world specifically, acquisition is sort of a 4-letter-word. Some people strive for it as part of their exit strategy. Companies buying out companies has always happened. However, the shiny thought of a company buying yours for millions of dollars is an “all that glitters ain’t gold” type of happening.
I read an article on TechCrunch about Etsy pulling the plug on Grand St. and I got sad, and I’ve never even heard of Grand St. before reading that post. The creative technology marketplace had sellers who offered innovative hardware that was either in beta or pre-order. It looks like a gadget geek’s paradise, with chargers, speakers, skateboards and more.
Etsy acquired the company last April for an undisclosed amount, but rumored to be less than $10 million including cash and stock. Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson said the two companies had a similar vision of independent selling, but in my eyes, the two companies couldn’t be more different. I think of Etsy when I want to buy home decor, jewelry, or other things I can’t craft to save my life. Now that I’ve looked around the Grand St. website, I’d go there if I wanted to buy very cool sleep headphones eye mask. I’m a consumer, not a seller, but still.
I get that companies have bigger dreams and want to pivot into other markets, but I can’t help but to feel bad for the founders of Grand St. Acquisition was probably awesome payout wise, but think about the people who probably lost their job due to “rightsizing”, and the sellers who probably came to Grand St. because of their why:
Grand St. is a marketplace for creative technology. We are a group of makers and consumers who believe extraordinary new hardware deserves a new type of store.
Emphasis on a new type of store. Sure, Etsy is different, but it’s not a place I think to shop in terms of creative tech. More like creative crafts. Reading that Grand St. will now become “a gallery of content and photos” really sucks.
I can be way off the mark, because I don’t know the Grand St. team. I don’t know what their end goals were or if this acquisition aligns with their exit strategy. Maybe the payout was worth the company essentially being put on a shelf. Everyone has different reasons of going into business. But the visions of both companies just don’t seem that much alike.
I like seeing companies partner up to open the marketplace up for new opportunities. Not big bank takes little bank. Unless they acquired them for their technology. If that’s the case, why not license out the resources, rather than sell it for good?
Reading the bios of the Grand St. team, I’m confident that if they don’t continue with Etsy, they’ll all go on to do more amazing things. Maybe they’ll start new companies, or go on to other existing companies and bring the goodness of tech to those teams. Yes, that includes the resident Boxer, Rockstar, and the resident Frenchie, Onyx, too. I just hope all companies, those acquiring and those being acquired, think about what their end goal is.
Featured image photo: CC image courtesy of Peter Kirn on Flickr.