12 key lessons about tech mergers and acquisitions from Cisco’s John Chambers

TechCrunch | 12/23/2018 | Staff
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Cyril Ebersweiler is co-founder and managing partner of HAX, and a general partner at SOSV.

Benjamin Joffe is a partner at HAX.

John - Chambers - Chairman - Emeritus - Cisco

John Chambers, Chairman Emeritus of Cisco (now founder of JC2 Ventures), knows a thing or two about tech acquisitions: he bet his career on a first one in ’93, and went on to complete 180 M&As during his 20 years tenure.

His latest message for large corporations is an alarm bell. In a fireside chat at the HAX M&A Masterclass that followed the publication of his book: Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World, Chambers issued a clear warning: learn about tech M&As or the future might happen without you.

Lessons - Video - Transcript

Here are the key lessons to take away (video and transcript are here):

When stepping down from Cisco in 2015, John Chambers said that 40% of companies will be dead in 10 years. And 10 years might now be conservative.

Years - Amazon - WalMart - Airbnb - Hotels

It took about 20 years to Amazon to challenge WalMart, barely 10 to Airbnb with hotels and to Uber with taxis and car ownership. The next wave might just take 4–5 years. Since no company can invent everything — even Apple or Google buy startups routinely — you’ll need to either buy or partner seriously with startups (more on that later).

‘Every company you’ll acquire over this next decade will probably be indirectly or directly a tech company’, said Chambers.

Companies - Tech - Startups - Many - Corp

Non-tech companies need to get up to speed on how to work with tech, and startups. Many of the corp dev executives who attended our last event were not from tech.

I met recently power tool companies from US and Europe . They had just set up CVC arms. They were looking into acquisitions, saying ‘we don’t know software’. They’d better tackle that M&A learning curve quickly!

Software

Where do you fit the software?

There was only one Steve Jobs, who...
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