Optimizing Trade Sale Exits - Introducing Key Drivers for a Successful Venture Capital Trade Sale Exit
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The purpose of this thesis is to shed some light on the black box of trade sale of venture capital backed small medium sized technology companies. The theory reviewed is mainly from venture capital theory, taking a special look at what venture capital is and exit. To understand the empirical finding there is a short review on trust, game theory and negotiations. The research material consists of 10 in-depth interviews with venture capitalists, corporate venture capitalists, business angel and entrepreneurs. They have different roles, but they all have in common that they have worked with or in venture capital backed small medium sized technology companies, where trade sale has been or is the exit vehicle. All of the interviewees have extensive experience, and draw their experience from several cases. The companies they refer to are mainly within oil and gas, some within IT. The main subject in the interviews has been to understand what can influence exit; if there are any specific activities or occurrences that the interviewees regard as a prerequisite to a successful exit, or having a positive influence on exit. What is behind a successful exit is not defined, and hence regarded as a subjective matter. There is no doubt that the research material stress that a successful exit is related to the entire investment process, not only to the exit phase. To understand the key drivers for a successful trade sale exit of venture capital backed small-medium sized technology enterprises, it was therefore crucial to understand what is important when building the company and what is important to do or not to do when preparing the company for an exit. This is the basis for the authors’ two research questions; 1) what are the key components to achieve trade sale exit of venture capital backed small-medium sized technology companies?, and 2) what are the key methods to optimize trade sale exit of venture capital backed small-medium sized technology companies? Even though different roles have different views of what is important when building and preparing a company for an exit, the study showed that regardless of role, there are certain key drivers behind a successful exit and that these elements are very much related to each other. From the empirical findings there are a set of components necessary to achieve trade sale exit, these are; 1) competence, team and culture 2) networks, trust and collaboration and 3) strategic alignment with potential buyers. Furthermore, to optimize trade sale exit there are identified two methods which are 1) socializing the business and 2) playing the game. Furthermore, the study strongly indicates that these elements are related to each other, and should not be regarded independently. Rather building a company and preparing it for an exit should be perceived as a process, where these key drivers should be part of the process.