Acquiring Companies Just Like Apple

Tim Cook, Apple CEOSure, there are still plenty of people who are unemployed, but hiring really top talent remains a tough challenge. You have to sort through an awful lot of resumes to find that rare person who adds significant value to your organization.

So instead of hiring new employees, why not buy them instead? That’s not so outlandish. It’s known as an “acqui-hire.” That’s where you buy a company, not for its revenues but to get an entire team of top employees all in one fell swoop.

I’ve been doing just that. In fact, I recently purchased a sales and marketing company simply to get an instant team of top marketing and sales executives to work for me.

It’s a technique companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google have been using for years.

Here’s an example: Just this past Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed a group of analysts at the 2013 Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference – and talked about the company’s strategy of acquiring smaller, not larger, companies:

If you look at the last 3 years, we’ve averaged about an acquisition every other month. They’re companies where they have really smart people…. Great example: we bought a company a few years ago and we were in the process of building our capability to design the engines that are in all of today’s iPhones and iPads. This was an incredibly skilled group of guys … and they were working on PowerPC at the time. We didn’t have an interest in that, so we moved the skills to work on our iPhone and other engines. We will do more of those.

We have looked at large companies. In each case, it didn’t pass our test. Will we look at more? I think so. But we’re disciplined and thoughtful, and we don’t feel a pressure to go out and acquire revenue.

See that? Cook’s not under any pressure to “acquire revenue,” but he’s sure under pressure to get top designers and engineers. The result? Apple acquires about six companies per year to get access to those “really smart people.”

So if the deal is right, buying companies for their talent makes a lot of sense. I continue to plan to do just that as I build my brand and my companies, just like Apple does.

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