Acquisitions · Business Development

How do aquihires work?

Luigi Guarnieri Sales Support Cash&Carry presso Esprinet Italia

December 17th, 2016

As I understand it, an "aquihire" is an acquisition of a startup by a large company where the acquirer is not interested in the startup's product, technology or userbase, but only in its employees, who will presumably be shifted to work on the acquirer's own projects while the startup's work is abandoned.

The impression I get is that this is fairly common and explained as such employees being very valuable since they have proven the ability to create something.

But what is the advantage of a (presumably rather costly - or does it happen only to failed startups with low valuations?) acquihire over simply "poaching" those employees?

After all, the employees could leave the acquirer ASAP (especially if there is resentment over the product they had worked on being abandoned), and the founders and early employees (who have proven their ability the most) get a lot of money via their shares, which enables them to go off and do what what they've always dreamed of rather than work for $BIGCORP.

Doesn't sound like a good investment to me - so what am I missing?