Acquisitions · Mobile

How to sell technology to a software giant?

John Anderson

June 17th, 2014

Does anyone have any experience selling a developed technology/product to a large company such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc?  I've got a product that could offer real value to these types of companies.  I'm trying to weigh the pros/cons of trying to sell it to a company like that vs. trying to build it up from the ground myself.

I know that having a significant user base would give a large company more incentive to acquire the technology but I'm hoping that it's compelling enough to get some interest based on it's current state and functionality, which is significant.

Werner Krebs Financial & Marketing Software Developer

June 17th, 2014

We haven't found it difficult getting in the door with large companies, although each requires a slightly different strategy. Keep in mind that many of these companies have specific programs that scour the market for new technologies to purchase with their cash. So if you have quality offerings this may be one of the easier B2B sales, since your prospects sometimes come knocking on your door. It's important that your product or technology be a good fit within the larger company's overall strategy. Of course, plain old sound entrepreneurship --- continuing to develop your business while the big company deals are pending --- remains important. In addition to specific in-house programs at each big company, it also helps to have a great network to leverage for additional "channels" into each large company. There are some business development and sales professionals who are fabled for their ability to open doors to deal makers, so if you don't have a great network yourself you might want to partner with someone like that. Happy to chat more.

Shobhit Verma

June 17th, 2014

John,
Google and facebook historically have never bought technology for the sake of technology.
They have the capability to build any technology they want. If they buy technology from you, who will maintain the code ? Everyone knows it is harder to maintain someone else's code if there is not enough Knowledge Transfer.
Both Google and facebook are always interested in buying people who come packaged with that technology.
In some cases the people will be users of that technology, in some cases the people will be the team that built the technology/business.

That said, there is no harm trying!
Best wishes.
Shobhit

Mark Watkins Founder, The Hawaii Project

June 17th, 2014

In my experience big companies don't tend to buy technology on it's own, they have armies of very smart people building technologies. They're generally looking for a business, not a technology, unless that technology is right at the heart of something vital to them. And sometimes they "aqc-hire" a great team, but that seems to usually be where there's a pre-existing relationship. 

In the case of an enterprise company like Microsoft, the best way to get their attention is to win some of their customers and make trouble for them.

If you're set on exploring a sale, look for somebody with a title like "VP Corporate Development" or "Business Development" and try to get a warm intro - a random email from someone they don't know is likely to be ignored.

Rob G

June 17th, 2014

i've worked with MS for many years.  Timing is everything, and rarely is it the right timing.  If what you have already built and tested is something they are currently in the early stages of planning/dev and you can find the team working on it and the VP for that group has budget you could be in luck.  that's a lot of stars to line up, but it certainly has happened before. Big tech companies are hard to navigate unless you know someone connected internally.  By far the best approach, as Mark pointed out, is to prove that there is demand for your product and your product can complement one of more of their current offerings.

Shobhit Verma

June 17th, 2014

Noah, I think you are talking about the Bizspark program. They only give licences to some of their products and services for free. If they give guidance, access to decision makers, access to their own data or backend API access to talk to their products and integrate ... that would have meant something. Though valuable for some startups, it won't help with the current objectives.

Bill Trevor Digital Marketing | Social Media | Professional Networking | Websites | SEO | Helping Veterans :: CEO Web Smart Advisors

June 17th, 2014

I have (tried) to speak with Google previously and they believe nothing exists outside of their own dev so pitching with non-disclosure or non-compete is almost impossible. As has been mentioned the big software types snap up companies/products that have built a following. Most times they want the users/eyeballs and buy the product to shut it down (reduce competition)... my 2 cents ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ Bill Trevor CEO : Web Smart Advisors *Book smart. Street smart. Web smart.* www.websmartadvisors.com 617.823.6616 Web & Social Media | Pro Athlete, Sports & Entertainment Digital Marketing

Anonymous

June 17th, 2014

II'm interested in this topic as well and will be following the responses.  However, the only suggestion I can offer is in regards to Microsoft.  I was once talking with someone who worked for the company.  They mentioned that the company has a program allows startups to provide details about their technology (what it does, how it is roughly developed) and if selected into the program Microsoft would offer many of its applications free to the developer to integrate into the system with the hope of showing the value the technology could add to Microsofts existing products.

This was at least three years ago, but I do remember seeing the description of the program that the guy showed me that was somewhere on a company site.   

Sorry I do not have more details.