Digital Insights

The Dangers Of Selling Off Your Company To Anyone


Published: January 26, 2011

In the age of the Internet, entrepreneurs and startups thrive. Some startups are looking to sell quickly while others want to make a significant impact with their business. Selling your company might be the next option to progress it you can’t handle it alone. However, selling off your company isn’t without pitfalls

Take Mike Arrington, who sold Tech Crunch to AOL in September, a move that prompted some criticism but the reasoning was right. Arrington was thrilled to have AOL buy TechCrunch and help solve some fundamental issues plaguing the site such as downtime and scaling. However, Mike wouldn’t strike a deal unless he knew AOL would keep its hands off the editorial direction of the site.

But, there is a problem that has Arrington fuming: An interstitial Ad for Dell. A few fingers are pointing squarely at AOL and asking his staff about the culprit leads to silence. Unfortunately for Mike, if AOL had a hand in this, it highlights the potential dangers he’ll face.

The problem came from an annoying Ad appearing on the site before visitors could enter making the experience a poor one for TechCrunch readers. Neither AOL nor Arrington’s team will reveal who bought the Ad which is irony at its finest after he slammed Engadget, also an AOL owned site for its particular ad use in an isolated event. While Engadget itself hadn’t authorized the ad, Arrington’s outrage at AOL reveals a common problem in selling a company off: internal problems.

When someone so involved in a company sells it to another, changes are bound to happen and tensions can rise from the sale. Arrington’s stress with AOL probably isn’t the last occurrence so what can we take away from this? Internal problems are bound to happen. The best thing a company for sale can do is prepare its team as much as possible and make the transition process as smooth as can be.

If your company is being sold and you have every intention of remaining, set boundaries on what can be touched and what can’t. Think from your team’s perspective and gauge their feedback. Some may want to leave, it’s typical and if it’s their decision, recognize that and adjust accordingly. Bringing in a new company through a sale introduces dozens of variables that need to be addressed and may disturb the amazing chemistry of your company’s team. Making the process smooth and keeping everyone informed is the best thing you can do for your team.

  1. Poligrafia says:

    Interesting article. I really enjoyed it and have some thoughts.