Why Is Everyone Getting Acquihired Without Me


To hear her tell it, Amy’s start-up decided to sell itself to Google as a last resort, after failing to find traction in the market. Google agreed to buy the company for a relatively modest amount, then interviewed all five members of the company before extending job offers to everyone but her. Making offers to four-fifths of a company as part of an acqui-hire, while legal, is nearly unheard of in Silicon Valley, where mergers and acquisitions are still generally governed by a certain type of decorum.

Amy was heartbroken. Since joining the company, she had been paid a salary of $60,000, half what her male colleagues made. Under the terms of Google’s offer, Amy’s start-up received enough money to pay back its original investors, plus about $10,000 in cash for each employee. Amy’s CEO was hired as a mid-level manager, and her engineering colleagues were given offers from Google that came with $250,000 salaries and significant signing bonuses. She was left jobless, with only $10,000 and a bunch of worthless stock.

In “The Secret Shame of an Unacquired Tech Worker,” Kevin Roose talks to “Amy”, a woman who put something on Secret that has grabbed peoples’ attention.

And if you are wondering if you should download Secret, I guess my answer would be that it depends how much you enjoy zoning out with your phone before you go to sleep at night and then sitting up in bed to yell about how terrible people are and how we need to burn down the world. (Amy aside.) (Amy, it sucks and whoever was in charge of making that acquisition deal screwed you, however inadvertently, by not negotiating the terms of the acquisition so that everyone would be hired across the board, but I think you will be just fine.)

Photo: Elliott Brown

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15 Comments / Post A Comment

garysixpack (#4,263)

It is pretty unusual to not get hired in an acquisition, so I read the original article.

As it turns out, unmentioned in thebillfold btw, Amy is not a coder; she’s marketing. So it’s still unusual that she was not offered a position in Google, but it’s not completely inexplicable. The acquisition was just for heads. Google is going to dump the product and reassign the engineers to other projects. I can imagine Google not picking up someone if it’s a particularly bad match.

Did Amy interview with Google during the acquisition/hiring process? She did not mention how that went.

Meaghano (#529)

@garysixpack Yeah, my take is that it presumably makes business sense for Google– though she’s a designer not marketing, which is a lot different, arguably, but for these purposes maybe not — but it sucks that the team was willing to make a deal wherein the only consolation prize in their euphemistic acquisition is a big salary, meaning that she, a key employee, there from the beginning, on a tiny team, got no part of the equity she helped build. I wouldn’t say it’s unjust but I would say it’s bullshit of her team to not stipulate from the beginning that it’s everyone or no one, or at least make it clear that was the deal on the table and does everyone agree to it. Maybe they did communicate that, though.

garysixpack (#4,263)

@Meaghano
Well, “the team” probably didn’t cut the deal, one way or the other. The investors did. I doubt if the investors knew Amy or any non-founder/CEO on the team. It sounded like the company was pretty marginal and probably would have shut down if not for the acquisition. Amy would have been out a job either way.

The board would have and presumably someone from “the team” was on the board and would own majority of the company and therefore be ultimately making that call. But yeah maybe it was either take it or they were done.

NoReally (#45)

Second. Designers are not the same as coders, nor the product guys, since they were the ones doing the negotiating. Sounds like they didn’t value her much, since they weren’t paying her much. Yes, they could have insisted that she was part of the deal, but I have never noticed that “Making offers to four-fifths of a company as part of an acqui-hire, while legal, is nearly unheard of in Silicon Valley…” Google had seen her work and interviewed her.

I’m sorry to see this spun so hard as sexism on so little. If they’d had an engineering department of ten, and five were women, and they’d hired the five guys, maybe. You’d still have to see their resumés. And their code.

jquick (#3,730)

@NoReally Yeah, I knew something had to be off for her to make half of what the others made. NOT the same jobs, nor the same demand/desirability. Seems as though the guys studied STEM, and she didn’t.

Aconite (#6,401)

@jquick
So I didn’t study STEM, and all my life I’ve noticed that I have difficulties. Passers-by go out of their way to make my life hard – only yesterday a child with a cricket bat beat me savagely just because he “didn’t like the shape of my buttocks”. Animals either run away or actively injure me. It’s almost as if I’m… cursed. Do you think it could be because I didn’t study STEM?

@Aconite Heh. As recently documented in the Silicon Valley expose on HBO, that happens to a certain subset of the STEMinati as well.

littleoaks (#1,801)

I don’t think the sexism here lies with Google’s hiring decision but rather with her company’s lack of respect for her work and their willingness to throw her under the bus. Amy says in the article’s comments that she took a half-salary to stretch their operations budget, unlike her male engineer coworkers, all three of whom required their full salaries.

jquick (#3,730)

@littleoaks The guys are engineers, thus worth more, salary wise.

Allison (#4,509)

@jquick that is probably a higher pay grade in general, but that doesn’t mean that Amy didn’t take less money to be a team player.

littleoaks (#1,801)

@jquick The article says she made half of what her engineer colleagues did, and in the comments she confirms she took only half her salary to help the company. So, no, the difference in pay was not based on their different jobs.

Aconite (#6,401)

@jquick
Let’s be real here – they’re probably worth more as people, too.

NYGAM (#6,399)

“…but I think you will be just fine.” Of course, she will. According to the article, she has a rich, live-in BF.

TO CLARIFY I was referring to her much in-demand design skills.

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