The war for technical talent is so intense that a handful of firms like Google, Facebook, Cisco, Apple, Twitter, and Zynga have shifted to a powerful but rare recruiting sub-strategy known as acqui-hiring. It involves established firms acquiring startup firms not for their products (only Facebook admits it) but instead primarily to capture an entire team of talented engineers and designers at once.
If in the past after reading about an announcement of an acquisition you’ve wondered to yourself why a technical giant was bothering to buy a startup with no profit, a seemingly unrelated product, and a product that was in a completely different field, now you know why. The strategy has recently received some added publicity because Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer recently announced that she was going to adopt the strategy used by her former employer Google, a king of acqui-hires. Mark Zuckerberg has boasted that “Facebook has not once bought a company for the company itself. We buy companies to get excellent people” (“Engineers are worth half a million to one million” — V Smith).
Acqui-hiring (acquisition hiring) is in direct contrast to most traditional corporate hiring, which simply doesn’t work when you are recruiting innovators who prefer startups over what they consider to be onerous “corporate jobs.”