Large technology companies are relying less and less on bankers for M&A advisory. Instead they are poaching talent from Wall Street and building their own strategies and teams. Accretive EPS and DCF are no longer the buzzwords for tech M&A deals. The latest valuation methodology is Larry Page's toothbrush test, "Will you use it once or twice a day, and does it make your life better?"
While traditional investment banks might not be comfortable suggesting that clients pay such startling prices for relative unknowns, many big tech companies have built up robust corporate development departments designed to do just that. The teams are largely staffed by former bankers who have abandoned pinstripes and wingtips for T-shirts and sneakers. Cisco, which has acquired more than 170 companies, decided it was more efficient — and more economical — to hire its own full-time bankers rather than pay millions of dollars in fees each time it struck a deal. “Our heritage has been embracing M.&A. as a way to enter new markets,” said Hilton Romanski, Cisco’s head of corporate development, who started his career as a JPMorgan banker. “It makes sense to build a relatively scaled effort around M.&A. with teams and talent that understand the market.” Facebook has hired bankers away from Credit Suisse and Jefferies, among other companies, and gives them more responsibility than they would have at a bank. “They can run a deal from beginning to end,” Mr. Zoufonoun said. “As an analyst, they were doing one part of a pitch deck.” At Google, Mr. Harrison has an employee looking after the deal needs of each of the company’s 12 product areas, like ads, YouTube and search. That person goes to all meetings held by the senior members of that group, staying attuned to possible acquisition needs.