Aruba Turns Down An Acquisition Matt 29 Mar 2005

12 comments Latest by Jin

Speaking of staying independent, Aruba Networks is one company that is resisting acquisition as an exit strategy.

The company, which sells wireless networks to corporate customers, recently spurned Cisco. “We basically told them, ‘There’s not a number you can come up with that will be attractive enough to convince us to sell,’” said Don LeBeau, the CEO of Aruba.

The company’s chief technology officer, a former Cisco exec, explains: “I saw that it would have been impossible for us to fulfill our dream inside of Cisco. I feel we’re really on the cusp of this taking off, but know from my experiences inside Cisco how difficult it would have been to innovate.”

Interesting to hear from a former Cisco exec that the big-tech-company environment is inhospitable to innovation. Does getting acquired (or taking on outside investors) make innovation that much more difficult? And what does this mean for the little fish (like Flickr, Bloglines, etc.) that are entering big ponds?

12 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Josh 29 Mar 05

I would say it all depends on who is doing the acquiring. If it’s Google and probably even Yahoo then you are pretty safe. If it’s Microsoft then you’re in trouble.

pb 29 Mar 05

Will be interesting to see if this is the smart play. I’m reminded of PointCast and Evite turning down huge buyout offers.

Darrel 29 Mar 05

Sounds like 37sig is toying with the idea of being acquired? ;o)

Anusha Perera 29 Mar 05

enough said :)

Thumper 29 Mar 05

Wow. At least a couple of posts on this subject in the last few days.

I say it is possible to innovate inside larger companies, but it is probably not the rule.

Josh 29 Mar 05

I think 37 will stay indie. They seem to want their freedom.

Jamie 29 Mar 05

Thumper, I think Apple has proven that such a feat is possible.

Noah 29 Mar 05

The answer is how many cooks the company’s structure forces you to approve your broth with.

Reminds me of Panic’s History of Audion article, mostly the observations which showed why Nullsoft & AOLTimeWarner was such a bad pairing. The good ones know how to step back and let innovators innovate—definitely rare.

Don Schenck 01 Apr 05

I’m a big fan of Tom Peters’ work. Big fan.

Regarding Thumper’s comments about not being able to innovate inside a large organization (of course, who would take you seriously as long as you go by “Thumper”??): Tom Peters would not only disagree with you, he’d INSIST that you DO buck the system and innovate.

Think about it: Every great accomplishment is … uh … accomplished by someone going AGAINST the rules, bucking the system, what-have-you.

No … really … THINK about that.

If you are stuck in a huge corporation with bylaws and rules and “values”, you owe it to yourself and the corporation to stir things up, make a mess, create innovation, and either become hugely successful or get fired. Either way, you win.

As Helen Keller said: “Life is a great adventure, or it’s nothing at all”.

(She also said “Damn! Who moved the furniture?!”) *smile*

Jin 22 Feb 06

Yahoo! seems to use Flickr very well…