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I've been made an offer to join a company that is the process of being acquired. Is there anything I need to ask or consider during my negotiation process based on the fact that they probably will soon be own by another company?

Here are some of the things I'm concerned about:

  • will my equity be rendered worthless due to the new company being a large public company with stock that seems stagnant.
  • is there a way to gain some advantage with my stock should the acquisition go through? An example I've heard about is having one's stock vest immediately should the company be acquired.
  • Should I push for a higher salary since there is a large sum of money on the table from the acquiring company.

Any other thoughts?

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    Hi CMH, welcome to The Workplace. As-is your question is very broad and will result in a whole host of suggestions, but no definitive answer to your question. Would you mind specifying what you're worried about so we can specifically addess your concerns? That would be great. – CMW Mar 13 '14 at 10:20
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    I think there is a good core to this question. I hope someone can edit it so we can get it reopened. You have 2 good answers now, I just do not want to see this question end up cluttered with a list of suggestions that are not helpful. – Chad Mar 13 '14 at 14:44
  • @CMH Thank you for adding some of your worries to this question. Unfortunately, what happens to your stock and vesting and what you can get out of it depends largely on what's in your contract and should be discussed with a lawyer. We can't give legal advice here. As you're still asking for 'other thoughts', the question is still extremely broad and not really narrowed to a specific topic. Maybe going through the existing answers and leaving a comment will further help us understand how these relate to your problem. – CMW Mar 13 '14 at 16:46
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Is there anything I need to ask or consider during my negotiation process based on the fact that they probably will soon be own by another company?

Very tricky situation.

You are being hired by one company, and one hiring manager. But you already know that there are big changes ahead. What you don't know is how all those changes will actually play out. You will at least end up working for a different company.

I've worked for several companies in the past that were acquired, and some that acquired other companies. After each acquisition, the nature of the company changed significantly. Some teams were let go completely (often "overhead" departments like accounting, marketing, etc, that were handled at the corporate level), some teams were moved to a different location, others stayed the same. Sometimes management changed. In one case I was working for a new boss who worked out of the home office in another state. The time frame for these changes ranged from immediately, to several years after the acquisition. For me at least, some of the things that made the job appealing earlier typically were gone.

Try as best you can to ask questions about the acquisition, and about the nature of the acquiring company. If they are allowed to tell you the name of the company that is acquiring them, do some searching. See if you can find out how the company typically deals with acquisitions - do they immediately let almost everyone go (keeping only the "essential" few), or do they run new acquisitions as separate divisions and leave them alone for at least a while?

Try to find out from your hiring manager what their expectations are for your specific team post-acquisition.

Try to find out if anything within your offer is subject to change, post-acquisition. Are you being hired under the old, pre-acquisition rules? Or under the new, post-acquisition rules?

The fact that you even know the company is being acquired is good. Often, companies cannot even divulge that fact until very near the end. On the other hand your use of the phrase "probably will soon", makes me wonder how much is definite here.

Here's something you might wish to read: https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/20357/a-coworker-beat-me-to-resignation-how-can-i-resign-in-a-professional-manner

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    Due to the totally unforseeable nature of the changes at this point, I would not consider taking a job at this stage unless I absolutely had no other options to keep a roof over my head. This is like buying a grab bag, you have no idea who your boss will be, what company policies and benefits will be, what process they will follow and even whether your job will survive the aquisition (most aquisitions end up shedding jobs at some point). Taking such a job is simply a highly risky thing. – HLGEM Mar 13 '14 at 12:59
  • @HLGEM - agreed, it is quite risky. Forrest Gump's mom would say it's "... like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get". It may end up well, or it may not. Many don't want to take that kind of risk when seeking a new job. – Joe Strazzere Mar 13 '14 at 14:43
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The best answer I can give is - be prepared for change.

There's no perfect question you can ask or assurance you can get prior to accepting the offer that will give you any particularly perfect security or sense of stability here. The company itself is going through a change of identity that can change how it will do business and even what the business is and how revenue is acquired. In the time of the acquisition your role within the company could change radically for better or worse, it could even be eliminated entirely.

If that type of uncertainty doesn't appeal to you - don't take the position.

If you are absolutely psyched about this job, the best thing you can do is to learn more about the business itself and see if you can make any educated bets about how your role will play into the changes in business strategy that will come with the acquisition.

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