Small but Mighty

Published on February 21, 2024

Michael Lieberman is an entrepreneur who founded Datastay, a software company that developed an application to help brake manufacturers and distributors catalog their models. Lieberman was able to create a very successful niche product that proved indispensable for parts manufacturers. This sticky value proposition made Datastay an attractive acquisition target for Autodesk, a much larger software company. 

Autodesk ended up acquiring Datastay for more than ten times its revenue, which was substantial considering Datastay only had 9 employees at the time. This impressive exit clearly demonstrates Lieberman's savvy as an entrepreneur and ability to create an extremely valuable business around a niche product.

In the provided text, Lieberman shares lessons from his experience negotiating and closing the acquisition of Datastay by Autodesk. He highlights key strategies like niche focus, protecting trade secrets during acquisition talks, spotting potential internal saboteurs, surviving due diligence, knowing when you've fully leveraged an acquirer, and properly communicating the deal to employees.

Some of Lieberman's key advice includes concentrating on a niche target customer to make yourself more valuable, being careful about revealing all your secrets too early in acquisition talks, looking out for employees who might undermine the deal to protect their own interests, preparing thoroughly for the due diligence process, pushing the acquirer as far as reasonable but knowing when you've maxed out the value, and handling the announcement of the sale sensitively with employees.

By providing these tips, Lieberman aims to help other entrepreneurs navigate the complex process of selling their company successfully. His specialized experience selling a niche software business makes him well qualified to advise others looking to exit their startup through an acquisition. Though Lieberman sold Datastay many years ago, in 2024 his advice remains highly relevant for founders and CEOs looking to get the maximum value for their business in an M&A deal.

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