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One Counterintuitive Strategy Led to This $380 Million Payday

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When David Perry started his video game company, he filled a dartboard in his office with the
names of companies he thought would want to buy his company, Gaikai, one day.

Why would a startup business with no revenue or employees be thinking about potential
acquirers so early? For Perry, it comes down to something he refers to as “down-the-track
thinking.”

Perry was recently interviewed about Sony’s $380 million acquisition of Gaikai, and he
described his philosophy by using a moving train as an analogy. He described a train full of
people representing an industry. Most people are comfortably inside the train watching the
countryside go by. There are some people scrambling behind the train, hoping to jump on. Then
there are a select few people who are obsessing over where the train is going and are
constantly thinking about the upcoming stops along their journey.

Perry described himself as one of the people thinking about where the train is going next, so it
only made sense to him to have a list of businesses he could sell to.

Sony was in the bullseye of Perry’s dartboard of companies to sell to so when his partner
suggested they name their company Gaikai, a Japanese word that roughly translates to “open
sea”, Perry agreed. The word gaikai is hard for the average English speaker to pronounce, but
Perry knew the name would be irresistible to Sony.

Perry and his partners went further and named other parts of their product line with Japanese
words and designed the company for the global gaming market, not just American customers,
as was the habit of videogame makers at the time.

Years later, when Perry was ready to sell Gaikai, he approached all the big video game makers
about buying his company, and Sony was the most enthusiastic. They were thrilled to see the
extent to which Perry and his partners had gone to make Gaikai fit Sony’s culture.

Visualizing a shortlist of potential acquirers when you make key decisions is a good way to vet
your next move. Imagining how your potential acquirers would react to hear how you are
thinking of evolving your company can inspire a more strategic lens through which to make big
bets. Whether you are looking to sell soon or are years away from selling, the process of
developing a shortlist of potential acquirers tomorrow will help you make better
decisions today.

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