Every startup founder at some point dreams about selling their company for a boatload of money.
That’s not a pipe dream in the Silicon Valley tech world, where billion-dollar acquisitions happen often.
But Virtustream CEO Rodney Rogers, who sold his company for $1.2 billion to EMC in 2015, says founders shouldn’t spend too much time thinking about selling if they really want to receive a home-run offer.
“You can’t build the company to sell it. Companies get bought, not sold,” Rogers told Business Insider.
Rogers says that he’s seen a lot of founders end up receiving suboptimal offers because they become so focused on an acquisition. And that attitude is more pervasive in the tech industry where the development cycles are so intense and getting shorter, he says.
Instead, Rogers believes founders should spend all their energy on building a great product and a company. Then, the billion-dollar offers will naturally follow, he says.
“If you’re just focused on building a great and enduring company, the outcome will make sense later,” he says.
Rogers says he continues to keep this mindset even after selling his cloud computing company to EMC last year. It’s why he’s made the company’s motto, “We die the customer,” in order to remind his employees about his every day obsession with customer satisfaction.
“‘We die the customer,’ that’s our phrase. It just means we think about the customer every day, ultimately what they need and how they need to be serviced,” he says.
Rogers’ advice may sound obvious, but it’s something that could serve as a wake-up call for a lot of startup founders in the US. According to a recent survey by Silicon Valley Bank, more than half of the US entrepreneurs want their startups to get acquired eventually:
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