Oct 18, 2018 Katja Toropainen
When asked about possible exit scenarios, most CEOs often comment: “we’re not for sale”. That is hardly ever true, and under the surface, many founders keep all possible options open. This is why the situation that played out with iZettle and PayPal was particularly interesting. iZettle had already announced plans to IPO, but the industry veteran entered the picture, and just weeks later the public got to hear of the biggest European M&A deal of the year.
iZettle, the 2010-founded, Stockholm-based fintech company providing a commerce platform for small businesses, has done what many B2B players only dream of. They battled through the early stages to find product-market fit and mass merchant adoption, and then went on to grow revenues for six consecutive years, up to a whopping $113 million in 2017.
The Swedish tech scene’s star had raised funding from some of the leading VCs in the industry, including Index Ventures, Northzone, and 83North. They were also highlighted in early 2018 by the press for “a potential IPO before the summer”.
However, what transpired through the following months was nothing short of exciting. PayPal entered discussions with the company and ultimately acquired it for $2.2 billion.
How in practice does a company such as PayPal enter the fray this close to a company’s IPO? Jacob and Bill had already known each other for some time, but how did they kick off the acquisition plan this fast and what were their initial thoughts about it? Do you need existing relationships, or can a situation such as this appear out of the blue? What are the behind-the-scenes discussions between the management team and the board of a company like when evaluating two such different options? Was this hard to decide, or was one option clearly better than the other?
We in the Slush team don’t have the answers to these questions, nor are we the experts at $2bn+ technology M&A. Nonetheless, we are certain Jacob and Bill can share some stories from along the way, and also help us understand what PayPal and iZettle are setting out to achieve together.
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