As we alluded to in a previous post, one of the hallmarks of a developed startup ecosystem is when unambiguous “exits” occur. In the United States, the main type of “exit” people think of is an Initial Public Offering (IPO). In reality, there are far more exits by way of acquisition than by way of IPOs. When one company buys another, it is a sign that the business model is sound and that there is room to expand its reach.
That’s why it was so interesting to hear that Idea.me (which we covered previously), an Argentine crowdsourcing platform, had moved to acquire Movere.me, a Brazilian company in the same niche. Movere had been successful in facilitating projects in film, video, music and video games, albeit at a small scale, and this gives Idea.me — which has made real progress in Mexico, Chile and Argentina — the ability to scale into a different linguistic and geographic market.
It’s probably best not to get too excited about this development, however. By their own reckoning, Idea.me has funded only about US$180,000 in projects throughout Latin America, and most of Movere’s projects weigh in around the US$5000-10,000 range, a far cry from the $200M+ volume Kickstarter, the gold standard for crowdsourcing, is doing (although it should be noted that competitor Indiegogo just facilitated funding of a Goddamn Tesla Museum to the tune of over a cool million).
Still, this is an encouraging development. The more companies that see acquisition (or aqui-hiring, as the practice of buying a company to get their talent is called) as a means of expansion that could theoretically later be converted to an “exit,” the more developed the ecosystem will become. And ultimately that will be what brings the virtuous circle of additional capital and more prosperous companies to Latin America.