eBay Disrupts the M&A Advisory Market
Posted under Technology Investment


Mergers & Acquisitions professionals have food for thought as Kiko, the web2.0 calendar application, sold itself on eBay for $238,000. The sale of Kiko to Tucows cost $3800 in eBay's intermediary fees, 1.5% of the transaction value.

Many M & A boutiques have traditionally advised technology companies in fund raising, acquisitions and exits just like Kiko's.

Arthur Anderson (now Accenture), Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Young made a furious trade as acquisition advisers during the 2000 boom. Not to mention the lucrative IPO advisory. Though not the most expensive advisers, I repeatedly paid said consultants six figure sums for advise through acquisition and sale transactions. And the IPO consultancy typically cost well into seven and eight figure sums.

Even nowadays, the standard fee for "creating a market" for raising funds for a company is an upfront fee typically in the thousands, and a minimum percent or two of the transaction value.

M&A consultants and startup advisories were harshly hit by the 2000 dot com crash. Many boutiques have closed down, and the remaining have moved on to advising the private equity market. But the hits keep on coming.


First Google dis-intermediated much of its IPO underwriting through its use of the Dutch auction technique. Rather than the banks creating a market of buyers and sellers pre-IPO to ensure a good volume on the IPO, Google used an electronic buy-sell market for part of the sale instead. Naturally, the traditional IPO underwriting banks were aghast at Google's snub of their service.

Similarly, Kiko has used eBay to sell 100% of its equity. Though the value involved is low by M&A standards, the ease and success in creating a liquid equity market with hundreds of bidders spells more dis-intermediation for the M&A advisory boutiques.

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