Austin Z. Henley

I work on AI + developer tools.

Home | Publications | Teaching | Blog

Acquired in 99 days


I joined an existing startup as CTO. We were acquired 99 days later.

I already spent time in academia and in big tech, so the logical next step was to work at a startup.

The company I joined was a goldilocks opportunity. I knew the team, I had consulted for them before, they were profitable, they had runway, they had happy customers, and they wanted to innovate.

After several months of talking to the co-founders and investors, I joined as the CTO to lead product and engineering, to grow the team, and to release new products. Our goal was to prepare the company to be sold within 18 months.

We did it in 99 days.

Shortly after I joined, another company expressed interest in us. My CEO and I flew to San Francisco to meet their leadership team.

Then came 8 weeks of meetings, due diligence, and preparing for the transition.

Meanwhile, we were running the company as if none of this was happening. I instituted some much needed engineering process, formulated a product roadmap that everyone was excited to work on, dived deep into our financials and customer data, kept in communication with key investors, experimented with ways to re-engage users, and began recruiting to grow the team.

The team made notable leaps in a very short time. Our revenue and product velocity were trending upwards. Everyone seemed excited about the work. Users kept coming back. It was great. Most of the team wasn't even aware that the acquisition process was going on.

And then, the acquisition closed.