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  • Writer's pictureMark Hartmann

One Counterintuitive Strategy Led to This $380 Million Payday

Close-up view of a dart hitting the bullseye on a dartboard, with a blurred background emphasizing the dart's precision and focus.

One Counterintuitive Strategy Led to This $380 Million Payday

When David Perry, a visionary entrepreneur, embarked on his video game company journey, he demonstrated his strategic foresight by filling a dartboard in his office with the names of potential acquirers for his future company, Gaikai. 

Why would a startup business, still in its infancy with no revenue or employees, be thinking about potential acquirers so early? For Perry, it was a testament to his deep understanding of the market and the importance of what he refers to as “down-the-track thinking.” 

Perry was recently interviewed about Sony’s $380 million acquisition of Gaikai, and he described his philosophy by using a moving train as an analogy. He described a train full of people representing an industry. Most people are comfortably inside the train, watching the countryside go by. Some people are scrambling behind the train, hoping to jump on. Then there are a select few people who are obsessing over where the train is going and are constantly thinking about the upcoming stops along their journey.

Perry described himself as one of the people thinking about where the train was going next, so it only made sense to him to have a list of businesses he could sell to. 

Sony was in the bullseye of Perry’s dartboard of companies to sell to, so his partner suggested they name their company Gaikai. This Japanese word roughly translates to “open sea,” Perry agreed. The word Gaikai is hard for the average English speaker to pronounce, but Perry knew the name would be irresistible to Sony. 

Perry and his partners went further, naming other parts of their product line with Japanese words and designing the company for the global gaming market, not just American customers, as was the habit of video game makers at the time. 

Years later, when Perry was ready to sell Gaikai, he approached all the big video game makers about buying his company. Sony, with its perfect cultural fit, was the most enthusiastic. They were thrilled to see the extent to which Perry and his partners had gone to make Gaikai align with Sony’s culture. 

Visualizing a shortlist of potential acquirers when you make critical decisions is an excellent way to vet your next move. Imagining how your potential acquirers would react to how you think of evolving your company can inspire a more strategic lens through which to make big bets. Whether you are looking to sell soon or are years away from selling, developing a shortlist of potential acquirers tomorrow will help you make better decisions today.

Mark Hartmann - CEO of HartmannRhodes

Mark Hartmann is a three-time Inc 500|5000 CEO with a rich sales, operations, and leadership background in the insurance, financial services, and healthcare sectors. With extensive experience growing and selling his own businesses, Mark leverages his expertise to help owners grow and sell businesses valued at $1M —$25M. He’s earned a master’s degree in organizational change management from St. Elizabeth University and a graduate certificate in executive coaching from Columbia University. Mark’s professional certifications include Certified Mergers and Acquisitions Professional (CM&AP), Certified Business Intermediary (CBI), Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), and Certified Value Builder (CVB).


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