An acquisition done primarily to acquire a company/startup’s human resource talent than to acquire the company’s product or service or technology. The product or technology is usually rolled up eventually. Usually, large firms buy start-ups and the founders/distinguished engineers are given top-level positions.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder has been quoted saying that his company does acqui-hiring than buying the company for the company itself. In December 2011, when reports suggested Facebook acquired location-based startup Gowalla, many analysts remarked that it was unclear whether it was an ‘acqui-hire’, or if Facebook was also interested in any of Gowalla’s technology. Most of Gowalla employees were to work for Facebook Timeline feature after the deal was finalized.
Other examples include Facebook acquiring FriendFeed and founder Brett Taylor became the CTO of Facebook. When Google bought Slide, it acquired talent – Max Levchin who was made the VP of Engineering.