From start-up to acquisition: Implications of financial investment trends for small- to medium-sized high-tech enterprises


  • Kristin C Irwin University of Alabama
  • Collin M Gilstrap University of Toledo
  • Paul L Drnevich University of Alabama
  • Chance M Tudor University of Alabama


The high-technology (high-tech) industry is a dynamic environment defined by both frequent changes in composition and a concentration of market power through consolidation. Operating as a new or small venture within this environment poses many complex challenges, especially when considering the financial resources needed to be successful. In their efforts to obtain financial resources, entrepreneurs often overlook how the choice and pattern of investment funding to maintain a growth path can later affect a successful entrepreneurial exit. Exit via acquisition for small- to medium-sized technology enterprises (SMTEs) is a strong area of interest given firms in the U.S. high-tech industry experience the fastest growth rates and have been the target of over $400 billion in deal volume and 20% of all merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in the last twenty years. Much of this M&A activity is conducted by five prominent firms, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, commonly referred to as the Fearsome Five or the “FANGS”. However, as there has been only limited research examining this unique M&A context, in this study we explore the investment funding factors influencing exit via acquisition by the Fearsome Five. We highlight questions and potential concerns for SMTEs given the trends in financial investments and increasing market power.


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