2021’s WordPress Mega-Deal: Marieke van de Rakt on the Yoast Acquisition — Freemius

Why Was Yoast Put Up for Sale?

Neither of us enjoys HR or the finance part of running a business. So at the end of 2020, we decided, okay, we’re going to sell.

The First Step of Preparing for the Yoast Acquisition

Marieke van de Rakt — post-acquisition — in the role of Head of Strategy

Managing an Exit as a First-Time Seller

Numbers just aren’t my thing

If you have someone in your near environment that went through an acquisition process, that can help you, even if they sold a small company. They can tell you what kind of things will come at you — because a lot of things will come at you.

For the Yoast acquisition, we ended up with a construction without any earn-outs, which is really awesome and good for us.

Preparing Financial Models Before an Exit

Getting Help With the Legal Stuff

And we hired a lawyer — also external — to take care of the negotiations because you get these, well, endlessly long pieces of contracts and stuff. You don’t want to do that alone.

Calculating the Worth of Yoast

Suddenly, there were six different amounts of money, which were all similar actually. And of course, if you are doing a process with multiple buyers, that does something with the price and the speed of the process, because people will feel like, oh, more people want to buy.

[Bankers] just know how much money other plugins have made. And that makes it easier to see, oh, this is a good bid, or it isn’t.

Marieke’s Number One Dealbreaker for the Yoast Acquisition

For Yoast as a company, the product is most important, but for me, the employer, Yoast’s employees were the most important.

I think we would have had a hard time selling to a buyer that wasn’t invested in WordPress. So, that would have been a deal-breaker as well. There are companies out there that are direct competitors. If a potential buyer was planning to pull the Yoast SEO plugin from the repository on WordPress once they had bought us, that would be a dealbreaker too.

Finding Potential Buyers

And the Yoast acquisition winner is… (Source)

Selling to Newfold Digital

They didn’t have the highest bid, but they had a good bid with good conditions for us. And I particularly liked the fact that their leadership team consisted of five women and three men. In the boardrooms in this world, it’s pretty much a male-dominated situation. So that made them stand out as well. I think they’re really nice people.

“So long old friend”

How the Yoast Acquisition Impacted Company Culture

Working at Yoast During and After the Acquisition

So, it makes you take a step back and look at what you’ve built and see all the beautiful things that are in your company. I think it was really inspiring as well, and gave us a lot of ideas on how to grow further.

Marieke’s Future at Yoast

We’re also looking to help other WordPress entrepreneurs with getting those things up. So that’s something that I would love to do along with my job at Yoast.

I really enjoy writing and coming up with ideas and thinking about strategies, but not necessarily sitting in board meetings and talking about finances and KPIs.

Managing the Pressures of the Yoast Acquisition With a Family

Marieke and Joost with their four children (Source)

The Beneficiaries of WordPress Acquisitions

Marieke’s Top Advice for Exiting

My best piece of advice for people that are considering exiting is if you have a larger company, invest in a banker.

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Freemius

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Monetization & Insights platform for #WordPress #plugin #developers.