I just got the 451 Group's summary on the top M&A bankers for 2007. As with 2006, Goldman Sachs was #1 on the list. Take a look:
Top five overall advisers, 2007
|Adviser||Deal value||Deal volume||2006 ranking|
Of course if you break down the numbers, you can see that the average deal size for all of these banks range from $1.75 to 2.75 billion. Let me translate back for the startup community. As I have written before, I am a firm believer that companies are bought, and not sold (see an earlier post). In other words, I am not a fan of hiring a banker to shop a company around but rather find it better when a portfolio company receives an unsolicited offer and you then bring a banker in to leverage that bid to create a more competitive situation. Assuming you are in this position, every startup I know says, "Let's go get Goldman or Morgan Stanley." While in theory we would all love to have these guys as advisors, the chances are that you are not going to get them on board. First, they typically have high minimum thresholds of exit value typically in the $300mm plus range and secondly even if you fit that criteria you may not get all of the attention you need since a $5 or $10 billion dollar will clearly trump yours. What I would advise is that you find a banker that has the recent experience selling companies in a price range that you are seeking, will give you the PERSONAL attention that you need to make the transaction successful, and has the network to reach out to the right people on a timely basis. Based on my experience, I have found that some of the firms like Thomas Weisel Partners and Jefferies Broadview who are not bulge bracket but with strong reputations in the technology markets can be a good fit. I am sure there are many other great firms that I am missing but you get the idea.