Kalzumeus Podcast Episode 13: Selling Online Businesses With Thomas Smale


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By Patrick McKenzie. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

I sold Bingo Card Creator, the business I’m probably best known for, through FEI last year. Thomas Smale, the principal of that brokerage, is now a buddy of mine, and he agreed to chat with me a bit about what goes into buying and selling online businesses. I think it is of particular interest to those of you with SaaS businesses already, but it might also be interesting for those of you who might found one eventually, as you can make early decisions (like e.g. technology stack) which built improved saleability into the business from day one.

I’ve previously written about the BCC acquisition here. Note that this interview doesn’t go into much depth about that acquisition per se, partially because that isn’t a new topic for me and partially because I’m NDAed with regards to specifics.

[Patrick notes: As always, the below transcript occasionally has my thoughts inserted in this format.]

What you’ll learn in this podcast:

  • Why SaaS businesses (and others with recurring revenue) receive a valuation premium
  • Why you should use a broker to sell a business
  • How to start getting a business ready for sale months before the process formally starts
  • How to ease the acquisition process, both for the buyer and the seller

Selling Online Businesses With Thomas Smale

Patrick McKenzie: Hideho everybody. My name is Patrick McKenzie, better known as Patio11 on the Internets. I’m here for the 13th episode of the Kalzumeus Podcast with my friend Thomas Smale, who runs FEI. It’s a brokerage for online businesses, which I used last year to sell Bingo Card Creator.

Thomas Smale: Hi, Patrick. Thanks so much for having me on.

Patrick: Thomas, last year, you helped me sell Bingo Card Creator, which was the first business that I had been running from about 2006 through 2015 selling bingo cards over the Internet to elementary school teachers. Do you guys do a lot of work with SaaS companies?

Thomas: In the last 12 months, just to put it in perspective, we did about 80 deals, and this year, we’re on track to do around 100 deals. At the moment, around a third of our business is in the SaaS or software space. It’s not all we do, but it is quite a big focus internally.

Patrick: Just out of curiosity, what are the other sort of businesses that you guys see a lot?

Thomas: If we broke it down a third, a third, a third, to keep it quite simple, we do e-commerce businesses, selling on Amazon or Amazon FBA. E-commerce through their own store would be about another third. Then the third content businesses, whether that’s content-based sites monetized with AdSense or Amazon affiliates, they’ve gotten quite popular, especially on the lower end.

Then we also have a mixture of other businesses we do. Generally speaking, if it’s an online-based business, we will take a look at it.

Patrick: One...

For the full transcript see here.

16 episodes