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Acquisition Process

This is a detailed view of our acquisition process. For more information about our acquisitions approach visit our acquisitions handbook.

Acquisitions Deal Funnel

The corporate development team conducts a comprehensive screening of our industry ecosystem in order to identify potential acquisition opportunities. Below is an overview of our target funnel.

Funnel Volume / Year
Pipeline Building  
DevOps ecoystem companies 15,000+
Sourced Pipeline: generate pipeline of companies operating in a DevOps segment relevant for GitLab from three sources: 1,000
–> 1. Third-party databases 800
–> 2. Inbound (companies approach us or PMs refer us) 100
–> 3. Pro-active (Identify key areas with Product leadership) 100
Prioritized Pipeline 400
–> Review funding status, headcount and headquarters location  
–> Prioritize potential softlanding deals (<$1M deal consideration) in countries without GitLab hiring restrictions  
–> Prioritize by product priority  
Exploratory  
Reach out for intro calls 400
Intro calls with priority targets 300
Qualified Pipeline: Share relevant call summary with product management lead to confirm interest in setting up initial call between product management lead and company 100
Product and Tech Call 50
Early diligence  
Early Diligence, Team Interviews, Business Case 30
Confirmatory due diligence  
Signed Term Sheet / Confirmatory Due Diligence 15
Integration  
Deal Signing, Closing & Integration 10

Acquisition process

The process is comprised of four key stages:

  1. Pipeline Building
  2. Exploratory
  3. Early Diligence
  4. Confirmatory Due Diligence
  5. Integration

Pipeline Building

  1. Sourcing: The corporate development team closely collaborates with GitLab's product leadership to identify key areas for potential M&A. We source acquisition opportunities ("Sourced Pipeline") from:
    1. Ecosystem screen with the help of third party databases such as Crunchbase
    2. Inbound introductions from GitLabbers and industry contacts
    3. Proactive outreach to companies aligned with our vision and strategic priorities

Exploratory

  1. We prioritize companies that fit with our product and acquisition priorities ("Prioritized Pipeline") and reach out to their leadership to set up intro calls.
  2. Intro calls: The purpose of this 30-min call is to learn more about the potential target company and assess if further acquisition discussions make sense. The agenda for the call is as follows:
    1. Company overview including team, products, financials, and funding
    2. Discuss which features could accelerate GitLab's roadmap
    3. Review the GitLab acquisition process including deal terms, as appropriate (acquisitions handbook)
      • TARGET TEAM: Ahead of this call please review our roadmap and outline which of your current and future product features can be implemented into GitLab's product categories. Outline a simple integration timeline for those features, considering an MVC release on the first month after joining GitLab and monthly releases following with quick iterations.
  3. Share call summary (Initial Acquisition Review Template, a GitLab internal document) of companies that are aligned with GitLab's acquisition strategy ("Qualified Pipeline") with relevant product lead.
    • Create a new, private Slack channel (format: #acq-company_name) and add the internal GitLab document to the top. Add EVP Product and the relevant product and engineering leaders to help with the initial assessment of the opportunity.
  4. If product management lead sees a potential strategic fit and wants to proceed, set up initial product and tech call to learn about the product (demo, roadmap), technology and team. Discuss which features could be built into GitLab and into which GitLab product stage.
  5. Initial internal review: preliminary assessment of product and technology fit of the potential opportunity to GitLab's product roadmap as well as integration options into GitLab. If the product lead is supportive of moving forward towards developing a more in depth business case, confirm whether the proposed acquisition can be funded with planned headcount allocations. Otherwise, set up a discussion with EVP Product before proceeding with further diligence.

Early Diligence

  1. Select code name to use instead of target company name. Update Slack channel: #acq-code_name.
  2. Sign a mutual NDA as linked on our legal handbook page.
  3. Form the acquisition team.
  4. Confirm internal acquisition champion - every acquisition needs a lead champion; someone who is advocating for the acquisition, helping drive the acquisition rationale, and seeing its successful integration. For most acquisitions that fit our approach, the champion will come from GitLab's Product team, at the Director level, accompanied by an engineering champion from the GitLab's Engineering team, at the Director level, respectively. For other acquisitions, champions may come from other internal functions.
  5. Preliminary financial & legal diligence - list of preliminary documents to share with GitLab:
    1. Financials
    2. Tax returns
    3. Employee roster with: employee name, title, role, tenure, years of experience, location, salary, LinkedIn profile, programming languages proficiency
    4. Employee resumes
    5. Employee agreements and PIAA
    6. Customer list with name, monthly revenue, contract termination date and any other fields if relevant.
    7. Vendor list with monthly spend
    8. Asset list:
      • Any assets that are needed for the business and will be part of the acquisition
      • Assets excluded from the acquisition
  6. Early technical diligence:
    1. In case the target company has open source components, the respective Dir. Engineering (dependent on GitLab stage) will start an early code review to determine: code quality, development practices, contributions and more. That should be turned around within 2-3 business days.
    2. Hands-on product and code screen-share session (2 hours): the technical lead, as assigned by the respective Dir. Engineering, together with the respective Dir. Product will lead a screen-share session aimed at a hands-on validation of the product functionalities and an overview of the code.
    3. Founder technical interviews - founders will go through two rounds of interviews to assess technical and cultural alignment.
  7. Resume review - Review of all employee resumes
  8. Compensation review to identify any gaps and possible flags led by the HR Business Partner
  9. Optional interviews for the key technical employees - to increase the success rate of the deal post-Term Sheet, we recommend conducting interviews for the key technical employees identified before signing the Term Sheet. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of personnel gaps becoming a blocker during the Confirmatory Due Diligence stage. The interviews will include a technical interview and a manager interview as detailed in the Confirmatory Due Diligence stage below.
    1. The key technical employees are those identified as critical to the success of the acquisition, the proposed integration plan and the future of the team at GitLab post integration.
  10. Product integration strategy: the GitLab product and engineering acquisition champions will formalize the integration strategy with a focus on feature sets/functionalities:
    1. What we keep as-is
    2. What we reimplement in GitLab
    3. What we discard/EOL
    4. What is critical for user migration
    5. Target product tiers in GitLab
    6. Barriers for implementation
    7. Deal Milestones:
      1. Typically we aim to set 3-4 milestones, to provide a concise set of goals which should cover the bulk of our product interest in the target company
      2. Integrated within 6 months:
        1. 6 months is an optimal timeframe which allows for incremental integration of the target's functionality, covering its entirety at best or its fudemantals at the very least, while not being overly extended. We would want to refrain from using a longer time frame as our roadmap priorities may change such that we could potentially find ourselves abandoning certain milestones, negating some or all of the rationale behind the deal.
        2. Will help establish focus on both acquired target and our product team
        3. Be able to complete payouts to the target's entity and shut it down sooner
      3. First milestone shipped within 30 days of joining GitLab:
        1. Critical to adopting our culture and successful future integration of the target's engineering team in GitLab
        2. Allows us to show early fruits of the acquisitions soon, aligned with our value of iteration
  11. To determine the deal ROI, the acquisition team will perform the analysis using the cost-revenue acquisition calculator (internal GitLab document). Make a copy of the master cost-revenue acquisition calculator file and save it in the relevant project folder in Google Drive before making changes to the file.
  12. Presenting the business case for approvals (by order of occurence):
    1. Champions' approval: The acquisition team will review the business case together and approve the suggested deal. This includes approval of all the following:
      1. Complete executive summary (with link to term sheet draft) including budget and headcount allocation for the acquisition
      2. Complete businees case (templates for both) including Deal Milestones
      3. Complete term sheet (template) draft with proposed details (asset payment, retention bonuses, Deal Milestones, closing schedule, customer termination and closing conditions) filled in.
    2. Functional approvals: The corporate development acquisition lead, Dir. Product and Dir. Engineering will present the business case for acquisition to the EVP Product and EVP Engineering. They will review to approve the items listed in the Champions' approval (complete: executive summary, business case, term sheet)
    3. CEO, CFO and CLO approvals: The corporate development acquisition lead, Dir. Product and Dir. Engineering (deal champions) will present the business case for acquisition to the CEO, CFO and CLO. This meeting will also capture the explicit approval of the term sheet to start negotations.
      1. Approval of term sheet to start negotiations will be tracked in a term sheet approval issue. We don't include any financial and milestone information in the approval tracking issue for confidentiality reasons.
  13. Term Sheet:
    1. Once the terms to start negotations have been approved, the corporate development acquisition lead will reach out to the target company to share the offer and term sheet.
    2. Once an agreement on terms with the target has been reached, the term sheet (with any changes) will be brought forward for approval from: CLO, CFO, CEO (in that order). These approvals will be captured in the term sheet approval issue.
    3. Once all approvals have been obtained, the corporate development acquisition lead will stage the term sheet for signing on HelloSign for target CEO and GitLab CEO (in that order). Add CLO, CFO, and EVP Product on Cc on the agreement.
      1. Approval tracking will be tracked on the term sheet approval issue mentioned earlier. Any changes to previously-approved terms need to be reviewed and approved once more by the following: Dir. Product, Dir. Engineering, EVP Product, EVP Engineering, CLO, CFO, CEO. The changes should be referenced on the term sheet approval tracking issue before seeking approvals.

Confirmatory Due Diligence

  1. To kick-off the Due Diligence stage, the corporate development acquistion lead emails the target company CEO with the following clarifications and information requests:
    1. All employees and their profiles will be reviewed by the GitLab team
    2. The employees who will be invited for interviews will go through GitLab's standard interview process
    3. Key employees who were interviewed during the Early Diligence stage may go through further interview rounds as determined by the GitLab team to qualify for a role at GitLab
    4. All employees must identify an open vacancy at GitLab which they think best matches their professional profile. This will be shared in a spreadsheet gathered by the target's CEO.
  2. Complete Technical diligence
  3. Complete financial & legal diligence
  4. The progress of the diligence will be synced on a regular stand-up call with the acquisition team
  5. The corporate development acquisition lead and the legal lead negotiate the definitive deal documentation with the target company CEO and legal team
  6. Final review and approval:
    1. Recap call - Final internal review call with the acquisition team to recap the acquisition as a whole and present a final recommendation
    2. CEO approval - Log the approval from CEO over email, with cc to our CLO (Chief Legal Officer)
    3. BoD approval - Legal to seek final deal approval from GitLab's Board of Directors
  7. The corporate development acquisition lead will coordinate the signing and closing of the deal

Integration

The Corporate Development team is responsible for overseeing and facilitating the integration of the acquisition post-closing, working closely with Legal, Product, Engineering, and Finance. The DRI for the integration stage is the Dir. Corporate Development. This will consist of several aspects and best practices:

  1. Operational shutdown (if appropriate):
    1. Execution of customer sunset plans
    2. Shutdown of target company and its entities
  2. Alignment on objectives and goals:
    1. Incorporate the integration plan into GitLab's roadmap
    2. Introduce Deal Milestones into respective departmental OKRs
    3. Create or update product vision in case a new product area is added to GitLab
  3. People & Culture:
    1. Cultural integration plan, analyzing similarities and differences in the two companies' cultures
    2. Onboarding of acquired team members
  4. Performance tracking:
    1. Identify and continuously revisit business performance metrics to track the deal's added value and ROI over time
    2. Delivery against product plans and OKRs

Acquisition Team

An acquisition team will consist of the following GitLab functional team members:

  1. Dir. Corporate Development - acquisition lead
  2. Dir. Product Management
  3. Product Manager
  4. Dir. Engineering
  5. Engineering team member
  6. Finance / accounting team member
  7. Legal team member
  8. HR Business Partner

To assign the product manager, after the product call or as soon as it's clear which product category the features will be implemented into, contact the category product director for the assignment.

To assign the engineering team member, contact the engineering manager of the relevant category for assignment.

Acquisition Team Responsibilities

Function Role Deliverables
Corporate Development 1. Main POC for acquired team 1. Identify potential areas for integration 1. Create case for acquisition and customer transition story 1. Integration 1. Business case with deal structure
Product 1. Outline current product features to be implemented into GitLab 1. Outline potential future functionalities to be built into GitLab after the integration period 1. Integration strategy
Engineering 1. Technical diligence 1. Code quality review 1. Integration strategy validation - feasibility and timeline
Finance 1. Lead financial diligence 1. Validate business case and deal structure  
Legal 1. Review entity, assets and existing agreements 1. Evaluate sunset and customer transition path 1. Term Sheet 1. Acquisition agreement
HR Business Partner 1. Lead the compensation review 1. Lead the interview process during the early and due diligence stages to completion  

Acquisitions Are Confidential

At GitLab, we treat all acquisition discussions as confidential and share any information internally on a need-to-know basis. If you're part of an acquisition Slack channel, Google Doc, or other internal GitLab discussion and would like to invite another GitLab team member to one of those, please confirm with the acquisition lead before doing so.

To ensure confidentiality during the acquisition process, we assign code names to each potential transaction once we enter the Early Diligence stage. Everyone involved in the project should use the code name in place of the actual company name in all communication about the deal until it is publicly announced.