Discussion paper

DP18376 Startup Acquisitions: Acquihires and Talent Hoarding

We study how competitive forces may drive firms to inefficiently acquire startup talent. In our model, two rival firms have the capacity to acquire and integrate a startup operating in a possibly orthogonal market. We show that firms may pursue such ``acquihires'' primarily as a preemptive strategy, even when these transactions appear unprofitable in isolation. Thus, acquihires, even absent traditional competition-reducing effects, need not be benign as they can lead to inefficient talent allocation. Additionally, our analysis underscores that such talent hoarding can diminish consumer surplus and exacerbate job volatility for acquihired employees.


Benkert, J, I Letina and S Liu (2023), ‘DP18376 Startup Acquisitions: Acquihires and Talent Hoarding‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18376. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18376