Negotiating company valuations is part art and science. Science (Excel sheets) can be helpful, but also dangerous in investor presentations. One risk is "salami slicing". I explain what this is in 2 examples

  • You email the full valuation Excel model that backs up your $95m valuation (cell D34 of the DCF worksheet) to the other side. Obviously this model is full of assumptions, and these assumptions are set with a seller's bias. The buyer can now take each of these assumptions one by one, nock them down a bit, and get an instant reduction visible in cell D34. Your own logic is being used against you. In M&A situations it is better to just exchange assumptions and let the other party stitch them together to a point estimate in their own model.
  • You are an extremely early startup and benchmark your valuation against an Internet giant on let's say a sales multiple. The salami slicing can now happen in multiple ways. You should correct the multiple downwards to compensate for some assets that facebook has, and you obviously do not have, or people can go back in time and see what facebook's valuation was when Mark just started out in his garage.

Watch out for the salami slicer.

Art:  Albert AnkerStill life Excess (1896)

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