I was recently told that the NYC-based startup I work for might get acquired by a pretty massive company (think Microsoft, or Amazon). This sounds like great news but now I'm getting nervous:

I'm the most junior member of our engineering team. I'm the QA tester (although my contract lists me as "Junior Software Engineer", so I test the product manually and write automated tests. I'm still learning as I go, and the senior devs there have taken me under their wing, mentoring me through my position. If we do get acquired, I'm guessing our sales team will get axed, and possibly all our other roles that are non-engineering.

Given that I'm a QA tester, and that I don't actively contribute to the development of our product, I'm afraid that I will be the one member of the engineering team that might be let go if we're bought. The company buying us probably has their own QA department/team so they likely won't see the need for keeping an inexperienced dev.

Is this a likely scenario? Does anybody here have some experience from their past that might enlighten me? Thanks.

UPDATE(2019): We we acquired and I was taken along but switched to frontend work. They definitely did not need QA engineers there so I'm now a frontend developer at the company. Sales were all laid off. Our customer success team, and our product guy got to stay as well.

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    Impossible to say. You'd need a crystal ball to answer that question. Only your management or the acquiring company would be able to tell you. – Lilienthal Dec 4 '17 at 9:32
  • What is written in your contract? – Dupond Dec 4 '17 at 9:36
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    BTW - As a QU tester you do contributed to the development of the product – Ed Heal Dec 4 '17 at 9:41
  • I think there is a good chance that you will stay. It depends on your teamleader a lot I think. If he wants you to stay, then you will likely stay. You know things about the project, so you have advantage of this. New people will need to get familiar with project. – Will_create_nick_later Dec 4 '17 at 9:55
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    This may also be dependent on the jurisdiction you're in. – Jenny D Dec 4 '17 at 9:58

First of all, your job is ALWAYS at risk, at least in the US. Your job can disappear at any moment for a large variety of reasons. Hence it is good practice to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date and your professional network active and in good shape.

Every case is different, so it's hard to predict. However, you can do some work to learn more.

  1. Find out why the acquisition is happening and what the new owner wants out fo the deal. There are many possible reasons: want the technology, want some key people, bridge head into a new market or business, eliminate a competitor, prevent another big gun from doing the same thing, etc. Most of the time this is more or less public knowledge.
  2. Carefully read all communications. Most of the wording will hint at the general direction of where this will go
  3. Talk to other people in the company: your manager, your mentors. They may have more insight and gut feeling that they are willing to share.
  4. Look at past history of similar cases. What else did the new owner buy and what happened.

You won't get any certainty, but likely there is directional information available. In any case, make sure that your network and resume are up to date and active. There also no harm in stating your personal desire to your management. Some people consider an acquisition a good trigger point to leave, so management needs to figure out who may or may not stay around. Stating your preferences helps everyone.

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  • This is a fact First of all, your job is ALWAYS at risk, at least in the US. – Mister Positive Dec 6 '17 at 12:37

It's very hard to tell and you need to get some feedback from your manager who may offer you some reassurance, or might not know at all.

All you can really do more than this is put some investigation work into the larger company and see what their track history is regarding take-overs and whether they tend to strip or accumulate.

You might find that they simply buy the company, some processes get changed, and you'll be retained.

You might also find that they'll find duplicated roles/processes and that yours is one of them.

If you don't have a clear idea of what's going on, it seems prudent for you to start looking for other opportunities while you find out what's happening at your own company.

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