San Franciscans were agog the other day when news that local patisserie chain La Boulange had been purchased by Starbucks broke, to the tune of a remarkable $100 million. Sure, we love our artisanal brioche and chocolate-hazelnut croissants as much as the next person, but that's a serious chunk of change. The purchase may ultimately end up being a good move for Starbucks, which needs to beef up its much-maligned pastry offerings to compete against McDonald's in the nation's great breakfast arms race, and it's certainly good news for La Boulange founder Pascal Rigo, who lived above the original Bay Bread on Pine Street for nine years and will now head up what could become America's newest chain of fast-casual restaurants.
The Starbucks deal will probably put a whole range of Bay Area small businesses on corporate America's radar, so we thought we might suggest some other killer SF acquisitions in the making-- purely for humorous purposes, of course.
The business: Ben & Jerry's
Should acquire: Humphry Slocombe
The Vermont ice-cream giants already stand accused of ripping off a flavor idea from our hometown dessert innovators; why not save the legal hassle by buying them out and appointing Jake Godby as Chief Dessert Scientist? For a company looking to rebuild its hippie cred after years of ubiquity, adding some Proscuitto and Foie Gras pints to grocery-store shelves could be a great way to get back in the headlines. Jesus Juice would make for a particularly interesting national rollout, forcing Fox News into a party-line Sophie's choice between "Jesus in a sorbet name? Sacrilege!" or "Alcohol in ice cream? Think of the children!"
The business: J.C. Penney
Should acquire: Good Vibrations
The runaway success of 50 Shades of Grey has proven that middle America (or at the very least, its soccer moms) is looking to mix things up in the bedroom. But with work, kids, and a busy schedule, the average couple doesn't have time to go shopping for the blindfolds and ropes they need for an E.L. James-worthy romp. Hiding a discreet, friendly little Good Vibrations pop-up in every J.C. Penney might go a long way towards saving America's marriages. A dildo in every pot!
The business: Google
Should acquire: All of SOMA
Tech companies have already begun to colonize it, so why not just hand the keys to SOMA over to Google? Give them five years, and they'll probably fill the whole space with self-brewing third-wave espressos, self-cleaning sidewalks, and those bikes that take 15 people to pedal. Plus, even the mighty Google might learn a little humility after attempting to make Muni run on time.
The business: Facebook
Should acquire: Instagram
Oh wait, that actually happened. Weird.
The business: Hershey's
Should acquire: The Dolores Park "Truffle Guy"
As chocolate prices have risen (and human-rights concerns about cacao farming have grown), Hershey's has replaced the cocoa butter in many of its products with vegetable oil, prompting outrage from chocolate purists. But we can't imagine anyone being too outraged about much of anything after consuming a package of locally farmed Hershey's Dolores Park Truffles. We're picturing a boardroom full of slumped-over suits with loosened neckties, watching cartoons on the projector. "Best business decision we ever made, man."
The business: Clear Channel
Should acquire: Frank Chu
They already own most of SF's billboards and bus shelters, but if Clear Channel was really paying attention, they'd know that the most successful advertiser in town wears sunglasses and is really upset about something having to do with 12 galaxies. (Or 95 million galaxies. Or 8 billion galaxies. It changes a lot.) Scott Beale already had the bright idea of co-opting Chu's sign to promote his site Laughing Squid, but we doubt Frank's really reaching his full advertising potential.
Ready to get your M&A on? Tell us which SF business you'd like to see snapped up (and who you'd like to see writing the check) in the comments.