Brian Breslin

Is foreign cash a boon for international startups?

bermuda dollar

More and more American companies are sitting on piles of cash overseas. Cash they are apprehensive to repatriate because they don’t want to get hit with US taxes on this revenue which in some cases could be as high as 35%. Apple famously is sitting on tens of billions of dollars in their foreign accounts. Microsoft and google too.


Microsoft used these foreign assets to buy Skype. Skype became a non-cash asset that was no longer taxed at the cash rate and was effectively bought at a discount as a result. I’m using the term discount loosely.


So the question is, if Google and other companies are sitting on these immense treasure troves of cash, is this a boon for foreign (non-US) startups? Waze was sold to Google last year, in a mostly stock deal, but the cash portion I’m sure came from Google’s overseas treasure chest. Who is shopping these companies around to the big players?


Should the US government allow a tax vacation to repatriate the money at a discounted tax rate? This could spur domestic acquisitions. Perhaps if they made the money conditional on being used for M&A or R&D purposes? Tons of startups could get snatched up quickly if there was more liquidity in the cash markets in the US. I don’t know how this influx of cash would affect the stock market though.


I’m not a finance expert by any means, but this seems like a smart option. What do you guys think?

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