What is the Structure of the Typical SaaS Company as it Scales?

Tomasz Tunguz

This post is part of a series leading up to SaaS Office GTM Edition on June 24 in which we’re reviewing the results of the 2020 Redpoint GTM survey. CMOs in SaaS companies head 35% of companies in the $20-50M ARR range, 40% at $50-100M and 53% at $100M+.

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Insightful Study of 386 SaaS Startup Pricing Pages

OnStartups

Late last year, I combed through the Montclare SaaS 250 — a directory of the biggest SaaS companies in the world — to find common trends in what I thought would be a significant dataset. As it turned out, 80% of the 250 biggest SaaS companies didn’t have a pricing page at all.

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Secret To SaaS Success: Recognize That You're Not Selling Software

OnStartups

Many software companies are now Software as a Service (SaaS) companies. Now, naive folks that are new to SaaS often make the mistake of thinking they're still selling software. SaaS = Success as a Service. HubSpot is a textbook SaaS company.

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The Rising Stakes in SaaS

Tomasz Tunguz

Last week, I participated in two discussions about the changes in the SaaS world. The level of competition in many core SaaS segments is intense. The SaaS era is about 20 years old. Over that 20 year period, annual SaaS investment has increased 20x, peaking in 2014 at $7B. This sea of SaaS startups have reshaped the market. SaaS company formation has fallen by 44% in the last 3 years. I’m using SaaS seed rounds as a proxy metric.

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Debt Financing Fuels Your Growth - on Your Terms. Zero Dilution.

The landscape of startup financing is changing. Learn why SaaS founders are turning to debt capital options like revenue-based financing.

7 Predictions for SaaS in 2018

Tomasz Tunguz

Several landscape altering SaaS acquisitions will come to fruition because of cash availability from repatriation and because there are enough public SaaS companies at scale to add material revenue and market cap to buyers. The SaaS fundraising market remains ebullient through 2018 as vibrant M&A and an open IPO window trigger substantial liquidity for shareholders. Below are 7 predictions about the startup software ecosystem. How many of them do you agree with?

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SaaS Fundraising in 2017

Tomasz Tunguz

When I analyzed the SaaS fundraising market in 2016 , three trends emerged. The number of SaaS companies raising rounds had stalled, while the total number of dollars plateaued. A year later, those trends have continued to converge, and SaaS valuations have resurged, reaching their highs of the 2014-2015 boom. In contrast to these seemingly monotonic increases in round sizes, the total amount of SaaS fundraising peaked in 2015 at $4.2

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Backing Radformation: How Many Physicists Does it Take to Build a SaaS Company?

This is going to be BIG.

Long gone are the days when NYC was just a place to build a fintech company or an ad platform. In the first half of 2018, we saw Flatiron Health’s $1.9 Billion acquisition, Quentis Therapeutics picking up $48 million in financing, and Paige.ai raising $25 Million--all to fight cancer. Making cancer treatment easier to plan for clinicians was the goal of a founding team of three physicists who cold e-mailed me around New Years.

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Just Where Are SaaS Companies Priced After the 2018 Correction?

Tomasz Tunguz

Just where are we pricing SaaS companies today? The answer is yes, they have, but enterprise value to forward revenue multiples are still at some of the highest levels for SaaS companies in the past eight years. Reading the news in the past week made me wonder.

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Has SaaS Become Commodified?

Tomasz Tunguz

A founder asked me if we had reached the point that SaaS is commodified. “Can you build a venture scale SaaS company anymore?” First, the technology barriers to starting a SaaS company continue to fall. Whether it’s Predictable Revenue written by Aaron Ross or Mark Roberge’s The Sales Acceleration Formula, or others, authoritative texts describe step by step how to structure, manage and measure a SaaS sales team.

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Where are We in the SaaS Valuation Cycle?

Tomasz Tunguz

Recently, people have been asking just where are we in the SaaS valuation cycle. Since 2013, we seen an incredible amount of volatility in SaaS forward multiples. Since that moment, SaaS multiples have more than doubled from to 7.2x. SaaS is winning ever greater marketshare across all these segments. I last updated the chart above more than six months ago. The answer is close to ten year highs.

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How Much Should A SaaS Startup Invest in Sales & Marketing?

Tomasz Tunguz

How much should a SaaS startup invest in sales and marketing at different stages of the business? Another way to answer this question is to use at Pacific Crest’s SaaS survey to build a bottoms up model. This growth rate is not representative of most SaaS companies, but I wanted to see whether the bottoms of model would yield a much more aggressive sales and marketing spend plan than that observed in the public markets.

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Mitigating Myopia in SaaS Marketing

Tomasz Tunguz

As a SaaS startup scales from finding initial product market fit to building its go to market organization, one of the most important goals in building that go to market organization is developing a multifaceted marketing team. Marketing’s role in SaaS sales has expanded to the success of SaaS companies as customers prefer to educate themselves more than they have in the past. Many early stage SaaS companies focus on a single channel of customer acquisition at the outset.

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The SaaS Valuation Bubble

Tomasz Tunguz

The value of publicly traded SaaS companies has grown by 200 to 400% while the underlying customer unit economics of those businesses hasn’t changed. Below is a chart of the ratio between enterprise value to revenue for two segments of SaaS companies. The All Segment contains 36 publicly traded SaaS companies. From about 2004 to 2011, the average publicly traded SaaS company held an EV/Rev multiple of 3 to 5x.

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Why Churn Rates Can Spike When Your SaaS Startup Experiences Hypergrowth

Tomasz Tunguz

If your SaaS business is growing really fast, and you’re wondering why churn is growing despite high NPS (net promoter score) or other metrics, this is why In Rethinking Customer Churn Rate & LTV/CAC , Thibaud Clement illuminates a counter-intuitive concept about churn. The faster you increase your growth rate (acceleration rate), the higher the churn rate.

The Innovator's Dilemma for SaaS Startups

Tomasz Tunguz

See also: Innovator’s Solution for SaaS Startups. There’s a familiar path now to SaaS companies that start in the SMB (small-to-medium business) part of the market. Rather than invest several years to build an enterprise product broad enough to compete, many SaaS startups focus on the SMB part of the market. Over time, they seem to inevitably begin serving larger customers. Box, Hubspot, Zendesk and among many others have exhibited this pattern.

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The ROI of Cash Burn for SaaS Startups

Tomasz Tunguz

SaaS customers are annuities. In 2016, SaaS multiples fell 57% from their highs. What should be the return on investment of a startup’s cash burn? Fred Wilson posed this question last year in his post Some Thoughts on Burn Rates. In that post, he suggests, and I agree, that a 5x ROI on cash burn is a good target. How does one calculate ROI? It’s a simple formula: Cash_Burn_ROI = Revenue_Multiple/Revenue_Pay_Back_in_Years 1.

Important Changes in Revenue and Profitability Definitions for SaaS Companies

Tomasz Tunguz

Normally, accounting changes are not that interesting, but ASC 606 will change several of the key attributes and benchmarks SaaS startups use. Net income will increase markedly each quarter and may push many SaaS companies from a median -10% net income to a figure much closer to zero. Starting in January, public software companies will report their financials using ASC 606.

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The Compression in SaaS Valuations

Tomasz Tunguz

In 2015, SaaS companies trade at a 30% lower multiple of revenue than last year. In early 2014, the typical SaaS company traded at about 9.2x Almost every public SaaS company has seen multiple compression. But I wonder if this slow decline will impact prices in pre-IPO rounds and later stage growth rounds for SaaS companies. “Structure” as it’s called in industry parlance, has been a feature of several rounds in the most recent SaaS IPOs.

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The AI Agency - A Novel GTM for Machine Learning SaaS Startups

Tomasz Tunguz

In 2015, I wrote about the trade-off facing vertical SaaS companies. Vertical SaaS companies focus their efforts on a particular group of customers. There is a new twist in SaaS with a parallel dynamic. Procore targets construction with their software and Veeva targets pharmaceuticals with their CRM. This concentration limits the market size, but improves product market fit. Both of those businesses are now worth more than $3B.

How Healthy is the SaaS IPO Market?

Tomasz Tunguz

More than 15% of all software revenue is now generated by software as a service companies, and there are more than 50 publicly traded SaaS companies today. After more than a decade of reinvention, I was curious how healthy the IPO market is for SaaS companies. According to the data, 2016 has the potential to be the worst SaaS IPO year in six. The chart above plots the number of SaaS IPOs. In gross dollar terms, SaaS companies raised more than $1.5

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When to Increase Your SaaS Startup's Burn

Tomasz Tunguz

SaaS startups often find themselves in one of three different states when contemplating their burn rate. The more complicated state is the one in between, and that is the one that most SaaS startup operate within. You have a SaaS startup. This is not a comprehensive list, but a collection of different scenarios that I’ve come across when meeting with founders of SaaS startups.

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The Next Era in SaaS

Tomasz Tunguz

Vik Singh wrote a great post in VentureBeat last week titled “ Why Salesforce Needed to Buy RelateIQ ” in which he talks about a new era in SaaS, the Predictive Era, the era of intelligent software. It’s no longer sufficient in most horizontal SaaS categories to provide a cloud-based alternative with similar features to traditional software incumbents. As a result, predictive SaaS companies can easily access this data.

Sales Efficiency Benchmarks for SaaS Startups

Tomasz Tunguz

One number investors use to benchmark SaaS startups across sectors and industries is sales efficiency. Below are the sales efficiency benchmarks for the approximately 20 publicly traded SaaS companies calculated on an annual basis by years since founding.

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The SaaS Correction of Late 2019

Tomasz Tunguz

Last week, SaaS stocks fell by about 18% on average. The chart above shows the most recent enterprise value to forward multiple for a basket of next-generation software companies. The red line is the value and the blue line is the median over the same time frame.

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Series A SaaS Startup Benchmarks for 2018

Tomasz Tunguz

How far along was the typical SaaS Series A in 2018? The chart below shows a representative sample of SaaS Series As’ ARR and projected ARR growth rate for 2018. In 4 years, we’ve seen a 4x increase in the median MRR of a Series A SaaS company.

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The Rising Table Stakes in SaaS

Tomasz Tunguz

Christoph Janz , one of the best seed stage SaaS investors, published a great tweetstorm on the state of the SaaS ecosystem yesterday. The mechanics of SaaS startups are becoming better and better understood as the community and sites like Jason Lemkin’s SaaStr and David Skok’s For Entrepreneurs and Christoph’s own blog curate the stories, explain the complexity and reveal the metrics behind the fastest growing SaaS companies of our time.

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The Keys to Selling Enterprise SaaS in Real Estate

Dream It

In this DreamitLive, Urbantech Managing Director Andrew Ackerman speaks with StringBean founder and CEO Reuben Levine about the do’s and don’ts of selling into real estate, including how to get into the mind of the buyer, how to de-risk your product to increase the likelihood of making a sale, and how to pursue product-led growth.

The SaaS Marketing Scorecard - How Does Your Marketing Operation Rank?

Tomasz Tunguz

The 9 Disciplines of Great SaaS Companies remains one of the most popular posts on marketing on this blog. It’s a wonderful framework by Bill Macaitis, who was the CMO at Zendesk and Slack.

The SaaS Valuation Environment in Mid-2019

Tomasz Tunguz

Every six months or so, I take a look at how the public markets are valuing next-generation software companies. There’s been quite a bit of volatility over the last five years, and this update is no exception. As of mid-June, the public markets value software companies at all-time highs.

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What SaaS Startups Miss in User Onboarding

Tomasz Tunguz

Over dinner, a veteran product manager argued most SaaS products’ onboarding practices miss a crucial step: create value for the user in the first session. After that conversation, I signed up for many brand-name SaaS products pretending it was for the first time, and I couldn’t help but agree with him. Most SaaS products guide a user through three steps. While this may be the state-of-the-art for most SaaS startups, it’s not enough to optimize the funnel.

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Benchmarking Exceptional Series A SaaS Companies

Tomasz Tunguz

At SaaStr 2016 and SaaS Office Hours in New York , I shared an analysis of the fastest growing SaaS companies over the last 3 years. Benchmarking Exceptional Series A SaaS Companies from Tomasz Tunguz. These are the key bullet points from the deck about exceptional SaaS companies. This analysis considers only a small fraction of the total number of SaaS companies. Consequently, there are three major themes of 2016 for the Series A SaaS market.

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Why Startups Face Increasing Competition In Raising Series As And Bs

Gust

Invested Interests content marketing saas Startup Funding startup management By Tomasz Tunguz , Partner at Redpoint Ventures. Has it become harder to raise money? is a question I hear all the time. On one hand, the total dollars invested by VCs is relatively flat at just under $30B per year, according to the NVCA. On the other hand, the stories of difficulty raising series As and Bs have become a steady drumbeat.

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The State of the SaaS Fundraising Market

Tomasz Tunguz

In a recent survey, 40% of VCs pointed to SaaS as the startup sector most likely to be impacted by a market correction. There’s no question that the early stage SaaS founders are benefiting from substantial multiple expansion and pre-money valuation increases. The typical SaaS/software company raised a $1.1M But I was curious about how widespread aggressive investments are in software companies.

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The Decline of New SaaS Company Formation

Tomasz Tunguz

Second, the key systems of record in SaaS are already in place. We haven’t really seen a discontinuity of the magnitude SaaS presented to server/client, yet. Machine learning in SaaS is nascent. The rate of new software company formation seems to have declined materially in the past few years. In 2011-2013, about 1450 software companies were founded each year on average. In 2014, that figure fell to 1186 and in 2015, we count 481.

The Challenge Facing Mobile-First SaaS Companies

Tomasz Tunguz

But the distribution advantages of mobile app stores hasn’t been observed as powerfully in SaaS or enterprise software for driving revenue. The difference between consumer and the SaaS startups’ effectiveness leveraging mobile app store distribution hinges on the end user. In SaaS, the end user is very infrequently the buyer. This second step, at least to date, has been the limiting factor in using mobile-app distribution to drive SaaS company growth.

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Vertical SaaS Startups Require Different Go To Market than Horizontal SaaS Companies

Tomasz Tunguz

Vertical SaaS requires a different go-to-market than horizontal SaaS companies. Vertical software companies, a recent important trend in SaaS startups, pursue customers only in a particular industry. Because vertical SaaS companies limit their potential market size by focusing on just one type of customer, they must employ a differentiated strategy to win disproportionate share of smaller market. 50% greater than the public SaaS median.