Power Laws: A Look Back To Where 20 SaaS Break-Out Companies from 2012 Are Today

The second SaaStr post ever, way back in late 2012, was “Everybody Lies: SaaS Revenues in the Inc. 5000“.  It was a fun one, analyzing the only public source of data on just how much ARR a lot of SaaS companies had.  No one had IPO’d, no one really knew.  Box in 2015 was the first IPO from the SaaS 2.0 generation. Just re-reading this now, 5.5 years later, I can see so many things.  Power laws, low NPS issues, and more.  Let’s take a look back at where Hubspot, Upwork, and others were in 2011 GAAP revenue — and where they are today. I’ll update the post below.  Comments and learnings 5.5 years later in Bold.  But to me the take away is if you have something good after $10m ARR — stay the course.  Go long. Continue reading "Power Laws: A Look Back To Where 20 SaaS Break-Out Companies from 2012 Are Today"

What Order Should You Hire Your Management Team In?

The other day I was meeting with a great CEO who had raised a modest seed round.  Enough to invest, but not enough to go crazy with.  He’d found several good First VP candidates, in particular, a strong first head of marketing and a strong first head of product.  He asked which to hire first. The answer was obvious — both!  If you have a few nickels in the bank, and you somehow find a great VP a half stage or even full stage early, just hire her.  Hiring is so hard as it is.  Don’t try to save a few nickels by putting off a VP hire if you actually stumble into a great one earlier than planned.   But it’s a good question and I thought it might make sense to set out an Ideal VP Hiring Plan for Most SaaS Companies. Continue reading "What Order Should You Hire Your Management Team In?"

Unicorn Morning at SaaStr Europa!

We’ll have 3 different tracks and themes at SaaStr Europa on June 15 in Paris:  Unicorn Morning, Founder-to-Founder:  The True Stories, and Scaling Revenue. Fresh off Salesforce’s $6b+ acquisition of Mulesoft, we’ll have founder Ross Mason in an amazing conversation with Harry Stebbings.  Harry runs the 20 VC podcast and the SaaStr podcast and is one of everyone’s favorites, and he does an amazing job pulling the true stories out of the journey. Next, we’ll talk about a true Unicorn that did it the real and hard way — Meltwater.  Jørn Lyseggen will share how you build a billion dollar B2B startup without raising a billion, the challenges getting to $100m in ARR, and much more with Carl Fritjofsson of Creandum, backers of Spotify, iZettle, Mixmax, and more.   We’ll then grab one of the latest Unicorns, UiPath, with a discussion from Accel’s Luciana Lixandru and CMO Bobby Patrick. 
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Squeezing Out That Last 10%-20% Growth

Once you have something in SaaS, somewhere on the path from $1m to $10m where you’re either on your way to Initial Scale or getting past it, you’ll often end up with a subtle choice: Should you go for the extra 10%-20% of growth a year? After a few years, a few management team mistakes, and a few cycles, finally it will be repeatable.  Net negative churn and renewals will kick in.  Your mini-brand will start drive in a regular stream of leads (more on that here).  You’ll be a known vendor, have a decent sales team, a proven product, a steady stream of leads.  You’ll more or less know how you’ll do next quarter and maybe even this year, within a wide variance at least. You’ll finally, sort of, have some of it dialed in and figured out.  Folks will start to get Continue reading "Squeezing Out That Last 10%-20% Growth"

7 Simple Tips to Being a (Much) Better First Time Manager

One privilege I get as part of mentoring and investing in a few dozen startups is a chance to work with first-time managers.  The reality is, most start-ups are better off with a Stretch VP than a Never Did It But Has a Great LinkedIn VP.  More on that here. And as part of that, I see a lot of ambitious, driven first-time managers screw it up 🙂  I thought I’d share 7 actionable tips to help you if you’re getting your first big shot now …
  1. Make a firm rule: No Excuses.  This is probably the rookie error most first-time managers make, and many second and third-timers as well.  Excuses actually work fairly well in Big Companies, because it’s often not exactly clear who is responsible for many things in large organizations.  But the #1 reason a VP is hired in a start-up is Continue reading "7 Simple Tips to Being a (Much) Better First Time Manager"

New!! Meet 3 New Mentors with Braindates at SaaStr Europa on 15 June!

We have well over 1,000 founders, execs and VCs coming to the first SaaStr Europa on 14-15 June!  That’s basically capacity so grab a ticket now if you still want to come, and especially, we still have 50 slots let for Diversity and Inclusion program so please apply here.  Inclusion is our top priority for the handful of remaining tickets. We’ll have amazing speakers at Unicorn Morning including founders and leaders of Mulesoft, Meltwater, UiPath, just IPO’d Zuora, and more.  Incredible founder-to-founder stories with Datadog, Algolia, Showpad, UserZoom, Platform.sh, AB Tasty, Topia, and more.  A full day of Scaling Revenue sessions with leaders from Pipedrive, Intercom, Stripe, Stackoverflow, Anaplan, Pendo, Aaron Ross, and more.  And the VCs will pitch you! with rapid-fire sessions from the Top VCs including Accel, Point9, August Capital, Notion, Dawn, and much more. But as part of SaaStr events 2.
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A Should-I-Do-A-Free-Trial-Or-Not Checklist

The other day I went to buy a SaaS product.  I know this SaaS product well, and have used it for years.  It’s not a great piece of software, but it’s very effective and useful.  I was finally ready to buy. I was forced to go to an SDR first — the only button was “Contact Us”.   I asked for a free trial.  The SDR said that wasn’t possible, and wanted to talk about my “budget” first.  I told him I had no budget, but I’d used the product for years and just wanted a trial, and absent that, I was happy to buy today and just get my data in that minute.  I already knew the product and wanted to buy right now — but I couldn’t.  I escalated it to the CEO.  The CEO said free trials didn’t work
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We’re Up to 900 Attendees Now for SaaStr Europa! Zuora, UiPath, Anaplan and More Added as Speakers!

We’re up to ~900 total attendees for our first SaaStr Europa now in Paris!  We’re capped at about 1,000, although we may be able to squeeze a few more in. This will be a 1+1+1 day event, with our main full day on Friday 15 June, a kick off party on 14 June at The Family, and a VC-Founder Morning and Half-Day on June 16 with August Capital, Insight, Accel, Point 9, and other SaaS leaders.  We have extra tickets set aside just for founder/VC day if you want to get funded or learn how to, so sign up here! We have room for 3 more sponsors — click here if interested.  The lead quality should be very high if you sell to CEOs and founders of B2B companies. We’re also continuing to add great final speakers:

Next SaaStr Pro Exclusive AMA This Week!

CEOs — have you looked at SaaStr Pro? It’s our structured curriculum to train your team in 52+ of the best learning and lessons from SaaStr.  We’ll push a lesson and a video a week to your team, and assign them homework around it.  We’ll help you train them automatically to work together better, and grow faster.  You don’t have to do the work.  We do it for you. As part of SaaStr Pro, we also put together exclusive AMAs with Jason and other SaaS leaders where we answer all your top questions.  The next one is this week. We’ve also added a ton of perks to SaaStr Pro, including:

Corporate VC Investments: Limited, But Real, Pros. And Cons.

2018 is the Best of Times for venture capital.  200+ new seed funds, and a record number of unicorns and decacorns.  And as part of this, more and more big corporations are adding and expanding their venture arms.

For the most part, this is a great thing.  More options are almost always better for founders. Let me share a quick list of Pros, Cons, and Not Big Deals.


  • Usually won’t carry the company or write many “second checks”. This is the biggest issue. Traditional VCs usually reserve another 1x-2x of their first check for later investments. Corporate VCs don’t. They also generally don’t want to “carry” a company and write another check if no one else will. VCs don’t like this either, but they’ll often do it.
  • Aren’t usually great at bringing in next round investors. Top seed investors are good at brining in Series A
    Continue reading "Corporate VC Investments: Limited, But Real, Pros. And Cons."