Posts

11 June / exits / data analysis
Yesterday, Salesforce announced it would acquire Tableau for $15.7B. Tableau sells data visualization software and the team has built an incredible business. We analyzed the S-1 in 2014. The company has grown since its public offering to generate about $1.1B in revenue, growing at 29%. Let’s put this acquisition in context. First, it’s the third business intelligence related acquisition in the past month. Google announced the Looker acquisition last week. SiSense acquired Periscope Data.
10 June / product / saas / startups
You’ve found product market fit. You’ve hired a team, including some managers. Your initial, small customer base is very happy. You’ve discovered an initial channel of customer acquisition that’s working. You’ve raised a meaningful round of capital. And then, right then, product innovation decelerates to zero. The fast pace that characterized the past 12-18 months, when you would germinate an idea and write the code in less than a few days, has evaporated.
06 June
Today, Looker is announcing they are joining Google Cloud. During the past seven years, Looker has evolved to become the business intelligence platform for the modern business, that sits atop the next-generation data warehouses like BigQuery, Snowflake and RedShift. Throughout the journey, the long term vision has always remained the same: to become the single data layer across an enterprise. And over the last seven years, Looker has taken the first big steps to seeing it through by working with hundreds of customers to empower them with data.
30 May / sales / strategy / SaaS / management
Imagine a hypothetical startup with 10 account executives that is growing quickly. This startup has two AEs that outperform meaningfully, six that are at typical quota attainment, and two that are underperforming. Where should your sales enablement team focus their time? This is the team’s performance last year. They generated 8.6M in bookings on 10M in quota capacity (which is really good). Most teams aim for 70-75% attainment. If the sales enablement teams had focus on the top quartile AEs and improve their performance by 20%, the company would have booked $9.
28 May / trends / management
In 2013, Scott Berkun authored a book called The Year Without Pants. Scott shared his experience working remotely for Wordpress. After I read the book, I wrote: In the coming years, video conferencing and online meetings will become much more prevalent as stories like the ones Scott shares are told and retold. If you’re looking to understand how a fully distributed team used chat and video conferencing to build a world changing product, reading The Year Without Pants is a great way to answer those questions.
24 May / management
Before you raise your next round, ask yourself this question. Are there any key people you need to hire? Essential executives, critical engineers, important managers or anyone else? Your common stock value, or 409a valuation will increase the second you receive a term sheet. And the strike price of any new options will increase with the 409a valuation. Let’s take a step back. When you hire someone, you’ll grant them a salary and options.
20 May / best practices
As we grow in our careers, we first become individual contributors, then managers of individuals, and then managers of managers. That transition is a tough one, and one that comes very quickly in startups. A bit flips and a leader must begin to delegate. Delegation is the only way a leader of a team or company develops leverage in the organization. A good friend told me about a Vanity Fair interview with former President Obama.
13 May / trends
In a recent meeting, a founder asked me what I thought of the fundraising environment. My answer was: it’s become incredibly sophisticated along three dimensions: diversity of product offering, pricing sophistication, and efficiency of investment processes. If you read eBoys or Done Deals or Creative Capital, you’ll get a sense of the early days of the venture industry. It started out with six men at a famous restaurant in San Francisco hearing pitches over lunch.
10 May / data analysis / sales / saas
A public market investors asked me if there are any patterns in the list of recent software IPOs with the best sales efficiencies. As I looked through the list, I noticed one. All of these businesses sell bottom up with small initial ACVs that grow dramatically. Atlassian, Zoom, Twilio, Slack, New Relic, Elastic. All of them target small groups of users within larger organization who introduce the vendor. Over time, usage grows, accounts expand.
As I looked through the list of public SaaS companies this morning, I read their forward multiples. ZScaler: 23.1x; Okta: 21.8x; Veeva: 18.8x; Coupa: 18.6x; Shopify: 17.0x. Those multiples are calculated by dividing the enterprise value today by its projected future revenue of the company. But what do they mean? What do they imply? First, we need to set some context. There are two kinds of companies: those valued on growth and those valued on profits.