Category: exits

Posts

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26 December / exits / trends / data analysis / saas
Reading the news in the past week made me wonder. Just where are we pricing SaaS companies today? The Nasdaq and the S&P have toyed with a bear market. Many stocks are down 10 to 50%. Absolute valuations are one consideration, but let’s understand it at a deeper level. Have multiples compressed? 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.
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11 November / exits / saas / trends
Another week, another blockbuster software acquisition! This time SAP has agreed to purchase Qualtrics for $8B. Qualtrics is a Utah based provider of experience management software. Qualtrics writes and sells software to ask questions of employees and customers to help businesses improve customer experience, employee satisfaction products, and brand. Qualtrics had intended to go public this week. The company generated $342M in the last twelve months and had grown 27% annually.
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28 October / exits / data analysis
Over the weekend, IBM announced the largest software acquisition of Red Hat, an open-source software company, for $35B. It is the largest software acquisition in history, and the third largest technology acquisition (Dell/EMC at $67B and JDS/SDL for $41B were both larger hardware mergers). IBM will spend 31% of their current market cap for Red Hat and pay a 70% premium to Red Hat’s closing price on Friday. It’s a triumph of the open source strategy.
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24 September / exits / trends / saas
About two years ago, Marketo was publicly traded and valued at roughly $1.1B. Vista Equity paid $1.8B to take the company private, a 64% premium. At the time it was taken private by Vista, Marketo generated $241M in trailing revenue, growing at 35% annually. Its net income margin was -31%. Last week, Adobe announced they acquired Marketo for $4.75B. By the time of the sale, revenues had grown to $321M, growing at about 21% annually and profitable.
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08 July / saas / exits / startups / data analysis
There’s a theory to the idea that winner takes most in Startupland. The startup that grows a bit faster at the beginning demonstrates more momentum. The startup raises capital sooner, hires people, builds the product, markets and sells the product, grows more, and raises capital. Repeat the process for each round of capital. Is it borne out in reality? This theory suggests that irrespective of the category, the winner should capture most of the market value.
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2018 is a blockbuster year for software M&A multiples. The prices companies fetch relative to their revenues surpass any of those in the past 7 years. Billion-dollar plus acquisitions in 2018 have commanded a median 17.7x trailing enterprise value to revenue multiple. Nothing in the past seven years is close. In fact, there is not a single acquisition in that range. In 2018, three acquirers have paid greater than 14x trailing multiples, and two have paid greater than 20x trailing.
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10 June / exits
Last week, Microsoft acquired Github for $7.5B. It’s a massive acquisition at a massive price relative to other software acquisitions. Why is Microsoft willing to pay so much? Developer identity. Identity has been critical to Microsoft success. Active Directory (AD) forms nexus of the Microsoft enterprise ecosystem. AD contains all the users, their roles, and their rights. The Skype acquisition was also about identity, consumer identity. Github brings identity of a third important demographic: developers.
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03 June / trends / exits / fundraising / startups
There are five forces driving the startup ecosystem today. They are working together to reinforce a high valuation environment. These forces are: An infusion of capital into Startupland. There are many reasons for this. The money supply in the US has doubled in the last 10 years. A low interest rate environment means a low cost of capital, which means yield is hard to find for cash. VCs raise larger funds and more frequently.
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20 March / exits / saas
Yesterday, Salesforce announced it will acquire Mulesoft for $6.5B. A recent addition to the list of public software companies, Mulesoft is a tremendous business. The company generated $297M of revenue in 2017 at a 73% gross margin, and grew by 58%. Salesforce is acquiring the business for an astounding 21x enterprise value to trailing twelve months revenue multiple - nearly 2x the next closest. Transaction Price ($M) TTM Rev ($M) Growth Rate Gross Margin Year of Acquisition Enterprise Value EV/TTM Rev Salesforce/Mulesoft 6,500 297 58% 73% 2018 6,296 21.
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Recently, people have been asking just where are we in the SaaS valuation cycle. I last updated the chart above more than six months ago. The answer is close to ten year highs. The chart above shows the median enterprise value to forward revenue multiple to multiple. Enterprise value is the market of a publicly traded company minus the available cash the company holds. Forward revenue is the sum of the next 12 months’ revenue.
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27 February / exits / trends / saas
At Saastr, Jason and I discussed the role of private equity in SaaS on stage as a potential acquisition path for SaaS startups. Private equity hasn’t been a common exit route for venture backed startups in the past. But that’s changing. The chart above depicts the total disclosed value of US venture-backed SaaS startups which have been acquired by PE firms since 2010. The aggregate value has grown from zero to about $13B over that time period.
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08 November / exits
The startup acquisition market is off by roughly 35% year-over-year. Why the decline? One consistent response from potential acquirers is that they are waiting for tax reform to happen. If it does happen, and when acquirers do decide to pursue acquisitions, I suspect we will enter a very acquisitive environment for three reasons. First, the cash available to finance acquisitions on the balance sheets of public companies has grown by 20 X over the last 10 years and now totals more than $8.
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07 July / exits
At some point in the life of your company, you may consider selling the business. Every acquisition process might run a little bit differently, but these are some of the patterns that I have observed after about nine years in the venture business, and also having evaluated a handful of acquisitions when I was at Google. There are two key constituencies within the buyer: the business owner and corporate development.
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19 June / exits / strategy
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is notable for many reasons. Of course, there’s the magnitude $13.7B. The second is the shockwaves reverberating through the grocery industry. Costco fell 10% and Kroger almost 25% on the news. Third, the acquisition underscores the importance of physical retail even to the largest American ecommerce giant. Those are all remarkable in their own right. However, the most interesting part of this acquisition is that it marks the current apotheosis of technology’s impact in the broader economy.
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05 May / exits
Five months into 2017 nine venture-backed technology companies have gone public compared to 14 in 2016. Four consumer companies and five enterprise companies have popped on average 29% since their IPO pricing. Only two, Carvana, an online used car dealer, and Netshoes, a Brazilian ecommerce company have traded down from their IPO pricing. The other seven have demonstrated the broad public investor demand for new offerings. B2B companies’ market cap totals $9.
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24 April / saas / exits / marketing / sales
There are approximately 22 million trucks in the US. Many of these trucks run software to track the location of the vehicle, manage inventory, and comply with regulation. There are two SaaS companies operating at greater than $100M in ARR in the space and they illustrate one of the mantras on this blog: there are many different ways to build a SaaS company. After last week’s post, Is There a No Man’s Land in SaaS ACVs, a founder asked me to highlight some of the go to market strategies in different segments.
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23 March / exits
When should you sell your business? There is no universal to this answer because the question is multifaceted and unique to each company. But we can answer another related question. Given a declining growth rate, when is my company’s value maximized? Startups strategic value lies within their ability to grow. The faster a company can grow, the more valuable it is. This relationship is remarkably linear. The chart above shows the public SaaS median EV/TTM multiple.
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01 March / fundraising / exits
The public markets have changed the way they value SaaS companies. The median forward revenue multiple for SaaS business reached its peak in February 2014, fell to its nadir two years later, and has since recovered, hovering at around five times forward revenue – where it has remained with little variance over the last six months. However, that’s not the whole story. It’s not just that the median has fallen.
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24 January / exits
Cisco announced yesterday it would acquire AppDynamics for $3.7B. We’ve analyzed AppDynamic’s growth and key metrics, because the business had filed its S-1 to go public. However, the management team and board changed plans and made history. By my estimate, AppDynamics is the fifth largest software acquisition in modern times. More astounding, the AppDynamics acquisition does set the absolute high water mark in one regard: acquisition multiple. It’s a very promising predictor of the 2017 M&A environment.
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07 December / exits
What is your SaaS startup worth in an acquisition? To answer that question, we can analyze the data set of all software companies acquired over the last six years and benchmark them by enterprise value-to-revenue multiples. What is your SaaS startup worth in an acquisition? To answer that question, we can analyze the data set of all software companies acquired over the last six years and benchmark them by enterprise value-to-revenue multiples.
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17 October / exits / saas
2016 has been a volatile year. Major capital investments fell 55% in Q3. The IPO market is a tale of two cities with some companies able to go public and catapult their valuations, but the overall number remains in the single digits. Last, M&A activity seems quite brisk with more than 30 $1B+ billion acquisitions in the last nine months alone. How do all these factors commingle to influence today’s acquisition environment?
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29 July / exits
Through the end of July in 2016, $70B worth of SaaS companies sold. Their size follows a power law with LinkedIn at $26B and Netsuite at $9.3B. The more than $600B in cash on the balance sheets of large public tech companies combined with a recent pricing correction in SaaS companies presaged a flurry of acquisition activity. But it hasn’t unfolded as expected in three different ways. First, 15 of the 22 US software acquisitions worth more than $0.
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01 July / exits
Salesforce’s initial public offering in 2003 demarcated the beginning of a new era, the era of Software as a Service. In the 13 years that followed, many startups have followed their path to build innovative software that has transformed their respective industries and sectors. The shift has been revolutionary both in software delivery as well as sales. It’s not an understatement to say everything has changed. 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.
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13 June / exits
The acquisition frenzy continues in SaaS. This morning Microsoft announced it would acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, which prices the business at 8 .1x trailing 12 month revenues and 6.7x next 12 month revenues. In addition, Symantec announced that it would acquire Blue Coat for $4.7 billion, a 7.7x trailing multiple. In the 2016 acquisition market, the median acquisition multiple is 7.8x trailing 12 month revenue and 6.4x next 12 month revenue.
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02 June / exits
Three billion dollar SaaS acquisitions were announced this week with Salesforce paying $2.9B for DemandWare, an eCommerce platform provider, Vista Equity Partners paying $1.8B for Marketo, the marketing automation company, and Thoma Bravo buying Qlik, a business intelligence companies for $2.9B. In addition to the absolute size, the first two trans transactions distinguish themselves high valuation multiples of 12x and 8x on trailing revenues. CompanyPriceRevenue $MAnnual Growth RateGross MarginNI MarginFCF MarginTTM/Rev OPower55214916%62%-30%-12%3.
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30 November / exits
In 2015, startups benefitted from a vibrant fund raising market. In 2016, I believe they will enjoy a very active acquisition environment. The roughly 60 or so publicly traded software companies hold more than $380B in cash and short term investments on their balance sheets. Though Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Oracle possess 75% of that cash, 14 other companies have cash reserves of greater than $500M. If we examine the M&A activity measured by number of acquisitions announced through November 28, 2015 across the largest 18 businesses, we can see Google and Microsoft have become increasingly acquisitive over the past few years, with Microsoft setting nearly doubling the number of acquisitions since Satya Nadella took the helm as CEO.
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09 November / exits
In the last 22 months, there have been 4 $1B+ software IPOs and 3 $1B+ software acquisitions. But compared to 2014, 2015 was a meager year for startups looking to go public or be acquired. The chart above plots the M&A activity over this period. The M&A market halved in activity. In 2014, $11B of disclosed M&A occurred. I’m excluding take-private transactions of public companies like SAP/Concur, Bain/BlueCoat, Oracle/Responsys, etc.
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15 July / exits
When asked why he took Zendesk public this week, CEO Mikkel Svane replied, “At some point you have to move out of your parent’s basement.” It’s a witty quip with some truth to it. Evolving into a public company is a step for about 25-30 venture backed IT companies per year, and it can be a worthwhile, if strenuous, journey. Zendesk went public in the midst of a 30% reduction in SaaS multiples in the public markets, and the company has continued to perform well.
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08 July / exits
In every sales process for every SaaS startup, there is one ultimate internal champion advocating the purchasing decision. And it’s their budget that will be used to pay for it. So, which departments within customers spend most on SaaS? One way of looking at this question is to compare the successes of software companies targeting different departments. I have categorized the 50 or so publicly traded SaaS companies by their principal buyer, and tallied the aggregate market caps of those companies above.
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30 June / exits
This time last year, I analyzed the state of the startup acquisition market. Two key trends surfaced. First, the larger acquisitions were becoming larger. Second, that the total number of acquisitions in 2014 would achieve a 5 year high. As of mid-2015, the first trend continues while the second seems to have faltered. The median acquisition price for technology companies in Crunchbase’s data set is plotted above, bucketed by size.
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18 June / exits
There’s a “new” $4B startup today. A consumer hardware company called FitBit started trading on the Nasdaq this morning and it’s an impressive success story. We’ve examined the tremendous revenue growth GoPro experienced in a previous post. Impressively, FitBit is growing faster. As the chart above shows, FitBit grew from $14M to $76M to $271M to $745M in revenue in four years, generating astounding growth rate of 170% per year.
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28 May / exits / data analysis / saas
Of the 43 SaaS companies to have gone public in the time period between 2006 and 2014, 60% are trading above their IPO pop price – the price at the end of their first day of trading. The median company has appreciated 69% since its IPO. The chart above shows the trends for each of the companies in this data set. Xero tops the list that more than 17x appreciation.
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27 May / exits / data analysis
In 2000, the majority of tech acquisitions were primarily stock. One company would buy another using its own shares, instead of paying for the target business in cash. But since then, there’s been a secular trend to cash deals. In 2014, 90% of the tech M&A transactions consummated by companies, and excluding private equity firms, in the US with disclosed deal values were cash deals. As the cash balances of large tech incumbents balloons (Apple is at greater than $30B, Google at more than $65B, Microsoft has $95B, etc), more and more M&A is primarily cash, because cash is cheap and interest rates are low.
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30 April / exits
Rumors swirled yesterday that Salesforce, the $40B SaaS behemoth, had been approached by an acquirer. Dan Primack speculated this morning that Oracle and Microsoft are the likely candidates. If Salesforce were to be acquired, the SaaS ecosystem would change substantially. Looking at the market caps and the balance sheets of the major enterprise acquirers, Microsoft could certainly acquire Salesforce outright in cash. Oracle would likely acquire the business in a cash & stock transaction.
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14 April / exits / data analysis
How many companies sell each year for $1B or more? In the last ten years, on average, 2.5 US venture backed IT companies are acquired for $1B+. In the last ten years, a total of 20 companies have sold themselves for greater than $1B. Over the past 20 years, that trend has been relatively constant, with the exception of the euphoria in 1999 and 2000. The typical unicorn acquisition generates $1.
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05 April / exits / saas / data analysis
In the Runaway Train of Late Stage Fundraising, I analyzed the growing disparity of the public and private markets. Ten years ago, we saw 2-10x as many IPOs as $40M+ rounds. Today, we see 16x as many $40M+ growth rounds as IPOs. There’s no question that companies are waiting longer to go public, fueled by late stage private investment. I was wondering if as a consequence, we might see bigger IPOs.
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05 March / startups / exits
After writing about the Seed Market in 2015, I wondered whether I could find some data to support Sam Altman’s observation that acquihires have fallen in frequency over the past year by 66-75%. The chart above shows an estimate of the acquihires in US technology companies over the past four years. There is no perfect data set on acquihires because many of these transactions are never announced. So this estimate, which I created using Crunchbase data, likely underestimates the total number of acquihires in every period.
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11 December / data analysis / exits / saas / s 1 analysis
This post is part of a continuing series evaluating the S-1s of publicly traded SaaS companies in order to better understand the core business and build a library of benchmarks that might be useful to founders. Box is a 1000+ person company providing collaboration and document sharing software. We had previously analyzed the business when the company filed their first S-1. Yesterday, the company filed an updated version of their S-1.
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10 December / data analysis / exits
Growth is king in today’s public markets. Most of the SaaS IPOs we’ve analyzed have traded growth for profitability and they have been rewarded handsomely for it. For the large tech companies, this trend is no different. The public market prizes growth. Some public tech companies sustain growth through internal efforts, but many use their cash reserves to acquire fast-growing startups. These public market cash reserves total $430B or so across the top 250 or so public tech companies, a massive war chest that will fuel startup M&A in 2015.
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17 November / data analysis / exits / saas / s 1 analysis
This post is part of a continuing series evaluating the S-1s of publicly traded SaaS companies in order to better understand the core business and build a library of benchmarks that might be useful to founders. New Relic is San Francisco based, 534 person company providing tools for engineers to understand how well their code is performing. The company operates in the Application Performance Management category, which New Relic calls Software Analytics.
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14 October / exits / startups
The startup acquisition market is poised to have its best year in nearly a decade. If acquirers maintain the same pace from the first nine months of the year through Q4, more than 450 venture-backed startups will have been acquired, generating more than $25B in proceeds. Given this state of affairs, it’s a good time to take stock of the major trends in the startup market. I’ve observed four:
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19 September / saas / exits / benchmarks
Yesterday, SAP announced it would acquire Concur for $8.3B, the single largest SaaS acquisition in history in dollar terms. To put this acquisition in context, I looked at six other public-to-public acquisitions, where one publicly traded company acquired another. Because the acquired target is public, much of their financial information is readily available. As the chart above shows, the Enterprise Value/Trailing 12 Month Revenue (EV/TTM Rev) multiple SAP paid for Concur is tied for the highest among any public-to-public SaaS acquisitions.
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03 September / data analysis / exits / saas / s 1 analysis
This post is part of a continuing series evaluating the S-1s of publicly traded SaaS companies in order to better understand the core business and build a library of benchmarks that might be useful to founders. Zendesk is a 700 person company that builds customer support software. Zendesk went public earlier this year. It’s a remarkable business primarily because the founders and the team have built an incredibly efficient customer acquisition funnel.
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27 August / data analysis / exits / saas / s 1 analysis
One of the best ways I’ve found to understand SaaS companies is to pore through their public filings. A few months ago, I analyzed Box’s S-1. In this post, we’ll look at HubSpot’s IPO filing and compare their journey to a public company with a basket of about 40 other publicly traded companies, in the hopes that this data will help other founders chart their path to IPO. In the next seven charts, we’ll explore how HubSpot built their business.
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25 August / data analysis / exits
Does a startup’s location impact its M&A prospects? We’ve already determined there is no material difference between the follow-on financing rates by geography. But do acquirers behave similarly to investors? To answer the question, I’ve prepared three charts used Crunchbase data and focused on the seven states with more than 20 acquisitions since 2010. In the first two charts, we’ll compare the share of acquisitions by state to the share of financings by state in both number and dollar value, to get a sense of relative performance by state.
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15 August / data analysis / exits
Earlier this week in a post on Quartz Mark DeCambre asks the question, Are IPOs Dying Because of Huge Growth Rounds? The chart above shows the 36 year trend in the number of tech IPOs. And as DeCambre points out, so far through 2014, the ten largest startup financings have yielded about twice as much capital as the ten largest IPOs. To paraphrase Mark’s question, can startups raise just as much capital in the private markets as in the public market, without the hassle of public market regulation?
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24 July / exits
How much is my business worth? It’s a question every entrepreneur, founder and business owner asks themselves. This is particularly true during acquisition conversations with a prospective buyer. Because most companies are privately held, the acquisition details of the roughly 10,000 businesses who sell themselves for less than $500M each year in the US remain hidden. There are enormous forces at play in the M&A market that indicate M&A activity will increase substantially in the next few years.
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10 July / data analysis / exits
See an updated version of this post: Trends in the Startup Acquisition Market in 2015 The venture-backed startup IPO market has remained strong over the past five quarters, with 20 or more IPOs in each of those quarters. I was curious how the strength of the IPO market has impacted the acquisition market. In particular, how the number and value of startup acquisitions has changed, and more specifically, whether there are any trends in the sizes of acquisitions.
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According to the WSJ, GoPro is the largest consumer hardware IPO in 23 years, though like most entrepreneurs, I don’t remember the Duracell IPO. The last consumer hardware company IPO I remember is Tivo, which was in 1999. Because GoPro is the first sizable consumer hardware IPO in eons and because the startup world has a blossoming hardware segment, I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast a top consumer hardware startup with the benchmarks of public SaaS companies using GoPro’s S-1.
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11 March / saas / fundraising / exits
SaaS companies are the darlings of the public market. The average publicly traded SaaS company enjoys twice as strong a revenue multiple as ten years ago. SaaS companies’ time to IPO has been decreasing steadily from over 10 years since founding to under 7. Despite the decrease in time to IPO, the average dollars raised at IPO has tripled from the early nineties and grown by 50% since 2000. I analyzed the 41 publicly traded SaaS companies comparing to understand the trends in SaaS IPO.
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26 February / startups / data analysis / exits
A few days ago, Simply Business published an infographic and data on the acquisition patterns of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Looking at that data, I wondered which acquirers pay the most for startups. Ideally, this data provides some negotiating leverage to founders selling their businesses. I’ve prepared three charts and a table to tell the story. The first compares the average acquisition prices over the life of each of the tech monoliths.
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20 January / startups / exits / data analysis
Each year the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters release data characterizing the state of the startup market. I’ve analyzed the 2013 data and there are three important trends I observed. All in all, the startup exit market is quite healthy. Startup exit values are increasing more than 7% per year, on average. The number of exits is flat-to-down during the ten year period I studied. The public markets have opened to startups again, doubling their share of exits.
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16 January / startups / exits / data analysis
On the heels of last week’s post about the Health of the Public Technology Market, Felix Salmon asked the thought-provoking question above. Despite the 68x growth in the value of technology market caps since 1980, are newer average technology companies worth less? Surprisingly, yes. The average public tech company value has falled by more than 2/3rds from $4.3B in the early 80s to $1.4B today, as measured in 2014 dollars.
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06 January / startups / exits / data analysis
In the last 35 years, the tech industry has exploded in size from $62B in total market cap to more than $9.7T today, as the chart above shows. In that time, the tech industry has birthed some behemoths. In 2013, Apple became the largest publicly traded company, the first time a technology company held that distinction. Despite the number of massive companies built over the past three decades, these tech giants represent an increasingly small amount of the total value in the technology sector.
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10 December / startups / exits / benchmarks / data analysis
Raising money for a startup is expensive. The typical legal fees for a Series A are about 1% of the total money raised: roughly $40k on $4M. Of course, this doesn’t factor in the time for the process and the dilution of the investment. But if your startup is considering an IPO be prepared to pay eight times as much in fees. Across 360 venture backed technology IPOs in the last 10+ years which on average raised $107M, 8.
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09 December / startups / exits / data analysis
When startups are acquired, there are many considerations in accepting an offer. Does the vision of the acquirer fit the startup? Will the startup operate independently or be integrated? What is the price and structure of the transaction? Most of these questions have to be answered through extensive conversations with suitors. As for the structure of the acquisition, there’s data that can be used for benchmarking. I’ve assembled about 2400 M&A events of venture-backed technology companies since 2000 to compare the fraction of the total consideration which is stock and cash.
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18 November / startups / exits / data analysis
How much cash does a tech venture-backed company burn through before IPO? The median 2013 VC-backed tech IPO burned $33M and the average company burned $76M. The chart above shows the net income/burn rate of 2013 tech IPO by years since founding. Four categories of companies jump out in the chart: the profit leaders, the middle-of-the-pack, the negative hockey stick, and the go-for-broke. The profit leaders, Veeva(VEEV) and RetailMeNot(SALE), have generated tremendous profits from the outset.
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05 November / startups / data analysis / exits / benchmarks
In 2013, growth trumps all other considerations. For the average 2013 venture backed tech IPO, half of the startup’s enterprise value is explained by its growth rate, while none of it is explained by profitability. The market has spoken and startups have responded. Of the 25 IPOs I surveyed, both pending and completed, only 20% are profitable. On average, these startups operate at about -20% net income margins but are growing at 162% annually.
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26 February / data analysis / exits
Amazon operates its businesses at very close to break-even, zero net margin, to win the greatest share and prevent competition from undercutting them. This is as true for their books business as their infrastructure business, AWS. Bezos has explicitly stated this strategy and it’s the one that has led to Amazon’s massive success in many different lines of business. Over sushi, a friend explained to me that this strategy might also extend to the way the company views acquisitions.
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10 September / exits / data analysis
It’s a common refrain that venture backed IPOs have struggled in the past decade. For a long time, I believed and wrote supporting arguments underscoring the idea that the principal causes of this decline were Sarbanes-Oxley costs, decreasing equity coverage and decimalization of exchanges. But that’s wrong. A paper published earlier this year uses statistics to debunk these hypotheses. In “Where have all the IPOs gone?”, a team of statisticians concludes small cap tech IPOs are struggling because today’s public candidates aren’t profitable when then file.