There’s a parallel between cryptoassets today and the British colonial period predating the US. In the late-1600s, colonies began to print their own money. Today, we’re seeing many startups coin their own money, creating an explosion in the number of new (crypto)currencies.
States printed colonial money to pay debts to citizens. During tax collection times, the state accepted citizens’ bills as payment and retired the bills from circulation. Citizens would pay each other with these bills.
Most SaaS companies dream of attaining the $100M ARR mark. The very fastest attain the goal in 6-7 years. Last week, Workday halted trading to announce it had signed Walmart as a customer. Brian White, research analyst at Drexel Hamilton investment bank, estimated this one customer could generate $100M-$200M per year for Workday in recurring revenue - a single customer.
I couldn’t validate that this is the largest contract ever signed by a SaaS company, but if it is not the largest, it is most certainly the top 5.
The Ultimate Software Company is a $5.5B market cap provider of SaaS Human Capital Management software. Founded in 1996, the company initially sold licensed software and migrated to multi-tenant SaaS in 2002 with a product called UltiPro. Today, more than 82% of revenues are subscription dollars.
The company serves the mid-market and enterprise customers with a broad software suite that includes Payroll, Human Resources Management Software (HRIS), Benefits Management, Time Clock and a Self Service Portal for employees.
Founded in 1998, Netsuite is worth about $7.7B, making it the sixth largest SaaS compay behind Salesforce, LinkedIn, Workday, ServiceNow and Splunk. Netsuite began developing ERP (enterprise resource planning) tools to help companies manage their finances, expenses and supply chain. Over time, Netsuite has added a few more product lines including ECommerce platform, CRM, business intelligence and a professional services management product. In the last ten years, Netsuite has grown revenue from $18M to $556M.
Worth $11.5B, ServiceNow is the third public SaaS company, after Salesforce and LinkedIn. Based in San Diego, ServiceNow employs roughly 3000 people, and sells a system of record for IT operations teams to manage IT assets, facilities, and human resources. ServiceNow’s software allows clients to develop custom applications for their own needs, often with the help of the company’s professional services team.
The business was founded in 2004, but hit its stride 2009 and went public in 2012.
In the late 1990s, two of the dominant talent management platforms were founded. Taleo and SuccessFactors grew very quickly after they entered the market, bringing novel delivery to the human capital market. Both companies eventually offered talent acquisition, performance management, and learning tools for human resources teams. But they started in different places. Taleo initially focused on recruiting tools and SuccessFactors on performance management.
As the chart above shows, both companies scaled revenue rapidly, reaching $100M in revenue 7 years after founding.
Ariba went public in 1999 three years after having been founded. In its first year of selling, the company generated $800,000 in revenue. Then it ramped. $8 million, then $45 million, then $274M. In a three-year period, the company had grown 33x and achieved an astounding CAGR of 224% over the same period.
Ariba shares increased 300% on its first day of trading at IPO, valuing the company at $6 billion.
In the late 90s, one company changed its name five times before they settled on one which today is a well-known brand. The business started as Silver Computing in 1995, then Stellar Computing in June 1997. Six months later, the company would rebrand as next ActiveTouch Systems, then six months later to ActiveTouch Inc., and finally, six months before IPO to WebEx.
WebEx went public in June 2000 with $8.
The first SaaS startup started as a packaged software company. After selling floppy disks and CD-ROMs of expense software in computer software stores, the company changed models for the first time, and sold software licenses directly to enterprises. The company went public on this model in 1998. But soon after the crash of 2001, the startup’s market cap totaled only $8M.
So the business evolved again and became a pure SaaS business, selling software accessible to anyone with a browser.
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.
Salesforce went public more than 10 years ago. This harbinger of subscription, internet delivered software created one of the most exciting waves in software and the single most valuable SaaS company today, worth $37B as of this writing.