Just 25 months ago, Aileen Lee coined the term unicorn in her post Welcome to the Unicorn Club and last week the Economist declared these Unicorns "Gored" Over the span of those two years, the Unicorn press cycle has swung from euphoric apotheosis to bleak nadir.
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.
It's the end of the year, time for performance reviews, self-reflection, and planning for next year. In addition to preparing our goals for our teams and our businesses, we should prepare goals for ourselves. Oftentimes, it's easy to let the company's ambitions drive our OKRs. But there's something more to consider.
On December 2, SaaS Office Hours at Redpoint will welcome Maia Josebachvilli, VP of Strategy and People at Greenhouse, a fast growing recruiting software company. Before Greenhouse, Maia founded Urban Escapes, a DC-based startup she sold to LivingSocial. Maia is especially well known for her thought leadership in developing best in class recruiting metrics. She was also selected for Inc's 30 under 30.
Last night, SaaS Office Hours hosted Optimizely co-founder and CTO Pete Koomen. Pete was a Google Associate Product Manager for AdSense and launched Google App Engine. Then he joined his co-founder, Dan Siroker, also an APM at Google to found three companies, the last of which is Optimizely.
Mark Roberge, the Chief Revenue Officer at Hubspot, has spent 20 years in startups. As he told me a few days ago, he has observed the lack of sales management and sales execution skills as one of the most consistent deficiencies limiting the potential of early stage SaaS companies.
In 76 years, the British cycling team have recorded only one gold medal. In 2002, pushed by new head coach named Sir Dave Brailsford, the team implemented philosophy of continuous incremental improvement. And the results were astounding.
As the temperment of the fundraising market shifts, particularly in the later stages, the question of how much a startup should burn will become increasingly important. We're living in a historic period of very inexpensive venture capital. These cheap dollars have fueled spectacular companies with record-setting growth rates. In such an environment, growth at almost any cost is handsomely rewarded. But we're observing the ecosystem starting a correction - particularly in the late stage of the market. And so burn rates will matter more and efficient growth will be prized again. What does that mean for founders when planning their 2016 budgets?
Founded in 2002, the Australian software maker Atlassian is an exceptional company in many regards. But foremost, Atlassian is one of the best examples of flywheel SaaS companiesyet. Atlassian counts 1600 employees and sells five products JIRA (bug tracking software), Confluence (project management), HipChat (internal chat/collaboration), BitBucket (code repository) and JIRA Service Desk (help desk software. Yesterday, Atlassian filed their F-1, a document preceding their IPO, and revealed how efficient a software company they have built. In 2015, the company will generate $320M in revenue.
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.