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."
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.
Churn is one of the most important metrics for businesses. Churn dictates customer lifetime, lifetime value (CLV), customer acquisition spend and customer success spending. In short, churn is pivotal number to evaluate a startup's business, both for founders/management teams and investors. Unfortunately, accurately measuring churn rates/lifetime value is more complex than I initially thought. I was researching the topic after Ryan Shank asked me how best to calculate an average customer's lifetime value. The more I dug into the math, the deeper the rabbit hole went."
As I've watched a few of the companies I work with grow, the pattern I see emerging from most of them is their ability to persistently face chaos and from it, create processes and then continuously improve them.
I'll never forget the first time I was assigned a sales quota. I was six months into a sales role at Google in which I on-boarded and managed the accounts of social networks running AdSense ads. Our key metric was customer satisfaction and retention. After a few months, I was starting to get into a groove. And then, our team was assigned a new manager who put the team on a quota, sending me into a tailspin.
For Google, seasonality is an important factor in forecasting quarterly revenue growth. In the advertising business, Q4 is always the strongest, followed by Q1. Q2 is the weakest. In Google's latest financial year, the difference between the weakest and strongest quarters was 22%: $14.4B in Q4 and $11.8B in Q2. I wondered if the same were true for SaaS companies. While not subject to the consumer buying holiday cycle like advertising based companies, SaaS salespeople might be impacted by the vacation schedules of their customers or some other factors I couldn't anticipate.
Yesterday, I walked the sprawling floor of the Consumer Electronics Show. These are the six key themes/trends I noted: The Coming Era of Drones, The Internet of Things is Going Away, The Reinvention of the Car, Searching for the Next Massive Hardware Market, Commodification of Wearable Technology, and Hunting for TV's New Killer Feature
Tien is the founder and CEO of Zuora, and was formerly CMO and CSO at Salesforce. He is a brilliant marketer and created the notion of the three doors to SaaS success.
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.
Earlier this week, Zappos declared they will abandon traditional management structure for holacracy, a management ethos that eschews pyramids and hierarchy in favor of self-organizing groups, called holons. It's not a structure without management, but one of distributed authority and management. Below is a schematic describing holacracy at a high level.