Financial discipline is a hallmark of great companies. It's what enables businesses to build exceptional go to market models, weather difficult times, and ultimately succeed. Sometimes, financial discipline in startups is imposed by financial markets, like in 2008 when the total amount of venture capital investment plummeted after Lehman imploded. Other times, financial discipline is imposed by founders and management teams. The tweet above is from Lew Cirne, founder and CEO of New Relic, a $1.5B market cap company serving developers, who deliberately raised small arounds at the outset of the company to impose financial discipline on his business. In other words, Lew valued patience with unit economics.
Compensation structures are one of the most interesting questions facing customer success organizations in software startups. How should customer success leaders structure their team's compensation in order to align the objectives of individual customer success managers with those of the larger business?
As I prepared the S-1 analysis for ServiceNow, the third largest public SaaS company in the world, I came across a section in their latest annual report called Key Factors Affecting Our Performance in which the company describes the two ways they evaluate churn. One is common, but another is unusual.
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 role of the marketing team within SaaS has stretched from simply engendering awareness and creating interest, to guiding customers much deeper into the funnel. Steve Patrizi created the schematic above that illustrates the idea beautifully.
We may have been talking about SaaS companies for more than a decade, but we're still just at the beginning. The legacy software companies including Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and and IBM control 83% of the market cap of software businesses, representing $830B in market cap. The largest SaaS company, Salesforce, is just about half the size of SAP, and Microsoft is 8x bigger.
I'm thrilled to welcome Mina Radhakrishnan as an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) to Redpoint. Mina, my partner Jamie, and I got to know each other about 10 years ago at Google, where we were associate product managers all working in Marissa Mayer's APM program.
In a recent podcast, Ron Gill, the CFO of Netsuite - a $7B+ market cap company with about $600M in 2014 revenue, which provides ERP software to mid-market companies - articulated the importance of the Lifetime Value / Cost of Customer Acquisition (LTV/CAC) ratio for his company. LTV/CAC is often used to justify marketing and sales investment to acquire customers. But there's much more to it.
McKinsey developed the 9 Box Matrix in the 1970s to help GE prioritize investments across its 150 business units. Not all business units were equally attractive. Some should receive investments and others should be divested. The 9 Box Matrix evaluated business units on two dimensions: industry attractiveness and competitive strength of the business unit. At some point in the last 40 years, Human Resources teams co-opted this model as a talent management tool, and replaced the two industry axes with people specific ones: performance and potential, as depicted above.
As the next generation of SaaS companies achieve maturity, they have begun to serve larger and larger customers, who in addition to demanding a great product, often request services. Professional services, as they are often called, entail training and customization. For product driven startups, the decision to offer professional services is a tricky one.