14 October / trends
We are very excited about open source software. Open source is a powerful distribution mechanism to get software and people's hands early and easily. In an era where SaaS customer acquisition cost increases monotonically, open source can be a powerful antidote. The other area that we are spending time in is open source at the application tier. Mattermost is our latest investment there, and we continue to look for others. They tend to be very capital efficient, fast growing businesses that can be quite disruptive.
07 October / fundraising / trends / data analysis
We've all seen the data on the average increases in round sizes over the last four or five years. Startups are able to raise larger early rounds because of the financial environment. One way of thinking about the early-stage fundraising market is as a collection of financial products. In 2008, there was a $5M series A product and a $10M series B product. Those were the most popular. As I've written about before, there's now a continuum of financial products available to startups at the early stage.
In a recent interview, Sid Sijbrandij, the founder of Gitlab observed something about remote teams that I think is absolutely true. I've seen it in many of the remote/distributed companies we work with. He said: Remote forces you to do the things you should be doing any way earlier and better As company scale, they need to develop infrastructure to successfully manage and coordinate large numbers of people. But in the early days, by virtue of being close to each other physically, it's easier to delay some of these investments.
30 September / data analysis / exits
Over the weekend, there was quite a bit of press about the challenged state of startup IPOs this year. I was curious about the real trends in share prices, so I gathered the data on some of the more salient IPOs. The chart above shows 11 IPOs at different points in their life cycles. The leftmost column is the price of the shares at IPO, followed by the share price on the first day close, followed by Friday's price.
23 September / office hours
Next week, on the 9th of October, Redpoint will host Office Hours with Nick Mehta. Nick is the iconic CEO of Gainsight, the leader in customer success. Nick and his team created the category and know the best practices of the world's leading customer success organizations. Customer success is evolving quickly and we're seeing different models of the practice evolve in our portfolio. Nick will talk about the trends he's seeing and take questions from the audience.
19 September / books
I've been searching for a great history of the venture capital industry since before I joined Redpoint. There are a handful of books that are pretty good. Done Deals. eBoys. Creative Capital. But there's a great one calledVC by Tom Nicholas. Nicholas traces the history of the venture capital industry back to whaling. They weren't called venture capitalists back then, but they serve the same role. Men would broker relationships between wealthy individuals and adventuresome captains.
17 September / books
I've gotten to know Marc Randolph as a fellow board member at Looker. Marc has helped many companies get off the ground, but the most famous is Netflix. Marc founded the business and served as its first CEO until Reed Hastings took the helm in 2003. In That Will Never Work, Marc recounts the early days of the $130B market cap company first started in Santa Cruz and it’s a remarkable story.
16 September / data analysis / exits
Last week, SaaS stocks fell by about 18% on average. The chart above shows the most recent enterprise value to forward multiple for a basket of next-generation software companies. The red line is the value and the blue line is the median over the same time frame. As of Friday, the median forward multiple is 9.3x which is a 11% drop from the previous high of 10.5x. The current valuation level is still top decile across this time period, despite the drop.
11 September / sales / pricing
Selling based on ROI (return-on-investment) sounds great. A salesperson lays out an iron-clad case for how the customer will make 5x or 6x or 10x their initial investment in a piece of software in three years or less. The champion will use ROI math to assuage upper management and procurement's concerns. Or so the thinking goes. If we reflect on the most successful software companies, the very largest, very few sell based on ROI.
05 September / best practices / management
I've playing with a new mental model for early-stage startups: a pendulum. This pendulum oscillates between the limiting factors of the business at different stages. There are only two limiting factors in this mental model: product and go to market. At the moment a startup is founded, the business is product limited. You can't do much without a product. After the company establishes product market fit, the pendulum swings to go-to-market.