Tom Tunguz

What is a Best in Class Payback Period for a Software Company in 2020?

Tom Tunguz

Payback period is one of the best composite diagnostic metrics of product market fit. I've written before about the benefits of short payback periods. In short, startups with shorter payback periods require less capital and also grow more quickly. In 2020, what is an excellent payback period[1]?

Trust is at the Core of Software Marketing

Tom Tunguz

Today, the world's most valuable brand is Apple. Forbes estimates Apple's brand is worth $205B. Why is Apple's brand worth so much? It's the trust the brand inspires in consumers. Apple customers know Apple the company. They understand the product philososphy, the history, the quality of typical Apple products, and the reputation for quality. A strong brand is the lagging indicator of having built trust. We won't buy from people or companies we don't trust. The same is true in software.

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B2B vs B2C: How Should Your Sales Team Be Allocated to Maximize Success?

Tom Tunguz

If you're starting a SaaS company, should you prefer to sell to B2B or B2C companies? And if you would like to sell to both, how should you allocate your sales teams? If you were to hazard a guess about the share of B2C vs B2B companies, what would it be?

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Which Categories of Seed Startups are Thriving? Which Aren't?

Tom Tunguz

Which sectors see more startup company formation than others? The answer has changed quite a bit over the last 8 years. Some sectors have hit their apogee and are declining. Others have grown by more than 3x. Yet others are growing geometrically. Let’s take a look. Hot Spaces.

Driving Discovery and Experimentation in your Organization

Speaker: Teresa Torres, Product Discovery Coach, Product Talk, David Bland, Founder and CEO, Precoil, and Hope Gurion, Product Coach and Advisor, Fearless Product LLC

If you want to build what matters, you can't move forward blindly. But to make progress, you can't let things slow to a crawl while you focus resources on gathering data. This is where continuous discovery and experimentation come in. Join Teresa Torres (Product Discovery Coach, Product Talk), David Bland (Founder, Precoil), and Hope Gurion (Product Coach and Advisor, Fearless Product) in a panel discussion as they cover how - and why - to build a culture of discovery and experimentation in your organization.

The Radically Different Early Stage Fundraising Market

Tom Tunguz

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.

The Strategic Question at Seed Today

Tom Tunguz

I’ve written before about the Jacob’s Ladder of Fundraising. The Jacob’s Ladder is a children’s toy that flips over, and it’s a great metaphor for the seed market. Seed rounds are rapidly approaching and now often equal to the sizes of Series As just five years ago.

The SaaS Valuation Environment in Mid-2019

Tom Tunguz

Every six months or so, I take a look at how the public markets are valuing next-generation software companies. There’s been quite a bit of volatility over the last five years, and this update is no exception. As of mid-June, the public markets value software companies at all-time highs.

Setting the Salesforce/Tableau Acquisition in Context

Tom Tunguz

Yesterday, Salesforce announced it would acquire Tableau for $15.7B. Tableau sells data visualization software and the team has built an incredible business. We analyzed the S-1 in 2014. The company has grown since its public offering to generate about $1.1B in revenue, growing at 29%.

Benchmarking Slack's S-1: How 7 Key Metrics Stack Up

Tom Tunguz

Slack has transformed the way we work. By replacing email with beautiful and simple internal chat, Slack has productized productivity. Founded as a gaming company called Tiny Speck in 2009, the company’s initial product, Glitch, didn’t catch on as expected.

The Magic of Intent: Start Knowing The Goals of Your Users

Speaker: Terhi Hanninen, Senior Product Manager, Zalando, and Dr. Franziska Roth, Senior User Researcher, Zalando

It's important to know your users - what are their preferences, pain points, ultimate goals? With user research and usage data, you can get a great idea of how your users act. The tricky part is, very few users reliably act the same way every time they use your product. Join Terhi Hanninen, Senior Product Manager, and Dr. Franziska Roth, Senior User Researcher at Zalando, as they explain how they were able to reach a new level of user understanding - by taking their user research and segmenting their users by point-in-time intent. You'll leave with a strategy to change how your product team, and organization at large, understands your users.

The Health of the US Venture Market in 2020

Tom Tunguz

We are 12 years into the longest bull market in US history and this bullishness has powered the venture market. Investors deployed $117 billion in 2019 up from $106 billion in 2018. This market has grown 20% over the last five years. It's been go, go, go for nearly a decade.

The 13 Critical Questions to Answer about Your Startup's Product Marketing

Tom Tunguz

Last week’s post on The Most Frequent Mishire in Startups generated the most comments on a post this year. In particular, it was this section. Though the startup may have achieved product market fit, the company may not understand the fit. Who is using the product and why? How does the buyer journey evolve with time? How do buyers describe the product amongst each other? Few early stage companies can answer those questions accurately. Why is this?

How to Develop Best in Class Sales Efficiency

Tom Tunguz

A public market investors asked me if there are any patterns in the list of recent software IPOs with the best sales efficiencies. As I looked through the list, I noticed one. All of these businesses sell bottom up with small initial ACVs that grow dramatically.

Viewing Valuation as a Discount of Future Value

Tom Tunguz

Why does growth rate matter so much? Why does growth rate influence valuation so much? I was reading a book recently written by a hedge fund manager who discussed valuation frameworks. His explanation was one of the best I’ve come across.

Encouraging Innovation in an Established Product Culture

Speaker: Richard Cardran, Chief Creative Officer and VP Strategy, HIA Technologies

Innovation is both a process and an outcome. The best way to begin innovating your products is by innovating your internal process. We'll explore the challenges, solutions, and hands-on techniques for becoming a successful "agent of change" within a well-established product culture. We'll examine the importance of UX and user-centric feature analysis, the adaptation of Agile Methodologies to the creative process, as well as a way to drive successful culture change for setting expectations and winning approvals with cross-functional stakeholders. Innovation and Leadership go hand in hand. Join Richard Cardran, Chief Creative Officer and VP Strategy, HIA Technologies, as we assess some case studies to see how to lead with a clear strategy well-defined tactics, and an unbiased understanding of the fundamental question: "why are you innovating?"

Do SaaS Startups Still Require Less Capital than 10 Years Ago?

Tom Tunguz

In 2014, I published a post called Do Startup Require Less Capital to Succeed than 10 Years Ago ? It’s been five years and time to see how things have changed. In the analysis, I created a metric, the return on invested capital (ROIC).

The Most Frequent Mishire in Startups

Tom Tunguz

The most frequent mishire in startups is the first head of marketing. Many different disciplines fall under marketing’s purview. The question facing founders recruiting marketers is: which is the most important to prioritize? Marketing expertise falls into three segments: product marketing, demand generation, and brand marketing. Each of these kinds of marketers have critical skills for a startup.

Benchmarking Zoom's S-1:How 7 Key Metrics Stack Up

Tom Tunguz

In the past few years, Zoom has become a verb: the act of video conferencing someone. Eight years ago, Eric Yuan, former VP Engineering at WebEx left to create a business with a better video conferencing product. He and his team authored a new codec, which is far more resilient than others.

Where Have All the Angels Gone?

Tom Tunguz

Rewind a decade. Angel investing was an important part of the Startupland ecosystem. Today, you can’t make the same argument. 2018 observed the fewest number of angel-led financing rounds since before 2010. Angels led 156 rounds last year, a figure that collapsed from 714 in 2015.

Embedding Operational Reports: Everything Product Managers Should Know

Speaker: Dean Yao, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Logi Analytics

Businesses are run with analytics - but companies continue to struggle with interpreting, analyzing, and distributing data. Operational reports help get information to the people who need it most, in formats they understand, and in a timeframe that matters. Join the webinar to learn how embedding operational reports can give your users a precisely formatted, ready-to-analyze view of their operational activities. World-class software teams are embedding operational reports to empower end users with interactive data visualizations, detailed information, and highly precise formats that can be shared via email, PDF, print, or online.

As Your Sales Team Scales, Focus on Your Middle

Tom Tunguz

Imagine a hypothetical startup with 10 account executives that is growing quickly. This startup has two AEs that outperform meaningfully, six that are at typical quota attainment, and two that are underperforming. Where should your sales enablement team focus their time?

The State of the Startup IPO Market

Tom Tunguz

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.

Should Your Startup Differentiate On Pricing?

Tom Tunguz

Startups are innovation machines. They identify market opportunities, develop novel products and go out to change the world. Some companies want to change the world in one dimension: a better product or a disruptive go-to-market.

100k+ ACV SaaS Companies: Do Their Metrics Differ from Other SaaS Companies?

Tom Tunguz

When we published the results of the freemium survey earlier this year , we noticed respondents targeting the enterprise observed higher net dollar retention and lower churn than those startups targeting other segments.

Your 2-Part Metrics Audit for High-Value Products

Speaker: Sam McAfee, Product Development Consultant, Startup Patterns

You know what they say: what's measured improves. As product managers we're in a golden age of being able to get all sorts of metrics and run all sorts of experiments. But what are your measurements and analytics focused on? Are they really truly objective? Do they contribute to the ultimate vision of your product? And is everybody clear on that vision? Join Sam McAfee, Product Development Consultant, as he takes you through a two-part measurement audit. First, you'll learn how to make sure your measurements actually align with your product strategy. And second, you'll learn how to evaluate your culture of using measurements, so future experiments will more consistently provide high-value results.

Benchmarking Your Sales and Customer Success Teams

Tom Tunguz

Our portfolio company Chorus.ai released the State of Conversational Intelligence 2020. The report uses data from 5m sales and customer calls to benchmark sales team performance. There’s lots of great data in the report. Some of the data reaffirms rules of thumb. For example, the typical win rate of a sales qualified lead is 19%. Other data points are surprising. For example, the average SDR dials 106 people to schedule one meeting.

1.01^365 = 37.7

Tom Tunguz

Before we’d leave campus - Christmas vacation or spring break or summer vacation - our rowing coach would tell us, “You’re either getting faster or you’re getting slower. There’s no such thing as staying the same.” It was his way of inspiring us to train hard during those times.

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A Mental Model for Prioritizing Your Startup's Energies

Tom Tunguz

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 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.

The Early Discipline of Remote Startups

Tom Tunguz

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.

Measure the Immeasurable: Beyond Vanity Metrics

Speaker: Sari Harrison, Product Management Instructor, Product School

As a product manager, it's your job to realize your product’s vision by executing your chosen strategy. It’s also your job to deliver value to the business. Ultimately, these two outcomes are aligned so the temptation is to focus primarily on business metrics. Doing this can cause you to lose focus on the real value you are trying to achieve, in favor of moving the vanity metrics such as launches and time spent. Join Sari Harrison, Product Management Instructor at Product School, as she explains how to use immeasurable success criteria along with your more standard KPIs to deliver products that don't just get used a lot, but deliver real value.

Observations from the Enterprise Tech 30 List

Tom Tunguz

published the Enterprise Tech 30 last week. It’s a coaches poll of the top enterprise startups broken into early, mid and growth stage.

Benchmarking DataDog's S-1: How 7 Key Metrics Stack up

Tom Tunguz

Recently, we’ve seen a series of product-driven companies building huge customer bases with tremendous account expansion and terrific sales efficiency. DataDog is no exception. DataDog provides a very popular IT monitoring solution that has grown from its founding in 2010 to a huge business.

A Random Walk Down Sand Hill Road

Tom Tunguz

Bernie Munger is famous for championing the idea of mental models. Mental models help us think about the world by simplifying very complex topics into more digestible and tractable ideas. The challenge with mental models is first learning about them and second figuring out which model applies when.

The Redpoint 2020 Go To Market Survey

Tom Tunguz

Go to market questions are some of the most common questions startups discuss in board meetings. This is especially true around the end of year because many companies develop their financial plans. To help startups understand how their go to market teams compare to peers, Redpoint has constructed a survey. You can find the survey here. The survey will answer questions like: How does the sales team structure differ by stage? by target buyer? by price point?

Build Delightful Products with Customer Validation

Speaker: John Little, Head of Product Marketing, Centercode

When it comes to delivering a solid product/market fit, customer validation is key. After all, you want to provide customers with a product that not only fills the need, but is delightful -- right? To get there, you need to commit to a vital blend of market research, strategy, and user testing. Join John Little, Head of Product Marketing at Centercode, as he explains a two-part approach to customer validation. First, how do you strategically identify your top product areas that need attention prior to release. And second, how do you turn user data into strategic priorities that help the right teams make the right decisions.

Series A SaaS Startup Benchmarks for 2018

Tom Tunguz

How far along was the typical SaaS Series A in 2018? The median business was at $1.8M in ARR and growing at 250%. The chart below shows a representative sample of SaaS Series As’ ARR and projected ARR growth rate for 2018.