Q: How many employees does a SaaS company have at 100M ARR?
It used to be about 500. Now it’s often closer to 1000, with Unicorns raising so much more private capital than before.
Tomasz Tunguz did a great analysis here a little while back on public SaaS companies: Revenue per Employee Benchmarks of Billion Dollar Companies
“[in public SaaS companies, [the typical average revenue per employee is about $190k to $210k per year … Salesforce (CRM) and LinkedIn (LNKD) are much closer to the average range while other darlings like WorkDay (WDAY) and Tableau (DATA) are close to $100k.”
What’s changed since a lot of those companies IPO’d is most SaaS companies raising $370m+ before IPO’ing (!). More on that here:
All that capital is being used to hire more folks ahead of growth. 1000 employees at $100m in ARR (i.e., $100k per employee) is not uncommon today. (In my own investments, 800 is the most efficient at $100m in ARR).
Ultimately though, that’s not sustainable. The average SaaS company employee, fully burdened, costs much more than $100k a year.
Let’s look at a few companies when they IPO’d:
- Zoom was one of the most efficient of the revenue SaaS companies to IPO — at $300,000 per employee. Back at $700m in ARR, growing 85% annually (wow!), they had 2,220 employees and were profitable. That’s a bit over $300,000 in revenue per employee.
- Samsara is a recent rocketship, IPO’ing at $500m ARR with many SMB and SME customers and a big salesforce, with 1,500 employees. So that’s again $300,000 per employee in a high-velocity, sales-driven model.
- Expensify is the most extreme example we can find in SaaS, at $1m per employee at IPO. But being mostly self-serve and PLG/viral, with tons of functions outsourced to contractors, that’s about as extreme as you’ll see.
So $250k-$300k per employee, probably that’s where you need to end up in SaaS. You can just wait longer to get that efficient if you are growing at Unicorn+ rates, and/or are well funded. Because there’s so much more capital available to those few.
But in the end, you probably need to end up at about $300k per employee or close to it to truly be profitable or at least cash-flow positive.
You can also use this to back into the revenues for a lot of private companies. More on how here: How to Figure Out Your Competitors’ Revenues in About 70 Seconds | SaaStr