18 years to $100m ARR and unicorn exit
You want it to be faster, but sometimes, it just takes longer
Stay with it https://t.co/8EAqHBQy6S
— Jason ✨Be Kind✨ Lemkin (@jasonlk) November 2, 2020
Mailchimp just had the largest exit yet for a private SaaS company. $12 Billon to Intuit. Incredible. But it was a full 20 years after founding.
Coupa not too long ago did its first $1B+ acquisition, of 18+ year old Llamsoft. It took Llamasoft 18 years to get to $100m ARR, and 18 years to a $1B+ exit. It inspired me to update a post on how long in SaaS it takes to get to a $1B acquisition.
Now some deals are happening faster. Divvy was acquired by Bill for $2.2 Billion just 5 years after founding. And the size of exits keeps going up, as Cloud keeps getting bigger.
But overall … are things even faster these days to a $1B exit? Solid cash on the table? And the answer now, even with faster funding rounds, seems to be about the same. A decade.
There will be a lot more billion+ acquisitions in Cloud and SaaS, if only because there are more decacorns to buy them. Salesforce, PayPal, Adobe, Shopify, ServiceNow, Square, Atlassian, and Zoom are now worth $50B+ or more. HubSpot and Zendesk and Bill and more are worth $10B-$20B+. The average public SaaS and Cloud leader in fact is worth $10 Billion today. They all can buy something:
How long did the $12 Billion (!) deal for Intuit to acquire Mailchimp? 12 months. A full year.
And it was the last call Ben Chestnut took. pic.twitter.com/kfi8I9Jx8q
— Jason ✨Be Kind✨ Lemkin (@jasonlk) January 25, 2023
So how long does it take to get acquired for a billion? There’s not quite as much data as with IPOs and unicorn VC rounds. But it looks like about a decade, which is what you’d expect. And for every Divvy that gets there in a stunning 5 years, there are also seemingly just as mange Innoyze and Acquia-type $1B+ exits that take 10, 14, even 25 years (!):
Looker, Velocity and iZettle got there fast, in 6-7 years. Auth0 got to a $6.5B acquisition by Okta is just 8 years (to signing). ClickSoftware took 22 years, by contrast!
(Note: the above list isn’t perfect, and I took out public SaaS companies that were acquired, and only included a limited number of PE deals. But it gives you a sense).
There are 500+ and Cloud unicorns today and there will soon be 100 public SaaS and Cloud companies But being acquired for $1B+ is a little different … it’s some big tech company coming up with a ton of cash (sometimes stock, but you get the point) to buy you. It’s a bigger deal than a VC firm investing at $1B pre-money, in many ways.
But there will be a bunch more $1B+ acquisitions coming in SaaS.
You can’t get there in just a few years. Go long.
(note: an re-updated SaaStr post)