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 ✨BeKind✨ Lemkin ⚫️ (@jasonlk) November 2, 2020
In 2020 Coupa 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.
Unicorns are being minted faster than ever. But … 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 and Zoom are now worth $100B+. Hubspot and Twilio and Coupa and Wix are worth $10B+. They all can buy something, or really several startups like Twilio has, for $1B+ now:
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 updated SaaStr post)