It’s Never Too Late to Go Upmarket (See, E.g., PagerDuty, RingCentral, Asana, etc.)

A while back on SaaStr we put out “How to Build a $100 Billion SaaS Company”. At the time Salesforce was the only $100b+ SaaS company, though today there are ~15 more gunning for $100b in valuation, which means $100b isn’t “outlier” status anymore. It’s achievable.

One thing I learned putting the post together is how much Salesforce is still accelerating in its bigger accounts.

While Salesforce’s most mature CRM business is only growing in the teens on its own, its $20m+ ACV customers are growing 70%!!

It’s not just Salesforce.

Shopify announced it had crossed 1,000,000 customers (!!) last year.  And you probably think of Shopify as primarily an e-commerce store for snowboards and other small businesses.

But the fast-growing segment at $35b+ Shopify? Its largest, “Shopify Plus” customers:

Shopify’s biggest accounts have grown from almost 0% of their revenue 5 years ago to 27% today. And more importantly, that’s up from 24% just a year ago. So the Bigger Customers at Shopify, like Salesforce, are out accelerating the rest.

Fast forward 5 years or so, and the majority of Shopify’s revenue should be from enterprise customers.  But it will have taken 20 years from founding to get there:

One big difference between Salesforce and Shopify: both started SMB, but Salesforce quickly tilted to the enterprise. Shopify, by contrast, waited over a decade before taking bigger customers seriously as a distinct product line and segment.

We can see the same story at these “later bloomers”, that stayed SMB for a long time until finally going more upmarket and enterprise:

  • RingCentral, which also waited almost a decade to grow from SMBs into what is today primarily an enterprise play.
  • Asana, which grew from PLG to 50/50 sales-driven and self-service revenue.
  • PagerDuty, which IPO’d at $125m in ARR being almost entirely SMB and smaller customers, and then went very upmarket and at $250m ARR was fueled by enterprise deals.

The lesson? Most of us end up going upmarket.  Some don’t, of course, and stick to their SMB roots. HubSpot, at least so far, has remained primarily SMB for example.  Bill.com as well.

Sometimes, we’re in a rush to do it early. Sometimes we wait a decade like Shopify + Ringcentral + Asana + UserTesting + PagerDuty and more.

In any event, it’s never too late. If nothing else, get on a Zoom, better yet, get on a jet, and just go learn from your biggest customers. Listen to them. And decide if you want to follow them further upmarket.

And if you aren’t ready now, that’s OK.  At least learn what it would take to go more upmarket. You may be ready to go more upmarket next year. Or even in a decade.

A bit more here:

Why There Is a 50/50 Chance You’ll Tilt Upmarket in SaaS

Published on March 5, 2022

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