SaaStr is turning 10!
What started as a simple WordPress blog in 2012 has now become the world’s largest community of SaaS executives, founders, and entrepreneurs.
The SaaStr Annual is the largest non-vendor event in the industry, with 10,000+ attendees from all across the world coming together each year in the SF Bay Area. And SaaStr Europa brings 2,500+ SaaS execs, founders, and VCs together to Europe every summer.
SaaStr began in 2012 as a simple WordPress blog and a few answers on Quora sharing Jason Lemkin’s learnings of going from $0 to $100m ARR at Adobe Sign / EchoSign. This led to our first meet-ups in 2013 and 2014, the first SaaStr Annual in 2015, the industry’s leading podcast in 2016, the first SaaS founder coworking space in 2017, and SaaStr Pro, the first learning management system for SaaS founders in 2018. We also launched an affiliated $90m venture fund and had our inaugural SaaStr Europa event in Paris of 2018.
2019 saw SaaStr Annual’s biggest event yet – 12,000 global community members came together to take over the Bay Area and it became the event Where the Cloud Meets. The CEOs and leaders of Zoom, Twilio, Pagerduty, Dropbox, and more were all there. It was a hit!
We sold out Europa 2019 and were immediately planning for 15,000+ Founders and CEOs to attend Annual 2020. We were on track, attendance numbers were stronger than ever before. But then..
The day our trucks started rolling into the venue, we got the call the county was closing and immediately locking down due to the emerging outbreak of COVID-19.
We were a bit bummed (as you might imagine).
We told everyone to stay home and follow the guidelines.
We went digital!
Our first live, global digital event in April 2020, SaaStr Summit had Stewart Butterfield, CEO and Founder of Slack, Jeff Lawson, Co-Founder and CEO of Twilio, and many others, coming together to help everyone navigate what to do next. More than 16,000 people tuned in live. We kinda broke Zoom and streaming, so we kept producing digital content while we were all at home.
Fast forward 1 year, 8 digital events, and 2 shots later, we announced in May 2021 that SaaStr Annual 2021 was on!
We completely re-booted the Annual. We took it outside and open-air, fully tested and vaxxedd. We were the first major SaaS event back in the SF Bay Area. We became the first festival-style completely outdoor and safe gathering for our community to come together.
While we initially weren’t sure everyone would want to come meet up outside — it was exactly what the community needed. Over 6,000 came, even with visas to visit from countries outside the U.S. almost impossible in 2021.
Many teams got to come together and meet each other in person for the first time. VCs were able to meet with Founders. Founders were able to recruit on-site. Revenue leaders were able to network once again. So we took our learnings from our first successful outdoor event and brought back SaaStr Europa in 2022. We went outdoors to sunny Barcelona for our highest NPS event ever.
And now, SaaStr is turning 10 right as we gear up for SaaStr Annual 2022. We’ll be back outside, taking over the Bay Area in September, and are extremely grateful our community has been able to grow throughout the years and still get together once a year in the Bay Area. So big thanks to everyone who’s read our content, listened to the podcast, or come to an event.
Here’s to the Next 10!
SaaStr Annual Throughout the Years
2012 The First Blog Posts — SaaStr.com Blog Launches, Goes a Bit Viral
Our second post, on August 23, 2012 “Everybody Lies: SaaS Revenues in the Inc. 5000” went a bit viral when Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, and a few others liked and promoted it:
2013 and 2014 First Meet-Ups
With more and more folks reading SaaStr, and becoming passionate about it, it seemed like it was time to try a meet-up. We’d never done one, but we did one without any content, just a chance for SaaS founders and VCs to share learnings. And it was a hit — over 300 came and we were packed. We then did a second Social in 2014, the first with content, and over 500 came, and it was sold out and packed. It was time to go bigger.
2015 The First SaaStr Annual: Escape Velocity
Waaay back in 2014, the type of content at SaaStr.com, on Quora, and at our events was still novel. But it had clearly touched a nerve, and 2015 saw an explosion in content views:
Fast forward to today, and there is an amazing amount of B2B-centric content out there, and many others have put together amazing events around the hard-learned lessons of scaling revenue and scaling SaaS companies. But all this was pretty novel back in 2013-2015.
No one in the “next generation” had IPO’d yet (Aaron Levie came to the first SaaStr Annual a little more than a week after Box’s IPO), and Unicorn rounds were close to unheard of (Atlassian had raised $60m at $400m valuation!! Whoa!! Everyone couldn’t believe it), and Slack was a cool little app some of us had just fallen in love with. But we decided it was a good idea, and a few weeks later, planned the first-ever full-day, non-vendor SaaS event.
It was awesome.
With Aaron Levie, Stewart Butterfield, David Sacks (fresh off Yammer’s acquisition for $1b+, which seemed so high at the time), Leyla Seka from Salesforce, David Ulevitch from OpenDNS (who sold to Cisco just a few months later for $800m, which again seemed enormous at the time), and the list went on. . .
After the first, we knew that doing the big Annual was a non-negotiable.
It would happen every year. It would get bigger and better. And we had only scratched the surface of what this gathering could really mean for SaaS.
2016 The Second SaaStr Annual: From Impossible to Inevitable
The first $100M is always the hardest. We now had 100+ speakers, expanded to three days, two stages, and zero fluff. The founders and execs of the most successful SaaS companies candidly shared their playbooks, learnings, and expertise on the Strategy Stage.
We had Lew Cirne, Founder & CEO of New Relic, Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder & CTO of HubSpot, and for the first time at Annual, we added office hours with the top VCs in SaaS. We facilitated 150, 30-minute 1:1 meeting sessions to connect VCs and Founders. It’s since grown into our yearly, uber-popular Meet a VC Program, but back in 2016, it was the first of its kind to really connect top-tier VCs with Founders and a live event.
2017 The Third SaaStr Annual: Scale Together
By our third event, SaaStr Annual became the leading event for the world’s SaaS experts to come together to learn, share, and play. We doubled our stages to 4 and spread out across the Bill Graham theatre in downtown San Francisco.
Back in 2017, the average company brought 2.3 total attendees, e.g., a CEO + a VP of Sales and a VP of Customer Success, or two Co-Founders, or CEO + CTO, etc. Because of this, we broke up a lot of the event around different functional areas and areas of interest, including our first Tuesday night evening parties, and the very first Big Party with DJ Premiere at the Regency.
Each day was a bit different, but a ton of fun. The CEOs, CXOs, and SVPs from the folks that have really done it: Box, Nutanix (had just IPO’d for a cool $4b), Apttus, Oracle, ServiceMax (was just acquired for a cool $1b), Gainsight, Mulesoft, Gusto, Host Analytics, Salesloft, OpenDNS, Lyft Enterprise, Zinc, DoubleDutch, Replicon, Hubspot, Segment, Quip, Dialpad, Expensify, and more were all there.
2018 The Fourth SaaStr Annual: Learn and Scale Together
Thousands of founders, executives, and VCs gathered once again in San Francisco to share their stories, exchange ideas, and meet like-minded folks at the SaaStr Annual event from February 6–8, 2018. We expanded to 5 stages this year and was the first time we tried “Meet The Experts” (now our Mastermind Sessions). These smaller, more intimate sessions featured some of our favorite industry leaders speaking on their subject matter expertise then leading the audience in Q&A to help them solve real, tangible problems they are facing in their roles.
The Big Party at the Masonic had The English Beat, and this was the first year we experimented with more networking. We added Braindates (which we’ve since expanded) to bring 1:1 and 1:4 (small groups) to help attendees meet one another. We had more workshops for Product, CS & Eng from Plato, and more everything!
So much more, we oversold the venue in downtown San Francisco, and it was clear that we wanted to keep Annual in the Bay Area going forward, but find a bit more space for our growing community.
2019 The Fifth SaaStr Annual: Where the Cloud Meets
OK, so since we outgrew downtown San Francisco, this was our first foray into the extended Bay Area. We moved to the entire San Jose Convention Center, plus all of downtown first street for the first SaaStr Nights and the connecting hotels.
We had 12,000+ Founders, CEOs, Revenue Leaders, and VCs make the trek to San Jose on Feb 5-6-7 2019. This was also the first time on-site 400+ Desk Co-working Space! (Now a staple!) This will was our first Co-Working space where folks could take break, catch up on work, or write a live blog post. We had a huge, light-filled giant space to just plug in and get some work done.
We also added a real, true gated session registration. With 3 days of content and 300 speakers featuring Zoom, Twilio, WordPress, Qualtrics, Intercom, Hubspot, Stripe, Plaid, Brex, and hundreds more. It made it super easy for people to choose their sessions and build their agenda.
SaaStr Nights was an epic block party on the super-cool Arts District on First Avenue, and we shut the entire thing down for informal parties and meet-ups at all the cool spots. Gainsight had a Speakeasy at Cafe Stritch, Pendo a Karaoke bar at The Ritz, Zoom a Founders Meet-Up at The Continental, we had free and fun Rock Climbing all night, DJs in the street, Mixmax had a Sales Extravaganza at Forager, Lighter Capital had a Taco Bootstrappers party at Tac-Oh, and a Ferris Wheel!
“Night at The Museum” took over the very cool Tech Museum. It was huge and had tons of fun exhibits, so it was a quieter place to explore and meet new friends.
2020 SaaStr Annual At Home
With everyone sheltered in place, and SaaStr moving to digital events, we brought the speakers and companies who were due to Speak at SaaStr Annual to a global, digital, live SaaStr Annual at Home. For the first time in 6 years, we went fully digital for an immersive two-day experience on Sept 2-3, 2020.
Our team produced 50+ live, handcrafted sessions to help everyone scale through 2020. We added networking and mentorship digitally for the first time online. We broke our global audience up into tactical and deep dive sessions using breakout rooms in Zoom.
We had over 50,000+ people tune in LIVE from around the world for SaaStr. It solidified our stance on making sure none of our content was ever pre-recorded so that our international community could always join and tune in and be part of a SaaStr event no matter where they are in the world.
2021 SaaStr Annual: The First Where the Cloud Meets Festival
Back together again! Re-united in-person with our global SaaS community (and it felt so good!)
We’re going to be honest here, everyone said it couldn’t be done.
No other major SaaS, Cloud, or Tech event was scheduled for 2021. Everyone thought it was too early. We asked if we could take over the entire 40+ acres of the San Mateo County Fairgrounds with tents to have the first festival-style SaaS event. We got some odd looks.
We told our AV team we wanted to put stages outside. We told our production team we wanted to run power and build booths outside. We bought every tent possible. We hooked up wifi outside. We figured out how to get 5,000 people into the venue safely. We brought on a dedicated Health & Safety team. The list goes on and on. It was a complete re-boot of SaaStr Annual.
But thankfully, everyone LOVED it. SaaStr Annual 2021 was the largest SaaS and tech event of 2021. We brought all the core pieces of SaaStr back together, outdoors, completely festival style. We helped Founders meet VCs face-to-face. Teams saw one another in-person instead of behind a screen for the first time. VPs were able to recruit and make new hires. We had world-renowned DJ duo Cash-Cash come have a private set at the Big Party. Everything was a 10, and we’re absolutely thrilled that the next Annual for 2022 gets to celebrate 10 years of SaaStr!
2022 SaaStr Europa is Back in Barcelona, Bigger than Ever!! And SaaStr Annual 2022 in Sep 13-15
We brought SaaStr Europa to the beach in June 2022, bringing almost 3,000 SaaStr and Cloud execs, founders, and VCs together. It was our nighest NPS ever, with the most mentorship sessions ever, and folks loved it.
And now, we’re almost there. SaaStr Annual 2022, Sep 13-15 in the SF Bay Area!! Again, outdoors, open air, tested and vaxxed. 10,000+ of the best in SaaS, the best speakers, the best mentors, the best CEOs, CROs, CMOs, and more. And with Dreamforce and Inbound now smaller gatherings for now — the clear #1 place to be this year in SaaS.