The Average SaaS CEO is About 37.5 Years Young

A few years back, Aileen Lee and Cowboy Ventures put out 2 seminal posts on TechCrunch about Unicorns. The first one defined the Unicorn age in 2013, and the second one updated it in 2015.

Many remember them just for data on Unicorns as they began to emerge from rare to seemingly everyday (100+ this year so far).  But her and her team’s post also had tons of other amazing data, from what % of start-ups have solo founders to average age at inception.

Aileen / Cowboy found in 2015 that SaaS founders at founding were 35 years young on average, and 39 in the enterprise:

The average age at founding was 34 years old (same as our last post). Audience-based company founders were 30 at founding; e-commerce founders were 32; SaaS founders were 35; CE/IoT founders were 36; and enterprise founders were 39.

We actually don’t have much data at SaaStr on our community members.  We don’t ask for almost any information from our readers, viewers, podcastees, etc.  We probably could ask for it, or enrich the data we have, but we don’t today.  But we do get a tiny bit of opt-in demographic data from our events.

And almost 10,000 CEOs have come to SaaStr events over the years (!).  We’ll have 4,000+ CEOs and founders out of the 15,000+ attendees at 2020 SaaStrAnnual.com on March 10-11-12 in San Jose / SF Bay Area.

So I took a quick look at age demographics in particular.  Here’s what I learned:

  • The average CEO at a SaaStr event is 37.5 years old.  This is very close to Cowboy’s data.  A bit younger, but not that much.
  • Just as many are 40 as 30.
  • Far more are 50 than 20.   4x more.
  • Almost as many are 60 as 20.

Now we don’t have the data on when they started, which the Cowboy analyses did.  My guess is on average 3 years ago, because the average attendee now is at about $4m ARR (up dramatically from the first SaaStr Annual in 2015).  So perhaps the average SaaStr CEO started around 34.  And averages can be a bit misleading.

Still, with a pretty large CEO data set, this seems pretty consistent with Aileen’s data.  And even further emphasizes SaaS is a long game.

SaaS is good for folks going long.

Be intense, always be hiring, never quit.  And settle in.  It’s a good career for your 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s.

Welcome To The Unicorn Club, 2015: Learning From Billion-Dollar Companies

Published on December 7, 2019

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