Reading social media, tech press, and blog posts you’d think everything was about efficiency.  Heck, the 5 Interesting Learning series on SaaStr is all about efficiency.

And for many in SaaS, especially those that sell mainly to startups and tech, it’s often been a rough 2 years.  With no more funding coming, and growth way down.

So can you pay less these days?  Is hiring any easier?  Not really.  Or at least, not that much.  Not for most of us.

Why?  Well, the best in SaaS and venture and Cloud are not just still growing at epic rates, but they’re still acquiring so much funding … they can still run the 2021 playbook.  More or less.  The companies that can run this playbook today are only the best of the best.  But they can, and are, still running it.  The best can still burn millions and millions a month and pay top-tier or even higher salaries.  Put differently, maybe 80% of unicorns can’t do this anymore.  But the top 20% can, and often are.

We aren’t all Wiz, or Rippling, or OpenAI, etc.  But there are just enough of those, especially in the AI Boom of 2023-2024+, that a subset of venture-backed startups are still running the Grow, Grow, Grow playbook.  In many cases, quite effectively. 

If you’re Wiz above, and got to $350m ARR in just 4 years, well of course you are going to hire 400 this year.  And you aren’t going to underpay.  It’s time to dominate.  And for the very, very best startups, VC checkbooks are wide open.  As wide open as ever — for the best of the best.

I caught up with a CRO the other day that had just joined one of these outliers.  “I was totally shocked at what we were paying”, he said.

Yes, of the 1,000+ Unicorns of the boom era, maybe only 200 will end up making it.  But of those 200, maybe 50-100 can still run the 2021 Playbook.

And the best talent will still be attracted to those 50-100.

Can you fully compete?  Maybe not.  But you at least need to be aware that there is a pocket of 2021 that still exists.  Software spend is still growing at all-time high rates, to $1 Trillion in spend this year.  And the AI Boom may be a bit of hot air, but it’s still quite real.

“Holding the line” and getting more and more efficient makes sense on paper.  But it’s still a competitive word out there.  It’s complicated.

Capchase: The Best SaaS Startups Are Still Growing 100%-200% To $10m ARR and Beyond

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