Here’s a quick retrospective on the top Kellblog posts (as measured by views) of 2018.
- The Domo S-1: Does the Emperor Have Clothes? The IPO priced at $21.00 per share, the first day of trading finished at $27.30, and it closed Friday at $16.57, off 21% from the IPO price and nearly 40% from the day-one closing price. With a current market cap of $436M, it’s down over 80% from its peak private valuation of $2.3B. It’s the only stock I’ve ever shorted, and I’m still short . I feel that this company, operating in the relatively crowded BI market, epitomizes what’s wrong with Silicon Valley  today in terms of over-funded, over-hyped, founder-cult startups.
- Career Development: What It Really Means to be a Manager, Director, or VP. The number two post of 2018 was actually written in 2015! That says a lot about this very special post which appears to have simply nailed it in capturing the hard-to-describe but incredibly important differences between operating at the manager, director, or VP level. I must admit I love this post, too, because it was literally twenty years in the making. I’d been asked so many times “what does it really mean to operate at the director level” that it was cathartic when I finally found the words to express the answer.
- The SaaS Rule of 40. No surprise here. Love it or not, understanding the rule of 40 is critical when running a SaaS business. Plenty of companies don’t obey the rule of 40 — it’s a very high bar. And it’s not appropriate in all circumstances. But something like 80% of public company SaaS market capitalization is captured by the companies that adhere to it. It’s the PEG ratio of modern SaaS.
- The Role of Professional Services in a SaaS Company. I was surprised and happy to see that this post made the top five. In short, the mission of services in a SaaS company is “to maximize ARR while not losing money.” SaaS companies don’t need the 25-35% services margins of their on-premises counterparts. They need happy, renewing customers. Far better to forgo modest profits on services in favor of subsidizing ARR both in new customer acquisition and in existing customer success to drive renewals. Services are critical in a SaaS company, but you shouldn’t measure them by services margins.
- The Customer Acquisition Cost Ratio: Another Subtle SaaS Metric. The number five post of 2018 actually dates back to 2013! The post covers all the basics of measuring your cost to acquire a customer or a $1 of ARR. In 2019 I intend to update my fundamentals posts on CAC and churn, but until then, this post stands strong in providing a comprehensive view of the CAC ratio and how to calculate it. Most SaaS companies lose money on customer acquisition (i.e., “sell dollars for 80 cents”) which in turn begs two critical questions: how much do they lose and how quickly do they get it back? I’m happy to see a “fun with fundamentals” type post still running in the top five.
 See disclaimer that I’m not a financial analyst and I don’t make buy/sell recommendations.
 Broadly defined. I know they’re in Utah.