Category Archives: Valuation

What Drives SaaS Company Valuation? Growth!

If you’ve ever wondered what drives the valuation of a SaaS vendor, then take a look at this chart that a banker showed me the other day.

saas valuations 2The answer, pretty clearly, is revenue growth.  The correlation is stunning.   Taking some points off the line:

  • 10% growth gets you an on-premises-like valuation of 2x (forward) revenues
  • 20% growth gets you 3x
  • 30% growth gets you 4x
  • 50% growth gets you nearly 6x

Basically (growth rate % / 10) + 1 = forward revenue multiple.

You might think that profitability played some role in the valuation equation, but if you did, you’re wrong.  Let’s demonstrate this by looking at CY13 EBITDA margins as reported by the same banker:

  • Marketo (MKTO) -44% with a ~4x revenue multiple
  • Marin Software (MRIN) -40% with a ~4x revenue multiple
  • Workday (WDAY) -22% with a ~11x revenue multiple
  • Bazaarvoice (BV) -6% with a ~5x revenue multiple
  • Cornerstone on Demand (CSOD) 0% with a ~8x revenue multiple
  • Qlik Technologies (QLIK) 13% with a ~3x revenue multiple
  • Tangoe (TNGO) 17% with a ~3x revenue multiple

As you can see, there’s basically no reward for profitability.  In real estate what matters is location, location, location.  In SaaS, it’s growth, growth, and growth.

Highlights from the Jeffries Enterprise Software Update, March 2011

Jeffries puts out a very nice enterprise software monthly update (with mile-long disclaimers and which does not seem to be freely distibuted on the Internet so I cannot link to it).

Nevertheless, I thought I’d share some of the salient highlights from this month’s version.

On M&A:

  • 7 M&A deals in February with consideration above $20M, flat year/year and up from 6 quarter/quarter.
  • Median adjusted price/revenue multiple of 2.4x, up from 1.8x year/year and 1.9x quarter/quarter.
  • TTM median adjusted price/revenue multiple of 3.0x, up from 2.3x year/year and flat quarter/quarter.

On public company valuations (enterprise value to TTM revenue multiple) by category:

  • Virtualization:  7.8x
  • SaaS:  5.8x
  • Healthcare IT:  5.1x
  • Human capital mangement:  4.9x
  • Enterprise content management:  4.2x
  • Data mangement: 3.9x
  • Business intelligence:  3.5x
  • Infrastructure software:  3.1x
  • Systems management: 3.0x
  • Security management:  2.2x
  • ERP:  2.1x

On recent IPOs (median of 8 recent, including Smart, QlikTech, IntraLinks, RealPage, SciQuest, ChinaCache, SkyMobi, and Velti):

  • Most recent quarter revenues:  $26.2M
  • Revenues (year of pricing):  $138M
  • Revenues (forward):  $189M
  • Annual estimated revenue growth:  23%
  • Operating margin:  16%
  • Forward net income:  $20.3M

On the IPO pipeline:

  • 34 companies
  • $6.2B in filings (in proceeds raised by the companies)
  • Filing size:  $182M mean, $100M median (amount proposed to be raised)
  • TTM revenues:  $575M mean, $148M median
  • 52 filings in 4Q10, down from 61 in 4Q09, and down from 63 in 3Q10, yet up from the dark days of 4Q08 (6) and 1Q09 (4)

Highlights from 2Q09 Software Equity Group Report

I’m not sure which better explains my recent decrease in blog post frequency: bit.ly or being out of the office. Either way, I wasn’t kidding a few weeks ago when I said I’m changing my sharing pattern. Much as popular business authors take one good idea and inflate it into a book, I now realize (thanks to bit.ly) that I have been taking what could have been one good tweet and inflating it into a blog post. While I’ve not drawn any definitive conclusions, thus far I’d say I’m sharing many more articles with significantly less effort than before.

Going forward, my guess is that steady state will be ~2 posts/week (instead of ~5), but those posts will supplemented by 5-10 tweets/day (RSS feed here). Because of this, I’ve added the Tweet Blender widget to my home page, made it quite large, and have set it up to include not only my direct tweets (@ramblingman) but all tweets that include the word ramblingman to catch re-tweets and such. This will probably result in the inclusion of odd items from time to time — apologies if anything offensive comes up — and if this becomes a problem I’ll change the setup.

I’ve re-enabled Zemanta after turning it off for several quarters because I found it too slow to justify its value. They’ve put out a new release, and since I’m interested in all things vaguely semantic web, I figured I’d give it another try. Finally, I’m still considering renaming the blog to either Kellblog or Kellogic, but doing so is a daunting project (think of all the links that break) which I’m not yet ready to tackle at present. So, watch this space.

The purpose of this post, however is to present highlights from the Software Equity Group’s 2Q09 Software Industry Equity Report. Here they are:

  • Consensus IT spending forecasts for 2009 predict 8% decrease in overall spending
  • Top five CTO spending priorities from the Goldman Sachs 3/09 survey: cost reduction, diaster recovery, server virtualization, server consolidation, data center consolidation
  • The SEG software index had a 23.7% positive return, bouncing back from a decline in 1Q09
  • Median enterprise value (EV) / sales = 1.4x, up from 1.2x the prior quarter
  • Median EV/EBITDA = 9.4x, up from 7.7x the prior quarter
  • Median EBITDA margin = 14.9%
  • Median net income margin = 3.9%
  • Median TTM revenue growth = 5.2%
  • Baidu and SolarWinds topped the EV/sales charts with values of 16.2x and 10.0x revenues, respectively
  • The great software arbitrage continues with companies >$1B in revenues having a median EV/sales of 2.2x while those <$100M have a mean of 0.7x. This theoretically means that the median big company can buy a median small one and triple its value overnight.
  • Database companies median EV/sales was 1.8x
  • Document/content management companies median EV/sales was 2.4x
  • Median SaaS vendor EV/sales was 2.6x, suggesting that $1 of SaaS revenue is worth $1.70 of perpetual revneue. (Though I worry the overall average includes SaaS so this could be understating it.)
  • Four software companies went public in 2Q09 raising, on median, $182M with an EV of $814M, an EV/revenue of 3.6x, and a first-day return of 17.3%
  • Five companies remain in the IPO pipeline with median revenues of $58.7M, net income of -$2.2M, and growth of 46.4%
  • 285 software M&A deals were done on the quarter with $3.1B in total value. This was down from 296 deals in the prior quarter worth $7.3B. (The lowest total value in the past 13 quarters.)
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