The SaaS Billionaires and Naysayers

If you are on your journey as an entrepreneur to truly build something new and revolutionary, you will hear a lot of naysayers along the way. Today, Salesforce and Workday both announced their financial results — once again showing that they continue to grow as part of the larger movement to SaaS. Salesforce is now generating almost half a billion dollar a month in revenue and still growing over 30% year over year which is just remarkable. Workday is growing even faster in %-age terms and is the second largest independent SaaS player. But this journey was not easy for the likes of Marc Benioff or Aneel Bhusri.

While the big legacy vendors are now talking and acquiring SaaS, this is what we heard over the last 10 years:

1/ Multitenancy is irrelevant. (And then they tried all kinds of mega and virtual tenancy stuff only to learn that its a hugely important piece.)

2/ They said — Cloud is “just” a deployment choice. Customers want “choice” of on-premise, hybrid and cloud.

3/ They said — you can serve SMB on multi-tenant cloud but never “real” enterprise.

4/ They said — cloud is not secure. Its secure here but not in Europe.

5/ They said — “roach motel” of enterprise software.

6/ They said — yes, revenue but really NO PROFITS at @workday and @salesforce. See the numbers now.

7/ They said — cloud is all about virtualization of data centers. And public cloud is a ‘phase’.

8/ They said — no Startup will ever go IPO on a 3rd party cloud platform.

9/ They said — legacy software companies can “simply” start hosting. (Yes, like Ford can simply start cars-as-a-service and become Uber.)

10/ Finally, to the VCs who said “CRM is dead. I will fund next @Salesforce.” What are your startups doing in MRR? $500M in MRR anyone?

Even as these companies continue to grow, the doubts continue to be raised.

When you are inventing a new future, expect resistance.