Angular Ventures Weekly
Issue #156: For the week ended September 13, 2022
What does “quality revenue” mean when you don’t have much revenue at all?
Ask any early stage investor what you need to raise a successful series A, and they’ll hem and haw, throw out some half-hearted benchmarks, and then say “well, really, it depends.”
As annoying as that answer is for founders who just want one iota of certainty in these uncertain times, those early stage investors are right. It does all depend. It’s about the team. It’s about the market. And it’s about the revenue quality. I wrote about that last one in a blog post I just published. You can read it here.
I won’t repeat myself, but I’ll just say that for early stage companies, high quality revenue is revenue that proves a point. It derisks a central business challenge. It reinforces a core hypothesis.
As a result, the amount of revenue matters way less than the implications that revenue has on the future of your business. Sure, you will likely still need revenue (it’s the rare company that can raise without it), but I’ll take high quality revenue below whatever benchmark you’ve heard, over low quality revenue in excess, any day.
So if you’re thinking about what the story for your next round will be, my advice would be to put the revenue benchmarks out of your mind and focus on testing your company’s core hypotheses and proving to yourself the long term sustainability of your growth. If you do that well, high quality revenue will follow.
A final programming note: my partner Gil will be at TechBBQ in Copenhagen this week. If you’re around, send us a message. Would love to see you.
Until next week,
Sep 21 / Lessons Learned From Investing Early in Over a Dozen SaaS Unicorns Including Salesforce, SuccessFactors, Box, Gusto, SalesLoft, ServiceMax, Veeva, Bill.com, Doximity, Yammer and Zoom Among Others
Jason Green, Founder & General Partner, Emergence Capital
Sep 28 / The Evolution of Collibra’s Product Positioning & How They Created a Category
Stan Christiaens, Co-Founder & Chief Data Citizen, Collibra
FROM THE BLOG
It’s Not All About Bottoms-up
Two recent trends indicate that we may finally be past the mistaken belief that bottoms-up is the only “fundable” business model in town.
Don’t be Fooled by the PLG Mullet
How to know if you should be building a PLG Now, PLG Later or PLG Never company.
PLG Now, PLG Later, or PLG Never
Why there is no helicopter shortcut to the summit of Mount PLG.
For Early-Stage Venture, It’s Go Time
Don’t tell anyone, but this is the best venture market in years.
Benn Stancil on How Snowflake Fails. A good reminder that in every industry, the top dog rarely remains the top dog forever. One of the most interesting sections is on how Snowflake may one day become outdated: “To a user, the first versions of Snowflake were just a database, but big, fast, and stable. Yes, there was magic under the hood, but you’d never know that using it. If you’d given me an unlabeled connection to Snowflake in 2016, I would’ve thought it was Postgres on steroids…I think this was the right pitch — but it might not be the right foundation for the future. We’re starting to ask databases to do lots of things that Postgres can’t do. We want them to be transactional and analytical; we want them to power machine learning infrastructure; we want them to be semantically aware of their contents; we want to build operational systems on top of them; we want them to power advanced analysis in Python and R; we want them to support interactive data exploration; we want them to host their own applications; and we want all of it to happen in real time. Though Snowflake clearly wants to do all of these things too, they could be awkward fits. Snowflake’s bones weren’t (I don’t think?) built for polyglot querying like Databricks, to support native APIs like BigQuery, to embed semantic models like RelationalAI, for streaming data like Materialize, or for interactive analytical queries like Firebolt; they were built in a time when databases were, well, databases. In ten years, that could prove to be outdated, and Snowflake’s new features could be — like an on-premise provider stumbling their way into a clumsy cloud offering — a facade on an aging foundation.”
Long sales cycles in AI/ML tooling. The Information went deep on revenue growth in the AI/ML tooling space, concluding that sales cycles there are painfully long. “Salespeople who have worked for these companies say it takes at least nine months, and sometimes years, to finalize deals because of customers’ internal bureaucracies and conflicting priorities. Even if corporate IT departments bless deals with AI providers, projects may slow down because the customers don’t have the technical chops to adequately prepare internal data for analysis, these people say.”
Spotify chooses Snyk. The music giant selected Snyk as its key vendor for software lifecycle security.
HOW TO STARTUP
Figma’s community-led growth arc. First Round published a detailed analysis of how Figma built out its community in the early days. Here’s an insight from “phase 1: emerging from stealth:” “We really didn’t want to launch and just hear crickets from our audience. So as we continued hosting demos, I was looking for strong positive reactions — even if they weren’t quite ready to use Figma full-time in their day jobs. There started to be a series of meetings where designers would literally push Dylan out of the way during the demo so they could test Figma out themselves. That was a signal to me that designers were excited to try it, even if we hadn’t finished every single feature on our wish list.”
HOW TO VENTURE
You aren’t imagining it. It’s really slow out there in VC land. Crunchbase published the numbers. “Global venture funding reached $25.2 billion in August 2022, the lowest monthly funding amount recorded in the two years since August 2020, according to a Crunchbase News analysis.”
Lulav Space’s navigation solution has been adopted by SpaceIL for their next moon landing, scheduled for 2025.
groundcover’s CEO, Shahar Azulay, spoke on the IAM Podcast about how to level up your K8s observability game with eBPF.