Software companies suffer valuation reset, but some investors remain optimistic

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For nearly four decades, Jeff Kofman has covered major events for ABC News around the world. He narrowly escaped a shooting during a coup in Haiti, spent five tours covering the war in Iraq and watched a man die in front of him during an insurgency in Honduras. This was all preparation for his current role as CEO of a start-up software company.

The Emmy-winning television journalist has learned a lot about not panicking during a crisis, clear communication, and how others will try to shape your story. He applied that to a new career running Trint Ltd., a software-as-a-service speech-to-text AI platform for interview transcription. Trint has received a major investment from The New York Times, and Airbnb Inc., Nike Inc. and The Washington Post are clients.

“The best software solves problems we didn’t know we had,” said Kofman (pictured), who spoke to SiliconANGLE during an appearance at SaaStock this week in Dublin, Ireland. “When you’re running a SaaS business, fortunately, it’s not life or death.”

SaaS Status Report

Trint, a portmanteau of ‘transcription’ and ‘interview’, was among more than 100 startups on display for 5,000 attendees who ventured to Ireland for a three-day update on the state of the SaaS industry. The status report, as captured in part by a presentation from venture capital firm Accel, was a mix of sobering news and optimism about the future.

Accel’s Euroscape 2022 report showed that $1.6 trillion in market capitalization was lost in Europe’s global cloud index, with estimated average forward earnings multiples falling from 17 times a year ago. year to six times today. Private-side cloud funding in Europe, Israel and the US fell 42% and multiple SaaS ranked below the 10-year pre-COVID average.

But despite the big valuation reset, Accel believes there is a potential rainbow behind the storm clouds. Accel executives cited the continued movement of enterprises to the cloud and growing interest in security and crypto solutions as signs that good times could be ahead.

“Is everything dark and dark?” Philippe Botteri, partner at Accel, asked during his presentation. ” We do not think so. The trends for a cloud push are still there and are still very strong.

The venture capital community had a significant presence at SaaStock this week, providing at least an indication that the investment community has remained interested in SaaS companies.

During a roundtable discussion, a venture capitalist noted that the outlook was much better for software companies than for those operating in consumer markets in the current period of high inflation, capital crunch and economic downturn. uncertainty in the markets.

“We should all be thankful to be at SaaStock rather than ConsumerStock,” said Alex Ferrara, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “It’s been much worse for consumer-focused companies. Many SaaS companies continue to progress.

Consolidation may come

Bessemer has invested in several SaaS-focused companies that illustrate the growing diversity of enterprise applications. These include Vertice Ltd., a London-based SaaS procurement platform that helps businesses reduce their software spend by 20-30%, and Optibus Ltd., a software platform for transit agencies which became the first public transport unicorn in May.

Despite the traction of a growing number of SaaS startups, Ferrara believes the software industry is heading for upheaval as some companies struggle to meet sales and marketing overhead.

“I think there’s going to be a big wave of consolidation that’s going to happen over the next few years,” said Ferrara, who spoke to SiliconANGLE after his SaaStock pitch. “The cost of sales is high. I think a lot of companies are going to find that it’s not viable to really scale a large business organization. »

Europe on the rise

Ferrara didn’t have to travel far from the United States to attend SaaStock. Bessemer opened an office in London two years ago and Ferrara moved from New York to be closer to the company’s growing portfolio of businesses in Europe.

His decision provided further evidence of Europe’s growth as an enterprise technology market. Five years ago, a former yacht skipper named Hanno Renner ran a small HR software company above a bakery in Germany. Today, Renner’s company – Personio GmbH – has grown into one of Europe’s most successful startups, with a valuation exceeding $8 billion and offices in Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, Dublin and Barcelona.

During an appearance at SaaStock, Renner described how the European market is a perfect fit for its cloud-based HR software offering, designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. “Our SME market in Europe is actually larger than in the United States,” Renner noted.

Although seen by some as still catching up with other regions of the world in the development of key technologies, Europe is beginning to show signs of emergence as a growing and influential technology market. The Accel report released earlier this week showed that cloud software unicorns in Europe and Israel have raised $44 billion over the past two years, which researchers say will fuel valuation despite the bearish economic cycle.

Perhaps more intriguing was Accel’s finding that Europe has begun to show greater geographic diversity in its tech landscape. Of 33 new unicorns created in 2022, 11 of them came from smaller hubs like Switzerland, Belgium, Estonia and Ireland.

Such trends have not gone unnoticed by the venture capital community, which has large sums of money on the sidelines during the current economic downturn, according to one investor. “There has never been as much dry powder in the European ecosystem as there is now,” said Annalize Dragic, partner at Sapphire Ventures. “There is a huge pool of capital looking for a good home to invest in.”

When investors reopen their wallets, they’ll find an intriguing European SaaS market populated by newly-created entrepreneurs like Kofman, who traded dodging bullets in war zones to pitch his London-based transcription service to potential buyers. business software. For Kofman, the motivation to solve an interview transcription problem catapulted him into a new profession and onto the SaaStock scene.

“I saw the opportunity to solve this problem for people with my work,” Kofman said. “I had no interest in technology, I didn’t even know what SaaS was. I made Trint for myself.

Photo: Mark Albertson/SiliconANGLE

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