11 SaaS Blogs For Data Lovers & Startup Wonks
My Feedly is overflowing, I never get through all my Pocket saves, and there’s no hope of catching everything good on Twitter. Suffice it to say, there’s no shortage of tech content to keep track of these days regardless of your focus. When it comes to SaaS blogs, though, there are a few that I pay special attention to. If you’re like me, you love data-driven content and you like to go a mile deep on niche topics. I got together with one of our current Summer Analysts and fellow startup wonk Kevin Chu to pull together this list of some of the best SaaS blogs that fit this bill. There are way too many greats to cover them all in one post, so apologies to the dozens of equally good ones that aren’t included here. But I hope with this read you’ll find at least one new resource you like. If there are any under-the-radar bloggers you think we should include in our next roundup, don’t hesitate to drop us a line on Twitter by clicking here (@picnoulos, @imkevinchu, @bowerycapital). Without further adieu, and in no particular order, we recommend you give these 11 SaaS blogs a try:
1) CB Insights
Industry landscapes have been a part of my life for a long time. Back in my banking days I helped pull logos for the landmark Display Ad Tech Landscape created by Terry Kawaja and still make some of my own from time to time. More recently, I think think one company has really stepped up their game in this area: CB Insights. If you aren’t familiar with CBI, it’s behind one of the leading platforms for venture / startup financing data and is quickly becoming a research firm in is own right.
Must Read: Disrupting The Auto Industry: The Startups That Are Unbundling The Car — “While self-driving tech receives the lion’s share of media attention, a host of less-heralded startups are targeting specific pieces of automotive infrastructure or components.”
Another player you’ve probably run across already if you do another related to startups or venture. Mattermark’s blog and daily newsletter both deliver actionable insights for both entrepreneurs and investors, with topics ranging from financing trends to sector deep-dives. Like CB Insights, Mattermark’s content is powered by its data platform, which provides a range of useful data to help users “discover, qualify, and track” companies.
Must Read: Where To Raise Money This Year (And Where You Should Have Raised Last Year) — “What’s interesting about these markets is their small size. The combined money invested in these markets in the first quarters of 2015 and 2016 is only slightly larger than what investors put into Silicon Valley companies in Q1 of 2015 alone. The biggest winner in our comparison here is Boston, which has long been the center of biotech and pharmaceutical innovation and investment.”
Cristoph, an entrepreneur-turned-SaaS investor, heads up Point Nine Capital and has backed companies like Typeform and Zendesk. His blog is heavily SaaS oriented and often includes some great data. He also has a penchant for “drawing” on napkins:
Must Read: What does it take to raise capital, in SaaS, in 2016? — “So what does it take to raise money for a SaaS company in 2016? Below is my back of a (slightly bigger) napkin answer to this question.”
A partner at Redpoint, Tom built what has become probably the most popular of the newer SaaS blogs (recognizing that some of the folks elsewhere on this list and otherwise kicked off a generation of SaaS blogs much earlier). And it’s the definition of data-driven; every article seeks to answer a question using a data set of some kind. His approach is straight forward, consistent and filled with great insights. Fans should also check out Tom’s new book, Winning With Data.
Must Read: The Impact To Startups Of The LinkedIn Acquisition — “Pacific Crest, an investment bank specializing in software companies, released this analysis at the Gainsight Pulse conference showing the correlation between free cash flow and enterprise value to next 12 month multiple. This means that public software companies are buying private ones using the same metrics as public investors.”
A project of OpenView Venture Partners, OpenView Labs brings together industry experts from all over to write on diverse topics such as product development, customer success, sales, marketing, finance and operations, HR and recruiting, exit strategy—the list goes on.
Must Read: Keys to Winning the M&A Game Before the Deal is Signed — “History has shown that 60% to 90% of all M&A deals fall well short of expectations and fail to create value. The track record of M&A failures is overwhelming and the odds are such that you have a much better chance of winning by placing a bet on a gaming table in Las Vegas than by playing the M&A game. So how do you win?”
Seeing Both Sides is the personal blog of Flybridge GP Jeff Bussgang. While Jeff’s blog sometimes flies under the radar in comparison to some of the other heavily marketed VC platforms, it’s a worthwhile one to follow. Jeff consistently writes data-driven posts that tend to take a look at ways to succeed as an entrepreneur or investor by the numbers. It’s a SaaS blog oriented toward B2B, moreover, which makes it all the more interesting in my book.
Must Read: Your LTV Math is Wrong — “A mentor of mine is fond of saying that every business plan contains the same word in relation to its forecasts: “conservative”. It is better to be truly conservative – or, dare I say, accurate – rather than letting a savvy, cynical investor do it for you.”
Thoughtful journalist-quality pieces not quite like any other SaaS blog or tech publication. The Information launched with a pretty striking business model: $30 / month, straight up. Not unprecedented but nonetheless a pretty bold approach after years of free ads-based online content and strong continued resistance to subscription written digital content models (from much more established outfits at much lower prices, moreover). But quality speaks for itself. The Information has quickly become a favorite of mine. The content is unique: I liken it the angle The Economist brings to world news. Subjects are very well chosen and never lazy, broad-strokes clickbait; they don’t resort to reporting every big financing or play into trendy terms as much; voice is intelligent but measured, even moderate (to use that term in a positive way); great use of data and graphics but with care taken to avoid numbers where they are irrelevant to the message (shout out to Tufte); all wrapped into a clean, easy-to-consume, consistent-feeling publication. The Information is new, so admittedly, some of the above is probably yet to be proven out. And of course it’s not just a SaaS blog. But if it can continue hit all these points above, I’ll certainly stay a subscriber.
Must Read: Bros Funding Bros: What’s Wrong with Venture Capital — “For the technology industry to thrive, investors need to find entrepreneurs in more places. And the talent pool is diversifying far faster than investments firms are. That’s why we created the Future List. For three months, we worked with Social Capital to gather more than 6,000 data points on 552 senior investment professionals at 71 firms. We hope this contributes to the ongoing discussion around diversity.”
Now working for Andreessen Horowitz as a partner attached to a16z’s Deal and Research team, Benedict achieved great acclaim with his numbers -heavy mobile-oriented email newsletter. Before a16z, he was an analyst with Enders Analysis, a research firm covering the media, entertainment, mobile and fixed telecommunications industries in Europe. His background is a less-common but by no means unprecedented one for a VC (cf. Mary Meeker). His expertise is certainly clear from his content; nearly every piece is worth a deep read. He also as a penchant for cheeky, pithy one-off tweets; one of the few that gives me hope Twitter hasn’t devolved completely into a noise machine.
Must Read: Inevitability in Technology — “Steve Jobs supposedly said, returning to Apple, that his plan was to stay alive and grab onto the next big thing – to listen for the footsteps. He tried video, and a few other things, but he got there in the end. But he might not have.”
forEntrepreneurs is the personal blog of David Skok, a longtime SaaS investors with Matrix Partners. There, David has one of the best current resources on SaaS metrics and definitions; a go-to for any SaaS founder or wonk. In addition, it includes and references the report that David and the Pacific Crest Securities team put out; it’s an annual must-read that draws dozens of valuable SaaS benchmarks from their survey of ~300 SaaS companies (mostly, if not all private). The Pacific Crest reports, are the most analytical you can find when it comes to private-company SaaS benchmarks. A well-known and widely read resource that generally lives up to the hype.
Must Read: 2015 Pacific Crest SaaS Survey — “Approximately 30% of companies derive some amount of new ACV from “freemium” strategies, though virtually no one drives their business on it. “Try Before You Buy” is much more commonly used: 60% derive revenues through this strategy, and 30% derive the majority of their new ACV through “Try Before You Buy”. These results are very consistent with previous years.”
10) Memory Leak
Memory Leak is a blog written by Lenny Pruss, an investor with Redpoint Capital and former fellow NYC VC. While not necessarily a SaaS blog, it’s one of the few catering exclusively to the enterprise enthusiasts out there (B2B + B2D). Per the site, Lenny’s content is “focused on developer tools and trends and a resource for those building products and services for developers.” While not every piece is necessarily “data-driven,” you can expect a thoughtful enterprise viewpoint from Memory Leak; especially for anyone interested in dev tools and infrastructure, make sure to add it to your list.
Must Read: Q1 2016 ‘Dev-Native’ Funding Roundup — “The data is proof-positive that it’s as good a time as ever to be a startup that facilitates migration to the cloud, accelerates software release cycles and/or enables adoption of cloud-native application architectures.”
11) Bowery Capital
What would a list post be without a self-shoutout to close things out? As a firm focused exclusively on enterprise software (predominantly SaaS), our blog certainly fits the theme. Presumably, you’re on it now, but I encourage you check out some of our other posts if you haven’t: the Bowery Capital blog. As you’ll notice quickly, we also put a lot of work into the Bowery Capital Startup Sales Podcast; it’s chock full of great insights from CEOs, CROs & CMOs of SaaS companies you’ll recognize, so give it a listen on your morning commute (here’s a recent roundup of a few good ones to get you going). While not every article is a pure data exploration, we do have some (IMHO) great analytical pieces for the startup wonks out there. I’m inspired having written this post, so expect more to come. In addition to some of the greats listed above, we hope you’ll keep tabs on us. Happy reading!
Must Read: Vertical SaaS: What Is It & How Is It Different? — “Here at Bowery, vertical SaaS has become one of our most prominent investment themes. As we outlined in our presentation on Opportunities In Vertical Software, we believe a large number of industries are still overly reliant on legacy technology, personnel and services, and have yet to adopt (or have access to) next-gen cloud solutions.”