Software Executive Magazine

December 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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Responsible, Sustainable, "Regular" Software Businesses Wildbit has been in business for 16 years and has about 30 employees. It hosts an annual company retreat for employees from five countries, recently released a fourth product, and is experimenting with a 32-hour work week (read more about that on our website). The company is organically funded, too. It seems to me that being a "regular software business" like Wildbit has an unfairly negative connotation. Why is that? Consider this: ▶ According to OpenView's SaaS Benchmarks Report published in October 2017, SaaS startups have a 0.1 percent chance of reaching $100M in five years. The report concludes, "For far too long, the tech ecosystem has focused on growth at all costs and glorified so-called unicorns. These companies are often used as benchmarks for success, leading followers to grow unsustainably and irresponsibly. It's time that software startups start benchmark- ing themselves against their peer group and set- ting realistic expectations for growth and spend." ▶ According to The SaaS Report's The SaaS Industry, published in September 2017, there are only about 50 publicly traded pure-play SaaS companies (and these are the ones that get most of the headlines). There are another 10,000 private SaaS com- panies, and most of these are generating less than $3 million in annual revenue. Being a sustainable software business is commend- able, whether you're a startup or a mature company, whether you're bootstrapped or chasing VC money, or whether your software is cloud-based or on-premises. A company doesn't have to be the All-American caliber golfer of the software world to be considered successful. In 2018, your resolution should be to do the best you can for your business. Maybe that's triple-digit growth. Or maybe it's releasing a new version ahead of schedule. As Software Executive magazine looks ahead to our second year of publishing, we want to make sure we're writing about how regular software businesses can continue to grow sustainably and responsibly. S hortly after I returned to my alma mater as a part-time assistant golf coach, I wrote our first team handbook. Page one lists two goals for each season: Earn a bid to the NCAA Di- vision III National Championships and win the athletic department's team GPA award. When the handbook was first distributed, we gave the team a few days to read it and submit feedback. I didn't expect these goals to be questioned (but I did anticipate pushback on our "no cell phones at team meals, meetings, or practices" poli- cy). Surprisingly, the senior captain on our men's team wanted to revise our goals. He wanted to win a national championship, not just compete there. It's hard to disagree with a leader who would go on to be an All-American and rewrite our program's record book. But he is in the top 1 percent of all of the golfers I'll ever coach. Right now, our golf team isn't trying to be the best in the nation. Eventually I hope we will win at that level, but for now I'd be happy winning a conference championship. That doesn't mean we need to set the bar higher; it just means we have realistic, attainable expec- tations for the student-athletes on our regular golf team. There is a point to this anecdote, other than the fact that I love talking about coaching. When I was at the Business of Software conference in September, Wildbit co-founder/CEO Natalie Nagele had one of the best slides of the entire event. During her talk, "Keeping The Fun In Your Business Life," she called out the limited frame- work for defining software companies — you're either a startup, lifestyle business, or unicorn. Her slide with the words "regular business," and her explanation of Wild- bit's desire to be just that, got a round of applause. S A B B Y S O R E N S E N Executive Editor VIEWPOINT SoftEx SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM DECEMBER 2017 6 @AbbySorensen_ linkedin.com/in/AbbyLSorensen By A. Sorensen RESPONSIBLE, SUSTAINABLE, "REGULAR" SOFTWARE BUSINESSES

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