What's your "Moat" in SaaS? Do most SaaS companies even have a moat?

10 potential Moats:

#1. Brand.

Brand can be a big moat in SaaS.

Most customers just want to pick the app they’ve used and heard of. We all underestimated this in the earlier days of SaaS.
#2. Data.

Data lock is real. LinkedIn owns the human record. Getting your data out of Salesforce in a >structured< format is really hard.

Build more analytics, more connections, more worflows on customer data.
#3. Structured Data.

Even if data resides in many silos, structuring makes it unique.

And aggregating multiple cloud datasets into one set of data is a moat.
#4. Partners + Ecosystem. The top partners in the Salesforce, Shopify, etc. ecosystems do get most of the leads. And top APIs attract most devs.

And this compounds over time.

The AEs, the biz dev folks, tend to send deals to the partner everyone trusts and knows.
#5. Integrations.

Most vendors only integrate one third party in each category, maybe two.

Zapier is integrated everywhere. Maybe 10x more than anyone else … So also, build more of them.

Before someone else does.
#6. Agencies and Implementation Partners.

Third parties want to specialize in helping customers deploy just a handful of top apps. This is a big part of Hubspot’s GTM, Shopify's, and Atlassian's ecosystem. Own agency relationships, & it’s really tough for others to break in.
#7. Long-Term Contracts.

Yes, we all hate this.

But getting customers to sign 3+ year contracts does work. It's not a perfect moat. Others can buy out these contracts, and break them. But 3+ year contracts are a partial moat.
#8. Using Massive Amounts of Capital To Play In >Every< Segment.

"Dominant-dominant" strategy is tough to play well, but being in every single segment when the competition can’t afford to be is a form of moat.

Most focus where they are strong.
#9. “Most Enterprise” Vendor.

This really works, done right. If you are the most secured, most trusted, most 2FA, most HIPAA, most SOC-2, most everything vendor … you will win where that matters.

See our convo with CEO Okta on this:

#10. No Contract At All.

Yes, a long-term contract is a “stick” moat.

But there’s a “carrot” flip-side: making it 10x easier to onboard than the competition does.

You win the ease-of-use crowd.

Like, say, Zoom and Slack did.
Ask your team.

Ask your team what your moat is, or is becoming, or will be, or should be.

It will change and inform your roadmap for 2021+
A deeper dive here:


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More from @jasonlk

13 Jan
We all love Atlassian ... the $60B SaaS leader that came out of Australia, not SF ... with 2 co-CEOs ... that was basically bootstrapped ... that spends its $$$ on R&D, not sales

Atlassian has now crossed $2B in ARR

5 Interesting Learnings about where Atlassian is now:
#1. SEO, brand and content continue to work at scale.

Atlassian had 21m unique viewers to its website last year, up 30% year-over-year.

A vivid reminder that investments in content and brand pay dividends … forever. Image
#2. It’s never too late to add a Free edition -- if it's great

Atlassian was relatively late to adding free editions for some of its products, starting in March 2020 (!). But it’s working now. Sign-ups tripled

Atlassian sees Free as key engine of growth for the next decade Image
Read 10 tweets
13 Jan
I really don’t care at all losing all my money on any investment

So long as

The founders truly gave it all
Never quit
Didn’t just do it “on their terms”
Went wherever customers took them
Never left a lead on the table
Never stopped recruiting
Spent it like it was their money
Actually I’ve never lost money when this was all true

Where I’ve lost money:

- Founders burned money just to hit the plan
- Founders fired people they shouldn’t have
- Founders argued among themselves
- Founders blamed others
- Founders thought money would solve their problems
Where I’ve had a mediocre outcome:

- Founders didn’t want to go enterprise when customers did
- Founders didn’t drive down churn
- Founders didn’t talk to customers every single week
- Founders didn’t recruit VPs after $2m-$3m ARR
- Founders too arrogant in fundraising
Read 4 tweets
11 Jan
Xero is one of the most interesting SaaS companies we don't talk about that much in the U.S. etc.

They are coming up on $1B ARR, selling to SMBs

Yet, only 17% of their revenue is in the U.S.

5 Interesting Learnings: Image
#1. All the way until $600m+ ARR, the majority of Xero’s new bookings and revenue still came from Australia and New Zealand!

The U.K. has since grown substantially to $100m ARR, but they got all the way to $500m+ selling mainly in Australia+NZ

Nail a niche Image
#2. The U.S. isn’t everything.

The U.S. remains an important but a smallish market for Xero, and isn't outperform the rest-of-the-world.

The U.S. is growing 17%, just a smidge faster than 15% overall growth -- and from a much smaller base. Image
Read 7 tweets
10 Jan
SurveyMonkey is one of the most long-lived SaaS apps, founded 21 years ago!

We all use it and have used it. It just works.

And it's now at $400m in ARR

5 Interesting Learnings:
#1. Eventually, most of us go upmarket.

SurveyMonkey was relatively slow to go enterprise, which suited it well for a long time.

But since it started to march into bigger deals more recently, growth >re-accelerated< ... from 17% at IPO to 20% today Image
#2. Enterprise is now growing 53% YoY and accounts for 29% of total revenue, so the tilt upmarket clearly worked and was the right thing

Yet, self-serve is >still< growing 11% at $400m in ARR

So don't leave the small folks behind Image
Read 7 tweets
4 Jan
Twilio has long been one of our favorite companies at SaaStr, combining B2D + B2B, long-tail, SMB + enterprise, and much more

They are >still< growing 52% at $2B+ in ARR

Here are 5 Interesting Learnings from Twilio:
#1. The Top 10 Customers at Twilio have been 15%-20% of its revenue for years.

Yet Twilio has 200,000+ active accounts.

So they work hard to make a long tail AND big whales work together in 1 company

You don't have to choose. Don't let folks force you to.
#2. NRR has come down a bit from 140%-150% around the IPO, but is still world-class at 137%.

It's a great reminder NRR does not have to come down as you scale

Accounts can remain less than fully penetrated for many, many years

All the way to $2B+ in ARR
Read 8 tweets
4 Jan
I’m no @HarryStebbings, but having done a lot of interviews of busy decacorn and unicorn CEOs, a few tips for podcasts + interviews:

#1. You’ll be surprised who you can get via outbound — >if< the pitch is strong.

Really research guest you want & find a way to appeal to them
#2. Don’t make VIP guests, or any experienced guest, do a prep call.

But do ask if they want to do one.

Some folks will decline the invite if there is too much prep work (e.g., me). Others will appreciate it, especially for top events, podcasts, etc.
#3. Send the list of questions you have for the guest over 3+ days in advance.

I do it in a Google Doc so they can make edits, add stuff.

Everyone reads it. Everyone. So they prep that way.
Read 8 tweets

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