As 2021 kicked off, I reformulated a series of posts we published last year focused on startups that had reached the $100 million ARR (annual recurring revenue) mark. In our refreshed effort, we cut the target in half and dug up companies around the $50 million ARR threshold. The goal was to figure out what those firms were going through as they reached material scale, not after they had achieved effective pre-IPO status.
And the results were a bit medium.
While it was fun to chat with OwnBackup, Assembly, SimpleNexus and PicsArt, ultimately we were getting similar notes from each company: hiring is incredibly important as a company scales, founders have to cede decision-making, and as startups grow from $30 million ARR to $50 million or more, they must harden internal systems and build business infrastructure.
All that made sense, but it wasn’t entirely scintillating. I meant to keep the project going; I had publicly made noise about the effort and had a few interviews in the bag that were collecting dust (and emails from various PR folks).
But they wound up in the Google Docs graveyard as the news cycle somehow managed to keep accelerating, meaning that the time required to execute the somewhat effort-intensive series dried up as I held on for dear life as the early, middle, late and IPO-stage startup (Read more...)