SaaS Matters – For the Customer and the Vendor
It was a Tuesday about a year ago and I had just walked out of a client meeting. I wanted to try my hand at consulting after a 5.5 year run at ServiceNow. The meeting had to do with filesystems for on-prem storage. Really, I left one of the hottest SaaS companies in the valley for this? The phone rings on my way to the car. It’s a recruiter with a name that suddenly reminds me it’s been years since I’ve watched Roadhouse.
He pitches a start-up looking for a marketing leader. “They do backup.” How can I get off of this call immediately I thought to myself. Been there done that. Maybe I’ll just hang up. But wait, “they do SaaS” he says. Sure they do – the industry is littered with companies launching consumption based pricing models and calling that “SaaS”. The motivation is more about transitioning their product line to something that looks like SaaS to increase their valuation than it is about doing the right thing for the customer. They are easy to spot – they usually have pricing programs with clever names and they might be seen tweeting photos of their “SaaS win” with an exec sitting on a pallet of hardware on a loading dock. It’s not that they don’t want to really do SaaS, but they can’t get there from where they are.
Long story short, I meet the execs of this “backup SaaS company” and get more interested because of the team they are assembling and the fact that they are building natively on the public cloud. But I still can’t quite get a read on why the world needs another backup company. I then have the opportunity to meet Mike Speiser at Sutter Hill Ventures – the investor that has been leading the charge to fund this company. He describes that they invest in companies that are going after big markets (backup $10B+, check), that are ripe for disruption (Data Domain last disruptor, check) with workloads that can be better done taking advantage of the scale, elasticity, and economics of the cloud (think Snowflake). Light bulb on – it was time to lead marketing at Clumio.
My observations since arriving at Clumio have been the same as what I saw at ServiceNow; enterprises are moving aggressively to SaaS to take advantage of applications that minimize complexity and maximize value – helping the organization move toward its goals faster. It can be quite easy for an organization to move to SaaS for any number of enterprise workloads. But for the vendors, getting from the old world of on-prem hardware, software, planning, assembly and on-going management to the new world of SaaS without bringing along the inherent complexity has proven to be quite difficult. And this isn’t just an engineering challenge, it affects every part of building the business from sales to marketing and product design and support. In a series of blogs we are calling “SaaS Matters”, my colleagues Justin Lim, Brian O’Shea, Shubhankar Chatterjee, as well as others, and I will go on a Clumio walk-about to explore what needs to be thought of and done differently for the benefit of the customer when building an authentic SaaS company for scale.
Watch for the first post from Justin, who leads support at Clumio, later this week.