Todd Greene: In my view, there are only two kinds of startups. There are startups that are building a new product in an existing market. There are companies that are building new products in a new market. They both have different dynamics. In companies that are building new products in an existing market, you’re usually providing something that already exists but you’re making it faster, better, and cheaper. You’re probably stealing unhappy customers away from a very large incumbent.
In the world of PubNub, it’s very different. We are one of those new companies in a new space. We get to define the space and define the naming. We have the added task of educating the world about how you use this Data Stream Network to connect, deliver, and control for these real-time applications. The great thing about new companies and new markets is when they’re successful, they’re usually 10 times bigger than their nearest competitor.
Akamai is a great example in the CDN space. They got started first. Their market capitalization is 10 times bigger than their nearest competitor. There are many other examples of that in various categories. When PubNub started, we were the first company out there. We still remain the largest company in our space.
About 75% of our sales conversations are build versus buy, which means that the customer is saying, “We have this critical thing we want to do. We’re thinking about building the technology ourselves, but we realize that our expertise is in the solution and not in building a data stream network. They find PubNub or we find them. They evaluate building this infrastructure themselves versus using PubNub.
In the early days of PubNub, we didn’t win all the time. People would sometimes build it themselves. As we’ve gotten bigger and more mature, we win a nice percentage of the time now. Frankly, the biggest competitor is the people who realize this is very strategic and they’re deciding whether to build it themselves.
The second category is real competitors. These are people who have followed in our footsteps to try and deliver some version of a data stream network to deliver some or all of the functionality that we have. They only represent around 25% of our use cases. That consists of everything from open source platforms like Socket.io to companies like Pusher which provides the connect and deliver piece but not the control layer, which is one of our big differentiators.
The product name of our control layer is PubNub Functions but what it delivers is the ability to control data streams through the network. While a lot of people are starting to compete on the connect and delivery side, PubNub is the only solution that delivers on the control piece that lets people put their business logic in our network and run their business project inside PubNub.