You have, presumably, read my recent article Bootstrapping to Exit. As a follow-up, let me offer you some case studies.
All the nine acquisitions by Freshworks have been for undisclosed amounts. Cloud-based video collaboration platform 1CLICK, acquired in 2015, was founded in 2012 and had raised an undisclosed seed round from Blume Ventures and The Chennai Angels in 2014.
Online social discovery platform Frilp, acquired in 2015, was founded in 2012 and had raised $500K in funding from angel investors, including Freshdesk CEO Girish Mathrubootham in August 2014 and an undisclosed venture round with Microsoft Accelerator. It had over 100K users.
App customer support offering Konotor, acquired in 2015, was founded in 2013 and had raised $155,000 in seed capital from Accel Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, and Target Accelerator. Its platform supported more than 40 million users and has customers such as Zomato, BankBazaar.com, and Faasos Food Services Pvt. Ltd.
Online collaboration platform Framebench, acquired in 2016, was founded in 2012 and had raised seed capital from Blume Ventures and Anand Ladsariya. It had over 17,000 registered customers and its clients included HBO, Unilever, Isentia, and Scancafe. With 6-20 employees, its revenue was less than INR 10 lakh (~$16,000).
Real-time customer support provider Airwoot, acquired in 2016, was founded in 2013 and had raised angel funding in 2013 from Kae Capital and angel investors like Rajan Anandan, Sunil Kalra, and Samir Sood. With less than 10 employees, it was estimated to have annual revenue of $10 million. It was acquired primarily for its Artificial Intelligence technology following Zendesk’s release of the Satisfaction Prediction feature in March 2016.
Social chat platform Chatimity, acquired in 2016, was founded in 2011 and was bootstrapped with less than 10 employees. It started out as a social chat application aimed at helping people discover others based on locality and interests and grew to over 3 million users across various platforms. Later, it started catering to enterprise use cases like sales and support and started to build chatbots specialized in verticals like travel and e-commerce.
Bangalore-based Pipemonk was acquired in January 2017. It is a data integration platform founded in 2014. Formerly known as ZapStitch, it had secured seed funding of $2.1 million from Helion Venture Partners, Orios Venture Partners, and Anupam Mittal. It claimed to serve over 400 clients across the world. All the thirteen employees joined Freshdesk, essentially giving it an in-house data integration team.
Marketing software provider Zarget, acquired in 2017, was founded in 2015 with an angel investment from Freshworks founder Girish Mathrubootham and some of the early Freshdesk employees who were friends of the Zarget founders. Zarget went on to raise $7.5M in two rounds of funding from Accel Partners, Matrix Partners India, and Sequoia Capital India.
Chatbot platform Joe Hukum, acquired in 2017, was founded in 2015 and had raised undisclosed seed funding from TracxnLabs and a group of angels led by Citrus Payments founder Jitendra Gupta and HealthKart founder Prashant Tandon.
Zarget has now become Freshmarketer. The 2015 Konotor acquisition has become Freshchat. The 2016 Chatimity acquisition is powering the infrastructure for chat and some of its machine learning capabilities.
Atlassian appears to recognize the market potential in acquiring smaller startups to get to the next level. Earlier last year, it had announced the $295 million acquisition of OpsGenie. Virginia-based OpsGenie’s platform helped companies better plan for and respond to software and website service disruptions by quickly routing alerts to the appropriate IT teams. Prior to the acquisition, OpsGenie was privately held and, according to Crunchbase, had raised $10 million from Battery Ventures at an undisclosed valuation in 2016. This is a very interesting case in point vis-a-vis my recent article, Bootstrapping to Exit, where I point out that capital-efficient startups are appealing for larger companies to acquire.
Continuing with the inorganic growth strategy, Atlassian recently announced the acquisition of bootstrapped startup Butler for Trello for an undisclosed sum. Dover, Delaware-based Butler for Trello was developed by Ludable in 2016. Trello, which had raised funding for $10.3 million, was acquired for $425 million by Atlassian in 2017 and is now Atlassian’s powerful project management offering. Trello is known to be a very flexible platform, but it is prone to becoming a tedious platform due to the mundane and repetitive tasks that users have to perform on it.
Unlike Siri Shortcuts or Zapier, Trello does not offer an option to automate some of these routine tasks. To address this gap, Oscar Triscon developed Butler for Trello. It was built as a rules-based system that allows Trello users to program routines and processes using natural language. Today, it allows users to consolidate multiple steps into one, and assign rules such as user assignments or status change based on identifiable triggers. Butler’s solutions have been available to Trello users as a Power-up option. Analysts estimate that post the acquisition, some of these features will now come inbuilt into the Trello platform.
Atlassian appears to have caught on to the phenomenon of acquiring smaller startups that deliver product-market fit and strategic alignment to its core operations. Butler for Trello is one such example of acquiring a company that can add the much needed natural language processing capabilities to its project management service.
Some of the other acquisitions on similar lines include Hall, an all-in-one unified communications app that Atlassian acquired in 2015 for an estimated $20 million. Hall was privately held and had raised $6 million in funding prior to the acquisition. In 2014, Atlassian had acquired bootstrapped startup doctape for an estimated $7.5 million. doctape let users view and organize files in the browser, including a wide range of different document, image, video & audio formats without a local software installation.
CarDekho acquired software consulting company Valueserve Management Consultants in 2013, video production, VR, AR, and web designing startup Drishya360s in 2015, emergency roadside assistance startup Help On Wheels with annual revenue of $4M in 2016, SaaS startup Connecto in 2016 to improve user experience, 3D visualization platform Volob in 2016, and automotive content startup PowerDrift in 2018.
CarDekho acquired auto news portal ZigWheels with annual revenue of $1M in 2015. It acquired Gaadi Web, an auto portal for new and used cars with annual revenue of $4.5M, in 2014 for $11 million.
Qualys is building its technology and market offerings through several acquisitions. It recently announced plans to acquire the Container-Native security player Layered Insight for an undisclosed sum.
In April, Qualys announced its acquisition of Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) SaaS platform 1Mobility for an undisclosed sum. 1Mobility was founded in 2011 by Smita Yedekar and Rohit Jain. It was incorporated in 2014 with its headquarters in Singapore. 1Mobility subsequently set up a Development Center in Pune, India.
These are just a few examples. If you follow my writings, I cover the topic extensively with regular updates and new case studies.
This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping