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Cloud Stocks: SaaS Companies NEED PaaS Strategy

Posted on Thursday, Mar 14th 2019

I have been analyzing SaaS companies for over a decade. More recently, I have been looking into their acquisition strategies, as many have now reached critical mass and need to expand beyond the one product that made them successful to begin with.

Some clear trends are evident in the industry:

First, SaaS companies are acquiring capital efficient startups much more readily than heavily funded ones. Bootstrapped startups are particularly popular as acquisition targets. We’ve covered several prolific acquirers of small startups:

Billion Dollar Unicorns: HubSpot Acquired 9 Smaller Start-ups

Billion Dollar Unicorns: Qualys Acquires 1Mby1M Company Adya

Second, some SaaS companies have launched definitive Platform As A Service (PaaS) strategies.

How is Workday’s PaaS Strategy Coming Along?

What SaaS Products Built on’s PaaS Have Gained Substantial Traction?

Cloud Stocks: Open Platform Strategy Stands Intuit in Good Stead

In this piece, I would like to discuss why SaaS Companies NEED a PaaS strategy.

It is well known in the technology industry that companies, once they grow to a certain size, tend to expand further through acquisitions. For SaaS companies, it is a lot easier to integrate adjacent products if they’re built on compatible technology stacks. For a company that intends to grow through acquisitions, launching a PaaS is the best way to ensure that adjacent products built on compatible stacks are growing in their eco-systems, but doing so without taxing their P&Ls. When the time comes, acquiring and integrating such companies tend to be relatively easier and seamless. has thus far done the most successful PaaS strategy of the entire industry. Let me give you an example. Apttus was a contract management application that was built entirely on back in 2006 and bootstrapped to over $5M in revenue before the company raised any money. It went on to do over $160M in revenue and raised over $400M in funding before being acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo for over a billion.

Apttus’s biggest competitor SteelBrick was also built on In 2015, Salesforce acquired SteelBrick for an estimated $360 million. Prior to the acquisition, SteelBrick had raised $78 million.

My prediction is that will acquire more players from their PaaS ecosystem in the upcoming years. Their eco-system is brimming with possibilities.

Meanwhile, Workday, Hubspot, Shopify, Intuit, Atlassian, Zendesk, Xero and many others have launched PaaS strategies.

Those that haven’t should do so soon.

On the sell-side, if you are a SaaS entrepreneur looking for an exit, try to align with a PaaS eco-system.

Investors and stock analysts should pay close attention to the PaaS strategies of their cloud portfolios.

And, keep reading my Cloud Stocks coverage for more on PaaS.

Photo credit:  David Mark from Pixabay 


This segment is a part in the series : Cloud Stocks

. Smartsheet Acquiring Bootstrapped Startups to Drive Growth
. Bootstrapped Unicorn Atlassian is Acquiring Capital Efficient Startups
. Netflix Price Hike Ruffles Competition
. How Will Carbon Black Differentiate?
. ServiceNow Grows Through Addition of Capital-Efficient Startups
. Zendesk and Freshworks Follow Different Acquisition Strategies
. Tableau Grows Through Small Acquisitions
. Open Platform Strategy Stands Intuit in Good Stead
. SaaS Companies NEED PaaS Strategy
. Will GoDaddy Follow the PaaS Route?
. Calling ALL PaaS Leaders
. Adobe Delivers Via PaaS
. A Look at Oracle’s 2018 M&A Activity
. What Apps Will Drive More Traction for Cloudera?
. Slack's App Focus Will Be Key to Post-IPO Success
. IBM Counts on its Cloud and Platform for the Turnaround
. Atlassian Acquires From its PaaS Marketplace
. What Should SAP Acquire to Triple its Value by 2023?
. Expect ServiceNow to Acquire From App Marketplace
. Should Follow a PaaS Strategy?
. Six Cloud Stock Picks Based on PaaS Prospects
. How Upwork Can Leverage the Virtual Company Trend
. Qualys Scouting For Acquisitions
. Should SAP Acquire Zendesk or Freshworks?
. HubSpot Counts on its API Strategy
. SurveyMonkey Eyes Acquisitions for Growth
. Workday Wants to Disrupt Cloud Computing Using Machine Learning
. Einstein and Open-Source Platform Lead the Charge for Salesforce
. DocuSign Prepares to Beat Rival Adobe
. Veeva Soars, But Dassault Acquires Medidata for $5.8 Billion
. Tableau Acquisition Signals Massive Analytics Push for Salesforce
. Oracle Joins Hands with Microsoft to Take on Amazon
. GoDaddy is Making Strategic Acquisitions for the Next Level of Growth
. Alteryx Sees Strong Momentum
. Adobe Leveraging Magento and Marketo to Deliver Blockbuster Performance
. Is Slack Overvalued?
. How Will Cloudera Address the Competition?
. Zoom is Not Bothered by Cisco or Microsoft
. Domo Counts on Enterprise Revenue for Growth
. Netflix Plays with Pricing and Games to Attract Subscribers
. CrowdStrike Has a Successful IPO
. Atlassian Crosses the Billion Dollar Revenue Milestone
. ServiceNow Believes Strength Lies in Tie-ups
. Partnerships are the Mantra for BlackLine
. SurveyMonkey Counts on Enterprise Segment for Growth
. HubSpot Soars to a New High
. Intuit Pushes AI to Simplify Tax Filing
. Splunk Sees Strong Cloud Momentum
. Forescout Partners with Big Names
. Smartsheet Tapping into the Government Sector
. Salesforce Continues its Shopping Spree
. Palo Alto Networks Targets the IoT Security Market
. DocuSign Focuses on the Mortgage Sector
. Oracle Brags About Autonomous Database
. Blackbaud Acquires YourCause to Grow Addressable Market
. The Market Expects a Lot More from Adobe
. Anaplan Makes its First Acquisition Post IPO
. Activist Investor Drives Market Interest in Box
. MongoDB's Formula for Success
. Coupa Aims for $1B Revenue
. Dropbox on a Rocky Road
. Medallia Banks on Acquisitions
. IBM Banks on AI
. Time For Skepticism with Netflix
. SAP Riding High on the Cloud
. Amazon's Faster Shipping Hurting its Earnings
. ServiceNow CEO Change Signals Focus on Acquisitions
. Will Google Acquire Fitbit?
. HubSpot Focuses on Its Platform
. BlackLine Partners with Google Cloud
. Rapid7’s Focus on Cloud SIEM Pays Off
. Splunk Bets Big on Data Streaming
. Intuit's QBO Scores Big
. VMware Builds Up With Acquisitions
. Palo Alto Targets $5B Revenue by 2022
. Workday Targeting Procure-to-Pay Cycle
. Will Salesforce Acquire DocuSign?
. Okta Targets Enterprise Customers
. MongoDB Eyeing China With Alibaba Partnership
. Twilio Counts on API Upgrades for Growth
. Adobe Revs up its Experience Platform
. Top 20 for 2020
. Anaplan Sees Expanding Use Cases
. Dropbox Gears Up to Regain Lost Valuation
. Forescout Fails to Deliver
. Enterprise Bet Pays Off for SurveyMonkey
. Atlassian has a Strong Start in 2020

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[…] GoDaddy has built its platform to become the world’s largest cloud platform that’s focused on SMBs and entrepreneurs. But it does not have a strong PaaS strategy as yet. If GoDaddy is looking for growth through acquisitions in the future, it will need to focus on developing a more comprehensive PaaS offering. […]

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