It’s still early…In SaaS

By Joseph Flaherty

“We’re still early” has become a mantra in the crypto community, but it’s also shockingly still applicable to SaaS.

Canva’s new $40B valuation and the charitable pledge of its founders have overshadowed the fact that the product is “just” an excellent web app.

I mean this respectfully!

The product works wonderfully and delivers immense value!

The exec team is impressive!

But at the end of the day, it’s a WYSIWYG design tool that helps non-designers make nice graphics without learning Photoshop.

It’s no mean feat to engineer a tool that looks/works well.

You could make an (IMHO weak) case that Canva is a part of the “creator economy” trend.

But it’s not a startup that emerged from some grand thesis or new tech — it’s just really freaking good software.

And it’s massively successful!

There were 166 tech IPOs in the 2010s.

Canva’s $40B valuation would place it among the top 20.

You can argue that SaaS multiples for late-stage startups are overheated, but it would be among the top half of exits even at half that valuation.

Even more impressive, it was founded in 2013!

The iPhone had been on the market for a half-decade at that point.

Uber and Airbnb were newly-minted unicorns.

The mobile/SoLoMo era was in full swing, and the Canva team was building a product best experienced on the desktop.

There’s a belief that if you’re not working on the latest and greatest trend, utilizing cutting edge technology, or addressing emerging markets, you’re doomed to build an also-ran.

You might make some money, but you won’t make a difference, so the thinking goes.

The reality is you can build a top-decile startup working on old problems, with middle-age technology, for boring customers.

There are many more startups like this just waiting for the right founders.

You’re not late — no matter what tools you’re using or which segment you’re serving.

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