Don't break your hockeystick

Matt Bowman · August 28, 2009 · Short URL:

Easy on that angle. None of the top tech companies built this decade had steep hockeystick growth.

 When pitching a company, entrepreneurs often have to balance optimism with credibility, and the beam is never thinner than when it comes to sales growth projections. How steep sharp should you make that hockey stick angle?

In a recent Vator status update, Marc Evans points to an interactive graph of the top 100 tech companies’ revenue over time, posted by Christian Chabot last week. I’ve embedded it below.

There are all kinds of stories to cull from this. Chabot notes while biz plans often project something like $100 million within 5 years, only 28% of the nation’s most successful public software empires were “rocketships,” ie, companies that reached $50 million in annual sales in 6 years or less. Microsoft took 8 years, Oracle took 10.

I played around a bit, and noticed that of the 7 entertainment companies all of them were either rocketships or hot (ie, no “slow burners”). The #2 company in this category, and most recently founded of all 100 titans, is China Digital TV Holding CO., Ltd—a testament to the benefits of being anointed the official Chinese anything. The next most recent entertainment company, DivX, founded in 2000, took 7 years to get to $50 million.


IPO Growth Dashboard
IPO Growth Dashboard


Interestingly, all of the companies founded since 2000—namely DivX, Netezza, Sourcefire, and SuccessFactors (I’m not counting the Chinese anomaly)—took 7 to 8 years to reach $50 million. NO rocketships in the last decade.

Play around and let me know if you notice any other interesting patterns.

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SuccessFactors provides state-of-the-art Performance & Talent Management solutions that help organizations of every size and category realize their potential through their talent. Serving customers in 156 countries and 22 languages - 3+ Million employees at 1,750 organizations - has helped us better grow companies like yours with the insights we've learned along the way.

With a customer-focused ethic that is our single most important and recognized quality, we have worked to achieve a growth rate 3x that of our nearest competitor. It's also helped us earn nearly 100% customer referenceability and become one of the most widely recognized Performance & Talent Management solutions on the planet.

Simply stated, SuccessFactors works every day to help companies just like yours achieve tangible and measurable results with Performance & Talent Management initiatives that use the latest research, the smartest technology, and the most secure systems on the planet.

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