Have you ever wanted to know who the 10 biggest disruptors in SaaS are? If so, the title of this article is no red herring nor click bait! You, my SaaS friend, are in luck.
But, how to go about deciding the most disruptive SaaS companies? Well methods employed here were to use a little bit of SaaS knowledge, with a dash of research and a final call out to SaaS Fans on the web for public opinion (Twitter and Quora). This helped me get to my final 10, whittled down from an initial brainstormed list of 20 or so SaaS companies.
Whilst this is not a scientifically researched top 10, it seems that on the whole, those web SaaS fans and I came up with the same names, with one or two suggestions that i’ll admit, I hadn’t considered for the top 10 most disruptive SaaS but make the list. So here are the Disruptors
10. Zuora – Tien Zuo, Cheng Zou and K.V. Rao left their jobs at Webex and Salesforce to create this enabler of Subscription based billing. Zuora is a SaaS based billing, commerce and finance platform used by the likes of Box, Zendesk, Intuit and many other A name SaaS companies. It’s also huge in the B2C space and makes the Most disruptive SaaS list for being an enabler of the subscription economy.
9. Twilio – The inclusion of Twilio on this list could be controversial and divisive. Not because there is any question of Twilio being a disruptive company. Its hugely disruptive on the traditional Telecoms, IVR, SIP Trunking and PBX market with its API based platform and therefore one of the most disruptive companies in the tech sector today. So why could its inclusion cause some doubt in my mind and some possible dissent from SaaS purists? Well, its as to whether Twilio is categorised as SaaS? Or whether its actually PaaS? Or is it IaaS? Twilio has virtualised the entire Telecoms Infrastructure stack to enable developers, Startups such as Uber and AirBnB and Fortune 500 Enterprises like Coca Cola to use its APIs to build great customer experiences. So when you hail that Uber and receive a text message that your drivers outside, thats Twilio. When you receive confirmation of your AirBnB booking via text, thats Twilio. It goes way beyond SMS notification, and its broad range of Telecom disrupting products earns it a place on the list. We’ll just say they’re a SaaS company, for now anyway.
8. Intercom – Intercom are disrupting the way businesses communicate with their customers. First by giving you improved visibility on your customer behaviour on your website, through analytical dashboards. Second, by allowing you to communicate with your customers, based on their behaviour and through automation. Intercom has been labelled a ‘Social CRM’ tool and is bringing new levels of innovation into the CRM Vertical, in which we haven’t seen transformative product developments for years. Intercom looks to be taking on Salesforce, SAP and Oracle. Kudos to them, believing they can and actually developing a SaaS that backs up their belief. Ballsy SaaS.
7. Vend – Vend is disrupting traditional Point of Sale and killing the cash register with its great SaaS. Led by New Zealander Vaughan Roswell, an upcoming SaaSStar with an awesome moustache. Vaughan and his team at Vend HQ have created a revolutionary SaaS platform, which makes POS easier, more elegant with its great design and easier to use. All SaaS benefits. The Ka-ching sound of the cash register will soon be no more as Vend steamrolls across the global retail landscape. But please don’t feel sad about the demise of the cash register. SaaS solves painful problems and the retail industry has had its pain taken away with Vend.
6. Dropbox – Drew Huston and Arash Ferdowsi are the disrupters of file syncronisation. Taking their Startup, Dropbox through the Y Combinator accelerator, they came out of it with a SaaS that took the pain out of file Sync and made it simple and seamless. More than 300 million users world wide add significant weight for their inclusion on the most disruptive SaaS List and we expect that an IPO will be not too far away.
5. Zendesk – Before 2007 Customer Support Software was clunky, complicated, expensive and boring. Then Mikkel Svane, Morten Primdahl and Alexander Aghassipur toiled away in a Copenhagen loft and gave birth to Zendesk. A SaaS based Customer helpdesk tool which effectively re-invented Customer Service and helpdesk software in the same manner that Salesforce re-invented the way to deliver and consume CRM software. Suddenly it was no longer clunky, complicated, expensive and became less boring. Zendesk easily deserves its place as a Most Disruptive SaaS.
4. Hubspot – The disruptors of SaaS Marketing, Hubspot coined the term Inbound Marketing, and with that, a newly preferred method to attract customers was born. The problem? Consumers being bombarded with marketing ‘spam’ and not a great experience in the buying process. The solution? Creating great content hosted by the vendor looking to acquire customers and have the buyers go to the vendors. Suddenly greater emphasis on high quality blogs, podcasts, ebooks, whitepapers, social media as an example became commonplace with the companies subscribed to the inbound marketing way. It’s helped Hubpsot and its SaaS marketing platform, to an IPO and a unicorn status. It’s helped 1000’s of companies improve their customer growth rates exponentially.
3. Slack – The current coolest SaaS on the block, in the valley and on this list. As we speak, Slack has a shiny new $2.5 Billion valuation following a recent funding round, and only 6 months since they earned Unicorn Status ($1billion valuation). With 500,000 customers within the space of a year, Slack is achieving rocket propelled growth. Why are Slack disruptive? Because they could be killing Skype. Because they could be killing collaboration tools. Because they quite possibly could go down in history as being responsible for the death of Email. We’ll just have to wait and see if that actually happens.
2. Zenefits – In at our number 2 is not 2015s hottest SaaS company, Slack – which debuts at number 3, but Zenefits, 2014’s hottest Startup according to Forbes, beating Uber and AirBnB on its way to that title. Zenefits is disrupting Human Resources and became the fastest growing SaaS in history whilst it does so. Reaching $20 million in Annual Recurring Revenue within 2 years and expecting to hit $100 million by end of 2015. Its amazingly fast growth doesn’t make it disruptive, just damn impressive. What makes Zenefits disruptive is its business model. Zenefits is giving away its cloud platform for free and then contracting with businesses to become their health insurance broker. A hub and spoke model. Zenefits CEO, Parker Conrad’s, Aha moment. The disruption has the health insurance business and has traditional insurance brokers in a sweat.
1. Salesforce – Suprisingly, not one respondee to my web call out to shape the SaaS disruptor list, suggested Salesforce as a candidate! For me, Salesforce comes in at number one. Why? Because not only did they disrupt CRM Software, they also disrupted software itself and are a founding father of SaaS. Salesforce remain a poster child for SaaS for 15 years strong, and continue to crush it with their earnings numbers.
by Alex Theuma @alextheuma
Do you agree with out Top 10 Most Disruptive SaaS Companies List? Let us know your top 10 in our comments section below.