What I love about the technology industry is the paradox of it being enduring and fickle. History’s littered with the graves of once successful technology companies – and then there are those that keep reinventing themselves to stay at top of the game.
What seems romantic to me is the once-too-often appearance of a David to a Goliath. The Goliath might not be that bad , but you want David to win nonetheless.
You had SIEBEL come and disrupt the CRM industry to take on SAP and Oracle. Mr. Bhusri bounced back from’s Larry’s punch by creating WORKDAY to again disrupt the HR application stronghold of SAP and Oracle. NetSuite continues to nibble away at the ERP behemoth of SAP and Oracle. <Darn, I’m seeing a pattern here>. You have FreshDesk taking on ZenDesk and SalesForce. Zoho is taking on EVERYONE. CANVAS is taking on BlackBoard for the classroom fight. The slugfest for Analytics….. I could go on!
The B2B Software industry is being SaaS-ified every day. @pmarca(Marc Andreessen) famously penned the WSJ article “Software is Eating the World” way back in 2011. Come 2018, B2B SaaS has turned into an all-you-can-eat apocalypse with innovative companies popping up all over the globe and accelerating at least the B2B Buffet table.
Yes, the cloud has made software delivery and consumption simple. Yes, feature releases and upgrades are instantaneous and across customers. Yes, SaaS has reduced project delivery cycles making it easy to automate any processes now.
But what SaaS has really done is level the playing field for the fight for the customer. You don’t need (most of the time) a sales rep to show up at a customer’s buying cycle to be counted. The once go-with-what-you-get customer is now a lot more discerning having been spoilt for choice by SaaS offerings for literally every vertical, department and user. The risk of the software purchase has suddenly shifted from the customer to the provider.
While the in the biblical story, Goliath was vulnerable in the forehead where David struck – a16z’s recent podcast had a comment which summarizes B2B SaaS David’s strategy for today’s Goliath. “The battle between every startup and incumbent comes down to whether the startup gets distribution right before the incumbent gets innovation right“. YOU BET.
What’s also sort-of-romantic is the inevitability of the once-David becoming a Goliath itself and history repeating itself.
I’m reminded of the famous dialogue made by 2-face Harvey Dent in ‘The Dark Knight’ – “You either die a Hero or live long enough to become the Villain”. I’m waiting David, said Goliath 🙂
Still, C’mon Davids, I’m rooting for you.