March SaaSness 2017: 2nd Round Preview
On March 15th, we kicked off the 2nd annual March SaaSness Tournament. 64 SaaS companies entered our NCAA Tournament style bracket, where winners are decided by popular vote.
Only 32 companies survived and advanced to Round 2. Let’s break down the matchups and see who has a shot at entering the SaaS 16.
2017 March SaaSness: Round of 32
Here’s a look at the updated 2016 Tournament Bracket heading into Round 2.
Click image to enlarge.
Styles make fights, and we’re about to bring you a brief introduction and breakdown of each competing company and how they stack up in their 2nd Round matchups.
Monday Matchups – Region 1
Seed: 16. Founded: 2012. HQ: New York City. Conference: Human Resources.
Namely returns to the 2017 tournament with a strong head of steam. Representing the Big Apple, the emergent HR, payroll and benefits platform is rapidly scaling and sitting on a freshly-acquired $30 million dollar investment round courtesy of Sequoia Capital. Ousted by Box in Round 1 of last year’s tournament, the battle-tested company faced another tough matchups versus Salesforce in Round 1 of this year’s tournament. They mounted an incredible comeback to stun Benioff and co., setting up a Round 2 matchup versus SalesLoft.
Seed: 9. Founded: 2011. HQ: Atlanta. Conference: Sales Acceleration.
SalesLoft just finished hosting its 3rd annual Rainmaker Conference and recently raised another major round of funding. The ATL-based sales acceleration company brings that momentum plus 2 years of SaaSness experience to this year’s tourney. Their 2nd Round “Battle for Atlanta” with MailChimp in the 2015 tournament was the single most thrilling matchup in the 2015 tourney. Last year, they suffered a tough Round 1 exit at the hands of Intercom. Their returned to form in Round 1, blowing past 2016 runner-up Influitive in one of the most anticipated matchups in this year’s tournament.
Seed: 5. Founded: 2003. HQ: Seattle. Conference: Business Intelligence.
A publicly-traded company for going on 4 years now, Tableau is synonymous with the term Business Intelligence and continues to command a rare level of industry respect in the SaaS universe. Lurking north of Silicon Valley in the wet, caffeinaited confines of Seattle, Tableau is the definition of enterprise – all business, all the time. Their industry clout took them to the Sweet 16 in 2015 and 2016, where they were stopped each time by a fellow emeritus SaaS company, Dropbox and Salesforce. They made short work of APS Payrol in Round 1. A much tougher challenge in Atlassian awaits in Round 2.
Seed: 4. Founded: 2002. HQ: Sydney. Conference: Productivity.
There’s a nice international flavor to March SaaSness – and every year, we can count on Atlassian to serve as the premiere SaaSness competitor from the other side of the world. As the purveyor of beloved business collaboration tools like Jira and HipChat, and most recently, Trello, Atlassian boasts one of the strongest, most diverse product lines of any tourney competitor year in and year out. A tough out against Evernote in the Sweet 16 derailed their tourney run in 2015 and last year, they became the first victim to fall to upset-minded Influitive in Round 1. Can they bounce back in 2017? Stay tuned.
Seed: 11. Founded: 2011. HQ: Tampa. Conference: Sales Acceleration.
KiteDesk returned to March SaaSness this year hoping to improve on consecutive 1st Round dismissals by Atlassian and Import.io. Their 2017 prospects are brighter than ever, thanks to strong G2 Crowd ratings, a sales intelligence and prospecting platform perfectly situated for sales development and social selling, and one of the most active Twitter profiles of anyone in the tourney. Wednesday’s 1st Round matchup against Stripe ended in dramatic fashion with a scorching come-from-behind victory. Up next: eSignature giant, DocuSign.
Seed: 2. Founded: 2003. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: eSignature.
DocuSign had an amazing run in the 2015 tournament, falling just short of victory in a Finals loss to ClearSlide. In 2016, they made another epic run to the 2016 Sweet Sixteen, before falling to InsideSales in one of the most thrilling matchups in March SaaSness history. Can DocuSign repeat past successes and make the final step to the SaaSness mountaintop? They survived a late run from Vidyard in Round 1, surrending the lead in the 11 o’clock hour before making a last-ditch comeback of their own to seal the win. They face a dangerous KiteDesk squad in Round 2.
Seed: 10. Founded: 2004. HQ: Provo, UT. Conference: Sales Acceleration.
One word: Powerhouse. InsideSales is quickly becoming a monolith in the sales acceleration space, dipping its toes into everything from phone systems (PowerDialer), predictive analytics, and even a sparse gamification feature. The billion dollar juggernaut was routed in the 1st Round of 2015 by a much more inspired SalesLoft team. They returned with a vengeance in 2016, embarking on a memorable Final Four run that ended at the hands of Influitive. They spent the initial 75 percent of Round 1 asleep at the wheel versus ClearSlide, before making a furious rally to storm ahead and advance to the Round of 32.
Seed: 15. Founded: 2014. HQ: Toronto, Ontario. Conference: Marketing.
Another representative of Toronto, Loopio makes its March SaaSness debut on the strength of strong nomination numbers and a stellar ranking on G2 Crowd. The content management platform helps companies respond to RFPs, RFIs and Security Questionairres in timely fashion. Loopio responded to the epic challenge posed by their Round 1 matchup versus Slack. They hung close with the 2 seed into the final quarter of voting, then found a 5th gear to charge ahead and seal a spot in Round 2. Their reward? A date with another heavyweight – InsideSales.
Monday Matchups – Region 2
Seed: 1. Founded: 2006. HQ: Boston. Conference: Marketing.
There are a lot of companies in this tournament who can lay claim to being the biggest, baddest, most influential SaaS companies on the block. But HubSpot, as of March 2017, might have the most legitimate argument in their corner. The reach of their influence, power of their brand and precedent-setting strategies with content marketing, sales-marketing alignment, candidate screening and science-driven business strategies will resonate long into the future. They are a SaaS tentpole, a Marketing Automation force and the returning March SaaSness competitor perhaps most likely to equal and exceed its deep runs from 2015 and 2016. Is 2017 the year they break through to the Final Four? Last year’s darlings, Lever, had designs on a second consecutive shocking Round 1 upset. HubSpot thwarted that idea with a clutch 11th hour rally to grab the win.
Seed: 8. Founded: 2011. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Sales Acceleration.
Fresh off a $15 million dollar Series B round, ToutApp sprinted into the 2015 Sweet 16. Last year, the sales acceleration company wasn’t so lucky, falling to Basecamp in Round 1. Entering 2017, ToutApp’s deep pool of in-house talent has kept up the momentum in a hyper-competitive space. This isn’t a company that shies away from competition -and sure enough, they proved how battle-tested they were with a warp speed comeback versus HR juggernaut Workday in Round 1. Could they be giant killers once again versus HubSpot? We’ll find out come Monday.
Seed: 5. Founded: 2005. HQ: Los Altos, CA. Conference: Collaboration.
A 2015 Final Four team, Box emerged the sole survivor from that year’s “Region of Death” before falling to fellow heavyweight, DocuSign. In 2016, the SaaS juggernaut was blindsided in Round 2 by Influitive, who pulled the shocking upset and kept Box from a second consecutive deep March SaaSness run. What to expect in 2017? A lot. This is a company that has IPO’ed while acquiring no less than 9 other companies. It’s never a smart move to bet against Aaron Levie and company. They returned to form in a convincing Round 1 win versus Gusto. A date with white hot returning champion Zoom looms in Round 2.
Seed: 4. Founded: 2011. HQ: San Jose. Conference: Communications.
Your reigning March SaaSness champions. A last-minute addition to the 2016 field, Zoom campaigned its way into the Field of 64 with a very exciting resume. At the forefront of video conferencing, Zoom seems poised to blaze a new trail in how companies communicate while making the world an even smaller place to do business. The sizzle and preliminary hype was backed up in spades, as Zoom launched an unforgettable run to March SaaSness history. Can they repeat as champions in 2017? Their title defense began successfully with a Round 1 win over Workfront. Final Four veterans Box await in Round 2.
Seed: 11. Founded: 1999. HQ: Santa Monica, CA. Conference: HR Software.
A comprehensive learning and talent management platform that IPO’ed 6 years ago, Cornerstone OnDemand makes its March SaaSness tournament debut on the strength of a resume with eerily similar comparisons to Round 1 foe, Intacct. Founded way back in 1999, Cornerstone is enjoying its fourth consecutive Gartner Magic Quadrant designation as a leader in Talent Management software. Over 19.1 million employees use Cornerstone across 191 countries and 42 languages – lots of potential voters to help enable a deep tournament run for CoD in 2017. They enter Round 2 after embarking on a stunning out-of-nowhere comeback to take down Intacct.
Seed: 3. Founded: 2008. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Presentations.
Another March SaaSness newcomer with a peerless industry reputation, Prezi has been disrupting the way people make presentations for almost a full decade. Now offering a SaaS-modeled business presentation platform, Prezi is poised for a potentially deep run in the 2017 tournament. Because putting an end to boring slideshow presentations everywhere is a cause everyone canl rally around, don’t be surprised to see Prezi to make some major noise in its introductory March SaaSness appearance. It’s off to a good start after capsizing a frantic LeanData comeback in Round 1.
Seed: 10. Founded: 2011. HQ: Redwood City, CA. Conference: Support.
Gainsight’s 360° Customer Success platform is jaw dropping in its totality of application. The potential breadth and scope of its value-adds, which range from improving customer retention, to driving client advocacy to increasing upsells is a siren song to any company that values fast, easy revenue (i.e. all of them). Last year, Gainsight had just pocketed a $50 million Series D round and rode its dizzying growth trajectory to a Round 1 upset over LogMeIn. Can Gainsight’s own customers advocate them to a deeper run in this year’s March SaaSness Tournament? Their support was enough to get past Pipedrive in Round 1. Front awaits in Round 2.
Seed: 15. Founded: 2013. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Communications.
In 2015, Front shocked the world by taking down Salesforce in Round 1 of the inaugural March SaaSness Tournament. In 2016, Salesforce claimed its revenge, besting the team communication platform in a Round 1 rematch. Since then, Front has been on a roll, raising a $10M Series A round and continuing to grow its client base.Another Round 1 shocker took place versus Simply Measured. Up next: Gainsight.
Tuesday Matchups – Region 3
Seed: 1. Founded: 2010. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Social Media.
Buffer is the highest-ranked newcomer in the 2017 March SaaSness field. The company that is synonymous with social media publishing, analytics and promotion is a natural heavyweight built to wreak havoc in March SaaSness’s socially-driven tournament format. In terms of industry presence, reputation, and functionality, Buffer has all kinds of built-in advantages that could lead to a deep tournament run. They backed it up in a wire-to-wire win versus Telnyx. Their next foe: Intercom.
Seed: 9. Founded: 2011. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Communications.
After the 2015 tournament, the SaaS world began clamoring for Intercom to gain entry in our 2016 March SaaSness field. The only company that had dozens of non-employees vehemently go-to-bat for it and decry its omission as an actual snub, Intercom validated its entry into last year’s tournament by swiftly knocking off SalesLoft before falling to DocuSign in Round 2. This year, the wildly popular communications platform returns with more momentum than ever. We’ll see if it can capitalize on its recent successes and make a deep run into the 2017 tournament. A Round 2 win over Buffer would speak volumes.
Seed: 5. Founded: 2007. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Support.
Another SaaS IPO veteran, Zendesk began paving the way for streamlined, tech-enabled customer service a decade ago. Long-term backers Goldman Sachs, Redpoint Ventures and Matrix Partners have helped propel the company to the absolute zenith of the SaaS Customer Support space. A popular following in the 2015 tournament pushed Zendesk to the Sweet 16, where it lost a tough battle against DocuSign. A 2nd Round exit versus eventual champion Zoom ended their 2016 run earlier than expected, but they’ll once again be a tough out for any company in this year’s tournament. Autpilot found out the hard way. Basecamp has been warned.
Seed: 4. Founded: 1999. HQ: Chicago. Conference: Collaboration.
Basecamp is a favorite software among many, many companies thanks to its user-friendly interface, customizable collaboration settings and ability to make project management a painless experience for everyone. The Chicago-based company made it all the way to the Elite Eight in last year’s tournament before falling to eventual champions, Zoom. Can Basecamp make another deep run in 2017? Their Round 1 matchup with upset-minded Bizible barely fazed them. They’ll look to continue their run versus ZenDesk.
Seed: 11. Founded: 2008. HQ: Lindoln, Utah. Conference: Human Resources.
Another March SaaSness newcomer from the Silicon Slopes, BambooHR provides small and medium-sized businesses with subscription-based Human Resources Information Management Systems (HRIS or HRMS) that afford companies with 50 to 500 employees the functionality they need to fully manage their personnel at pricing built for the budgets. Strong pre-tourney nomination numbers plus a G2 Crowd User Satisfaction Score that stands higher-than-the-tourney-average make BambooHR an intriguing new addition to this year’s tournament. They pulled away late in their Round 1 matchup versus Outreach. Up next: a date with Talkdesk.
Seed:14. Founded: 2011. HQ: San Franciscio. Conference: Support.
The Storm Ventures-backed cloud call center software is making its second foray into March SaaSness. Last year, Talkdesk’s addition to the field came after a strong pre-Selection Sunday campaign for inclusion. They made short work of Round 1 foe BlueJeans before falling to Salesforce in the 2nd Round. For the second year in a row, the Selection Committee likes Talkdesk’s unorthodox value-adds and unique positioning within the SaaS market. They are a Round 2 win away from making some serious noise in the 2017 bracket.
Seed: 7. Founded: 2001. HQ: Chandler, AZ. Conference: eCommerce.
A new entry to our 2017 March SaaSness field, Infusionsoft provides sales and marketing automation software for small businesses that combines CRM, email marketing and e-commerce. The Chandler, Arizona based company has built an industry reputation as an all-in-one solution for companies that want fully-integrated sales and marketing operations. InfusionSoft is also a seven-time Inc. 500/5000 company funded by Goldman Sachs, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Signal Peak Ventures. Sleep on them at your own risk. They prevailed over Phoenix-based WebPT in the ‘Battle for Arizona’. But a tougher Round 2 opponent awaits: Evernote.
Seed: 2. Founded: 2007. HQ: Redwood City, CA. Conference: Productivity.
A powerhouse in the organizational communication sphere. Evernote is a borderline essential tool in the minds of its users, allowing them to easily organize and share important information internally. Evernote claims elite Venture Firms like Sequoia Capital as investors and has proven itself to be a part of the SaaS industry’s very fabric. An Elite 8 loss to DocuSign ended its 2015 run, followed by a Sweet 16 upset at the hands of Influitive in 2016. This year’s path to the Final Four will be just as tough, starting with a difficult Round 1 matchup versus Birst.
Tuesday Matchups – Region 4
Seed: 1. Founded: 2007. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Collaboration.
Founded by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, Dropbox is a powerful figure in the SaaS world with legions of followers to call upon at any given matchup in this year’s tournament. Its Twitter following: in the millions. Its valuation: in the billions. Dropbox has already made runs to the Elite Eight in 2015 and the Sweet 16 in 2016. Will this be the year they break through to the Final Four? Their absurdly high Ambition Score indicates yes. Their Round 2 date versus Datanyze will be their first real challenge.
Seed: 9. Founded: 2012. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: Sales Intelligence.
The sales intelligence pioneers at Datanyze have spent the last few years achieving hyper-growth, building an industry-leading product and getting Mark Cuban and M.G. Siegler in their investment corners. Early exits in the 2015 and 2016 tournaments notwithstanding, they are a 2017 dark horse contender with high upside. Dozens of Datanyze nominations poured in during this year’s pre-tournament selection process. An intriguing Round 1 date with Velocify ended favorably and in decisive fashion. Next: they tango with Dropbox.
Seed: 5. Founded: 2006. HQ: Vancouver. Conference: Sales Intelligence.
DiscoverOrg is another March SaaSness newcomer with strong industry bona fides and the potential to make a splash in this year’s bracket. The Vancouver-based sales and marketing intelligence leader is used by over 2,000 of the world’s fastest growing companies and has made Inc.’s 5000 fastest-growing companies list six times. Based on those data points, our intelligence sources indicate DiscoverOrg to be very capable of a deep run in this year’s tournament. They made short work of Greenhouse in Round 1. Constant Contact awaits in Round 2.
Seed: 4. Founded: 1998. HQ: Waltham, MA. Conference: Marketing.
A veteran of SaaS marketing software, Constant Contact has been providing email, social media and event marketing tools to help small businesses grow their customer base since 1998. The company IPO’ed nearly a decade ago and hasn’t slowed down since, now counting 500,000 small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and member associations among its clientele. The tournament newcomer outlasted Infer in an intriguing Round 1 matchup between industry veteran and young upstart. In Round 2, they met a fellow tenured SaaS company, DiscoverOrg.
Seed: 6. Founded: 2006. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Applications.
March SaaSness newcomer Mulesoft is the SaaS platform your most treasured technology products rely on to operate successfully. Mulesoft’s flexible, unified platform connects nearly any application or system by leveraging APIs to quickly and securely share data, regardless of format or source, in application networks. This company is at the heart of the applications and services you use every day, like Netflix, Spotify and Salesforce, from Global 500 corporations to emerging companies in more than 60 countries. It has all the chops for a deep run in this year’s tournament. Their Round 1 bout with Mavenlink was a thorough dismantling. Marketing Automation giant Marketo lurks in Round 2.
Seed: 3. Founded: 2006. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: Marketing.
Marketo’s March SaaSness history began ignomiously – with a shocking Round 1 loss to Infer in 2015. Heading into last year’s tournament, a Marketo executive approached Ambition Co-Founder Brian Trautschold at SaaStr to make sure that March SaaSness would be returning and that Marketo would have a shot at redemption. The answer to both questions – a resounding yes. Marketo advanced to the Sweet 16 in last year’s tournament where it lost a hard-fought nailbiter versus Mailchimp. We expected to see another impressive showing in this year’s tournament from the #1 Marketing Software Vendor on the INC. 500 list. We did not expect a serious gut check in fending off a last minute lead change and spirited rally from upset-minded Terminus. Marketo meets MuleSoft in Round 2.
Seed: 7. Founded: 2010. HQ: Provo, UT. Conference: Business Intelligence.
Carrying the Business Intelligence torch for Utah’s growing SaaS empire is Domo. The 2015 Tournament saw Domo give a respectable run to the Sweet 16. Hopes for a deeper run in 2016 ended abruptly with a 2nd Round loss at the hands of Stripe. Heading into the 2017 tournament, Domo has been continuing its recent tear. The BI platform has pulled in $431M in venture capital funding since the 2015 tournament. Can they ride the recent hype to a deep tournament run? Their initial hammering of Filemaker indicates ‘yes’. Self-styled Cinderella Engagio awaits in Round 2.
Seed: 15. Founded: 2015. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: Marketing.
This year’s tournament preview concludes appropriately enough with the youngest company in this year’s tournemant (and first to be younger than March SaaSness itself), Engagio. The account based marketing platform built by former Marketo Co-Founder Jon Miller just raised a $22M Series B last August and has been steamrolling towards high-growth with software specifically built for enterprise-focused sales and marketing efforts. Strong early reviews and palpable industry hype make Engagio an interesting opponent in this year’s tournament. They delivered the fireworks we expected in their explosive 11th hour comeback and resounding win over Mailchimp. Domo will be just as tall a mountain to climb.
Want more information? Visit Tourney Central at ambition.com/saasness/.