Docusign went public in 2018 with $381mm of total revenue and 350,000 total customers. While Docusign is a success, it wasn’t a straight line. Below is a graphic taken from Docusign’s public filings which shows what I’m talking about.
Docusign muddled along for years. Founded in 2003, the graph shows that by 2010 the Company had what looks like less than $10mm of revenue by that 7th year. Furthermore there was almost no growth in revenue from 2010 to 2011. The real growth didn’t actually start until 2013 when pivotal events were partnerships with Google and Oracle. That’s a full 10 years after founding.
They burned through $650mm. That’s an extraordinary amount of capital for a software business. For comparison, we find that the median amount of equity and debt publicly traded SaaS companies have gone through before going public is under $200mm.
Docusign went through a few CEO’s. The CEO at the time of going public, Daniel Springer, became CEO in 2017. From 2011 to January 2017 the CEO was Keith Krach. It’s unclear who the CEO was prior to 2011. The founder, Thomas Gonser, serves on the board. While it’s not uncommon for the founder to be replaced when a company transitions from startup stage to hundreds of millions of revenue, there are plenty of examples of tech companies where the founder is still the CEO (Salesforce, Snapchat, Facebook, Dropbox, Box, etc) and obviously you don’t change CEO’s unless there is a problem.