By nearly every measure — stock appreciation, brand awareness, business execution — Pluralsight’s IPO and subsequent first quarter results were nothing less than spectacular. Just look at the numbers…the stock is up 120% since going public on May 17, the company trades at over 20x revenues (nearly double the multiple of the mighty Workday), and the market cap has reached nearly $5 billion.
Kudos to Pluralsight CEO, Aaron Skonnard for sharing his experiences before, during and after the IPO. You often hear that IPOs are the beginning not the end. Whether the former or the later, as Aaron shares, IPOs take years of preparation and can be a meaningful event in any companies history. While financial performance and market opportunity often determine public markets appetite, successful IPOs require well-aligned financial planning, messaging & positioning, communications, product strategy, sales cadence and even customer success.
What did Pluralsight get right?
Dialing in the metrics — Its clear the management team has put a lot of energy towards building a sustainable and predictable revenue model. The unsung heroes in any IPO are financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams that run many scenarios to model base, bull and bear cases. Those models, though, must be matched with a thoughtful product and go-to-market strategy. Both have been manifested with accelerating growth, strong billings and other efficiencies. SaaS investors like predictable, recurring revenue and growth acceleration and Pluralsight delivered.
Simplifying the vision — In a world where every company is a technology company, the demand for technology skills are universal and virtually limitless. A simple CEO letter is a powerful way to convey the vision and mission of the company. I encourage you to read it.
Marketing perfection— Great marketing entails well-aligned corporate messaging, brand identity, product marketing, and communications strategy. Anyone that’s every been through a messaging and positioning exercise at a company realize its really hard to simplify both the product vision that matches with the ethos of a company. Pluralsight nailed it. “Making tech skills accessible to all” and “develop the skills of tomorrow” are simple yet powerful messages that are conveyed visually and verbally throughout Pluralsight’s brand identity.
Sales conversion. It appears Pluralsight is having strong momentum converting clients from standard or “professional” pricing to “enterprise” pricing. The result is a significant uplift in the unit economics. Adding analytics, assessment and their newly launched IQ products deliver value to administrators, managers, and individual users that you don’t always see in enterprise software.
Finding uniqueness in the story. Storytelling extends beyond a company’s mission, vision and product. In fact, the best companies are remembered by the impact they have locally, nationally, and globally.
Who would have thought Utah would be a powerful tech hub 10 years ago? Pluralsight has helped define “Silicon Slopes”, an emerging tech scene in greater Salt Lake City. If you haven’t read the Forbes cover story from last year, its worth a read.
Rising tides lift all boats and certainly Pluralsight has elevated other companies in Utah including Qualtrics, HireVue, BambooHR, and many others. Pluralsight has also embraced the 1% pledge movement in an effort to have a greater impact on society as a whole…
I look forward to watching the Pluralsight journey and witnessing their continued impact for both companies and individuals embracing technology.
(Cross-posted @ Arcadian Insights - Jason Corsello)