Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's a ZEN day!

Today is a very special day for me as as an entrepreneur and investor. About an hour ago, Zendesk went public on the New York Stock Exchange. The last time I watched an IPO so carefully was when, the company that had bought my price comparison startup, went public – almost ten years ago.

Here are a few visual impressions of my love affair with Zendesk, which began six years ago:

Huge congrats and thanks to the entire Zendesk team – I couldn't be more proud of you guys!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Three more ways to look at cohort data

I've just added three new charts to my Excel template for cohort analysis.

The first one shows the MRR development of several customer cohorts over the cohorts' lifetime:

Each of the green lines represents a customer cohort. The x-axis shows the "lifetime month", so the dot at the end of the line at the bottom right, for example, represents the MRR of the January 2013 customer cohort (all customers who converted in January 2013) in their 9th month after converting.
Here are some of the things that you can see in this chart:

The second chart is based on exactly the same data but shows MRR for calendar months as opposed to cohort lifetime months, and it uses a slightly different visualization:

One of the things you can see here is the contribution of older cohorts to your current MRR (something to keep in mind if you're considering a price increase and are thinking about the impact of grandfathering):

The third chart shows cumulated revenues minus CACs for different customer cohorts, i.e. it shows how much revenues a customer cohort has generated less the costs that it took to acquire the cohort:

The purpose of this one is to show if you're getting better or worse with respect to one of the most important SaaS metrics: The CAC payback time, i.e. the time it takes until a customer becomes profitable. Note that for simplicity reasons the chart is based on revenues. If you use it in real life, it should be based on gross profits, i.e. revenues minus CoGS.

What you can see here is that the first cohorts cross the x-axis (a.k.a. become profitable) around the 6th lifetime month, whereas newer cohorts are crossing or can be expected to cross the x-axis further to the left, i.e. become profitable faster.

If you want to take a closer look, here's the latest version of the Excel template, which includes the new charts. Or even better, download it and pay with a tweet! :)