October 1, 2020

How bad will SaaS churn get in the downturn?

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.
This morning we’re talking about churn — the bane of software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies big and small — in the new world we find ourselves in. SaaS companies, from startups to huge public firms, have built their businesses under strong economic conditions. So what happens to the industry now that the global economy has hit pause, layoffs are piling up across national economies and venture capital is slowing?
It’s easy to say that churn will go up; some customers will close, cancelling contracts (boosting gross churn) while other customers will slow software budget growth (limiting net retention). But how bad will things really get? To get a handle on what’s next for churn, I spoke to the CEO of CrowdStrike, a public SaaS company; the CEO Gainsight, a quickly-growing private SaaS company who recently ran a survey on the topic; and Denis Barrier. a partner at venture capital firm Cathay Innovation. We also have fresh data to explore from Cledara, a startup that helps other companies control their software spend.
Let’s go!
Churn

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