What's 🔥 in Enterprise IT/VC #228

What did Snyk look like in 2015 on its way to a $4.7 billion valuation + its relentless focus on the developer experience

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been one year since the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In some ways, the time went by incredibly slow and in other ways it went by incredibly fast. Regardless, there is an insane amount of capital still flowing into startups and FOMO is at an all time high.

From YC…

To NFTs (this sold for $63,000 - must be the music) to

board meetings as investors are trying to figure out the next big thing.

Everything enterprise is on 🔥, lots of 💰 still on the sidelines, and the pace of preemptive rounds is accelerating. This means that it is even more important for founders to get to know their next round investor as taking money too quickly is the equivalent of meeting someone on Tinder and getting married to them in 4 days.

Switching gears, Snyk, a developer first security company, just announced its Series E financing at a $4.7 billion valuation, up from $2.6 billion in Q3 2020. Snyk grew over 200% YoY and has created a new shift ⬅️ movement for developer first security in just 5 years. If you’ve read my newsletter the past few weeks, you know that companies like Datadog and Palo Alto Networks have recently made acquisitions of Sqreen and Bridgecrew as they move into the world of DevSecOps.

While the idea of shifting ⬅️ is now becoming commonplace, I wanted to share with you a few slides from our original investment, on day one, when Guy Podjarny started Snyk with Danny Grander and Assaf Hefetz. Check out my Medium post from 2018 for the rest of the slides. What was the industry like in 2015? Here’s slide #1.

Notice who the dev-friendly comps are - there weren’t many at the time and the only public company was New Relic whose market cap is now $3.9 billion while all of the others scaled to tremendous success between the day Snyk started and now. The rise of the developer first model is still in the early innings!

Secondly, look at the company mission - developer friendly security. This was baked into the DNA of the company on day one in terms of how to build product and how to go to market. This also means at every board and company meeting there was a relentless focus on individual users and prioritizing developer experience above all else. Here’s Guy Podjarny reflecting back on the journey the last 5 years:

Today is also a good time for reflection. I strongly believe that getting to this point was made possible by sticking to our original founding principle: developer-first security that prioritizes the developer experience first and foremost. We have an amazing 2.2 million developers in the Snyk community, rewarding us for our conviction and commitment to developers, and helping us advance the security industry.

Here’s a snippet from the 1st investor update February 2016, 5 mos after funding - it takes time to build a movement…

22 months after funding July 2017 - focus on the users, reduce friction, improve onboarding

March 2018 - press release from the A round which we led (boldstart) after having already led the initial seed funding round.

A little over 5 years after initial funding, here is Peter McKay highlighting devs in the Series E announcement.

Our relentless focus on the experience of the 2.2 million developers building applications of all kinds securely with Snyk has resulted in our success to date, and we believe there is an exponential, generational opportunity still in front of us,” said Peter McKay, CEO, Snyk. “This latest investment allows us to accelerate our growth at every level – doubling down on our successful product led growth strategy, adding to our customer roster, recruiting talent to our team worldwide and expanding geographically.

Notice the consistent messaging - developers!

Finally, I wanted to leave you with one last thought. As a day one investor, we partner with people and Guy Podjarny is someone we wanted to back no matter what, having already partnered with him previously on Blaze.io which was sold to Akamai. What this also means is that I need to constantly remind myself that “it’s not the TAM you start with but the TAM you exit with.” I’ve missed a few good ones by not betting on great founders with an incredible focus on user pain and product where the markets were not as clear in the beginning but many times grew faster than we ever thought they would.

Here’s the initial Snyk crack at what its market potential was.

At $4.7 billion, Snyk’s valuation is higher than all of the initial markets that were laid out in the deck. So what happened? The market for developer first security did not exist at all and Snyk created it. It started slowly, one user at a time, and then has just exploded from there. The rise of the developer across all enterprise software became a thing and Snyk strategically and carefully added product after product to expand the share of wallet at their customers by listening to their customers - container image scanning, container run time, SAST, and cloud configuration. If you’re interested in the 5 Lessons Learned as Snyk Scaled to 1.5M Devs in 5 Years, check out What’s Hot Issue 202.

Congrats Snyk and super excited about the road ahead!

As always, 🙏🏼 for reading and please share with your friends and colleagues.

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Scaling Startups

  1. 👇🏼 who is your user and what is their journey - figure that out and test

  2. A must read for founders trying to kickstart a developer community - Orbit shares some of their secrets - one user at a time and fast enagement

    Our community members were — and still are — some of the best minds in DevRel and community, and we wanted to demonstrate how seriously we took their input and feedback.

    For most of 2020, Josh, Nicolas, and I were active in Slack pretty much every day, responding to every single product-related question or concern.

    We got in the habit of shipping feature requests and bug fixes quickly — often the very same day.

    This delivery cadence helped us build credibility with the community and confidence that we may indeed be able to deliver on all the concepts and wireframes we were sharing.

    Not only were these conversations pivotal in the development of the product, our quick turnaround on requests incentivized folks to share their ideas or challenges as well, knowing that the core team would quickly respond and address their situation.

  3. Reminder when creating an open core company, focus on user ❤️ first, revenue comes later - too often I see companies pushing the revenue agenda too early which then creates a negative affect on the community. Read more about the InfluxDB story here and how Paul Dix started it.

    Paul decided to go the commercial open source route and follow a simple 4 step process to create InfluxDB:

    1. Create an open source project

    2. Make it hugely popular 

    3. Monetize it somehow

    4. Generate profit 

    In other words, Paul started without a clear monetization plan, but was confident that there would be some way to make money further down the road. The important thing was to make it open source as that was the only way developers would buy into it…

    The OS community has grown massively too - from 10,000 servers in 2016 to more than 400,000 single servers today.

  4. 🎧

  5. Dan Rose on what he learned about leadership and scaling from Sheryl Sandberg

Enterprise Tech

  1. Universal truth from James Governor

  2. Important reminder that you don’t need massive amounts of VC 💰 to build a huge company - the Zapier story from Alex Konrad

  3. Martin Casado and Jennifer Li (a16z) with a great post on “Bottom Up Pricing & Packaging: Let the User Journey Be Your Guide”

  4. Bessemer State of the Cloud 2021 is here - high multiples, high growth rates, and lots of capital = more 🦄. This says it all - efficient GTM motions

  5. OpenView’s usage based pricing playbook is here

  6. 👇🏼 check this out…

  7. MongoDB on shift to cloud and SaaS as Atlas (hosted MongoDB) grew 66% YoY and is now almost 50% of revenue - also speaks to one of best revenue models for open source cos, SaaS

    And to build your differentiated future using software and data, you have to maximize the productivity of your developers. Managing data is a developer's most challenging problem and the biggest drain on their productivity. Legacy platforms are not designed for how developers think and code, nor they're designed for performance and scale. This problem only gets worse as the data intensity and performance requirements of modern applications increase.

  8. Speaking of MongoDB, Couchbase, a mongo competitor and OSS NoSQL database co, filed to go public and is at over $100M annual revenue

  9. Salesforce Ventures is a great partner to have - nice story on “How Salesforce became Silicon Valley’s best late-stage tech investor

  10. If you missed the Israeli DevOps club talk I did with my friend Omri Green from Grove Ventures, you can check it out here. We discussed what it means to be developer first, the importance of product velocity and hiring velocity, and some of the main challenges dev first companies face in the early days.


  1. Great reminder of investing for the long term at end of day, sales growth matters

  2. SPAC market top 🤣 - for those too young to know who Sammy is, he’s a rock star

  3. Asana at over $200M revenue