August 28, 2009

Winners average 8 years to $50 million in revenue

I've said many times that a startup takes at least five years to build into a relatively large, hopefully lasting company. If we aim somewhat higher we see that, on average, it took the 100 largest U.S. publicly traded software companies eight years (inflation adjusted) to reach $50 million in sales. Good to remember when playing with growth rates in Excel.

IPO Dashboards: How Long Does it Take to Build a Technology Empire? "Only 28% of the nation’s most successful public software empires were rocketships. I've defined a rocket ship as a company that reached $50 million in annual sales in 6 years or less (this is the type of growth that typically appears in VC-funded business plans). A hot shot reaches $50m in 7 to 12 years. A slow burner takes 13 years or more. Interestingly, 50% of these companies took 9 or more years to reach $50m in revenue.

Nabeel Hyatt: The quickest path to $50m in revenue? Build fun. "Turns out it takes an average of eight years to hit $50m in revenue, which is about the point when you can start thinking about things like going public. And this is for the top 100 largest software companies, so we're talking about the biggest winners here. One of the most valuable companies ever founded, in any industry, in any country, took 8 years to hit $50m in sales, Microsoft. Oracle took 10. Locally I often point to the timelines of successes like iRobot and Harmonix and the time it took them."

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