On the back of Paddle raising $200 million at a $1.4 billion valuation the other week, the London startup is making a key acquisition to bring more functionality to its payments platform for SaaS companies. It has acquired ProfitWell, which has built a popular set of tools to provide analytics and retention tools to companies that sell their products by way of subscriptions. Paddle is buying technology and product, but also an interesting user base: ProfitWell says it has more than 30,000 customers, including big names in the world of SaaS services like Canva, Hubspot, Notion, Zenefits, Prezi and Autodesk, all of which now become Paddle customers.
The deal is valued at more than $200 million, Paddle said, in a combination of cash and equity. Paddle itself has some 3,000 customers; and beyond that it has gained some notoriety around being a fly in the ointment for Apple, by building and preparing to launch (provided Apple opens up its platform, or is mandated to) an alternative to Apple’s native in-app payments flow for iOS publishers that want to take more direct control of their subscriptions and billing.
“Paddle and ProfitWell share a common goal: maximising our software customers’ revenue by taking care of the operational and financial obstacles that cost unnecessary time and manpower. Both companies aim to “do it for you”, rather than just help you solve it,” said Christian Owens, Paddle’s CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “That’s why we’re thrilled to announce we’re acquiring ProfitWell. Having created the number one subscription metrics product in the market, and cemented its reputation as a renowned authority on revenue growth in the $400 billion SaaS industry, ProfitWell will add considerable value to our offering. We couldn’t be more excited to have Patrick and the team on board helping us achieve our mission of running and growing SaaS businesses automatically.”
Boston-based ProfitWell appears to have been bootstrapped, giving its co-founders, which include CEO Patrick Campbell, a tidy return. All of the startup’s employees will join Paddle, with Campbell becoming Paddle’s chief strategy officer, and another co-founder, Facundo Chamut, becoming the startup’s chief product officer.
The deal underscore’s Paddle’s ambition to build out a more complete platform around its core payments business. That’s a very classic playbook for a payments company not just because digital payments remains a low-margin business; but because providing a wider array of services around those payments helps diversify revenues, and it creates more of an ecosystem of products to help lock in customers and keep them loyal.
This is also the route that payments behemoth Stripe has also been taking as it has expanded its services (most recently: launching an app marketplace to complement Stripe’s native products). In the case of Paddle, ProfitWell gives the company a pretty full suite of services catering to SaaS businesses: alongside its core payment product, it will offer taxes, billing and reporting, and now retention and pricing analytics as well — all services that SaaS-based companies need to run their subscription businesses and reduce churn, but not necessarily “core” to the technology that they themselves are building to sell to others.
The issue of retention (and its flip side, churn) is a big one in the world of SaaS: there has long been an aspect to subscriptions where users enter payment details once and actively but also sometimes inadvertently forget about paying again, turning them into recurring customers.
But as the market matures, and we find ourselves swinging into a tighter phase of the economy and spending, some will want to move away from that and take a more proactive role in managing spend.
“At ProfitWell, we’re committed to supercharging revenue growth for some of the most exciting, forward-thinking businesses on the planet, and by joining forces with Paddle we see an opportunity to do even more,” said Campbell in a statement. “Paddle shares our mission to help thousands of software businesses avoid the operational hurdles that stand in the way of growth by taking these problems on completely ourselves. Those shared objectives, combined with the natural cultural fit between our two companies, meant adding our subscription metrics and retention tools to the offering just made perfect sense. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to bring our teams together to build a truly holistic, powerful payments infrastructure at the heart of the SaaS market.”
Interestingly, while ProfitWell’s products (its flagship service is fittingly branded “Retain”) are geared to analyzing millions of data points to help its customers identify when someone is running the risk of churning away and provide tools to stop that from happening, the product itself is not priced on that premise but on a pay-as-you-use model, not unlike AWS: the basic tariff for the service is zero, with customers paying only when revenue gets recovered. (It also offers reporting tools for recognized revenue and a “Price Intelligently” to help businesses analyze and set up more accurate and successful subscription pricing for customers, and these are priced on a monthly basis.)
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