It’s instructive to monitor the progress of all the companies that launched at the midpoint of the last decade. One of these is Utah-based Podium, which just announced it had raised another $201 million. This raise comes on top of its already $218 million of venture capital funding since its 2014 launch. The company now looks toward a 2022 IPO. The latest round values the company in the $3 billion range.
What is super interesting is to read how Podium now positions the company as a communications and payments tool. Back in January of 2017, this is how the company positioned itself. “A SaaS platform that enables businesses to build and manage their online reputation through user-generated content and online reviews.”
Those are two very different positioning statements and they speak to the considerable evolution in the local business and SMB SaaS world.
“We see this as a watershed moment for local businesses all over the world. Especially as the world opens up again and local businesses are tasked with meeting the changing preferences of consumers who have welcomed digital-first interactions through the pandemic,” said Podium Co-founder and CEO Eric Rea. “Our goal is to help communities get back on their feet. And to help local businesses participate in a meaningful way in the digital evolution happening at the local level.”
Going Deep in Communications and Payments
With now more than 100,000 businesses on the platform, the company is looking to deepen its efforts in payments and communications solutions and broaden its coverage to other parts of the world.
Once thought of as a pure-play in the reputation and review space and like its peers, the company is clearly broadening how they want the marketplace to think about them. In the conversation with Bloomberg, CEO Rea said that the company had well over $100 million in ARR. As we wrote recently, Podium’s competitor Thryv is fast approaching $150 million in SaaS revenue. Yet Thryv’s valuation is a mere $1.2 billion. And then there’s Toast, which went public earlier this year with a valuation of $24 billion as of today.
We wonder if Podium will now turn to the acquisition route to build its customer base and ARR. We believe there are companies out there that began around the same time as Podium that would entertain offers. And we believe the strategy of offering a point solution is essentially over in the local, SMB space. Rather, anyone wanting the attention and the business of that market will necessarily have to offer simple to use, robust solutions. Not to mention platforms that make life easier and less complicated for the local business owner.
And while we’re at it, those same solutions and platforms will have to share the same functionality as platforms built for larger customers. The good news, there’s plenty of money fueling the SMB SaaS space. And it’s going to take all of that and some really smart product people to make it all happen in ways that businesses and their customers see a difference.