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Pre-IPO Pedia | Airtable, a Low-code Platform That Benchmarks Against Excel, is Valued at Over $10B

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Moomoo IPO Buzz wrote a column · Aug 18, 2022 22:17
Pre-IPO Pedia | Airtable, a Low-code Platform That Benchmarks Against Excel, is Valued at Over $10B
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According to Lifewire, there are currently over 2 million apps on the ios app store. Agencies predict that this number could exceed 500 million by 2023.
App design is obviously a barrier for people with no programming skills. However, these people, or a large number of people, may need to develop personalized apps or simple application scenarios in their daily lives and work, but fail to do so due to the high technical barrier.
In this context, a number of low-code and no-code platforms have emerged.
Source: Airtable official website
Source: Airtable official website
The advantages of low technical barrier, short delivery cycle and high development efficiency of these kinds of platforms have quickly attracted a large number of users, especially the enterprises who would like to achieve digital businessisation.
Low-code and no-code platforms allow companies to quickly build the various "customized" operational scenarios and micro-applications they need.
Airtable, is a low-code platform that claims to allow people to "develop applications like building blocks". It started its business with spreadsheets that benchmarks against Excel, and now has more than 250,000 enterprise clients.
Source: official website
Source: official website
Today, IPO Buzz takes you to the story of Airtable.
Foundation
Airtable was founded by a Chinese-American Howie Liu who showed a talent for IT from an early age, being able to code at the age of 13.
Howie Liu (Source: official website)
Howie Liu (Source: official website)
At the age of 21, he started his first business, co-founding a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) company called Etacts with his partners.
After one year, Etacts was acquired by a CRM giant Salesforce, and Howie Liu himself joined Salesforce as well.
Shortly afterward, Howie Liu had the idea of starting his own business again. This time, he aimed at creating an "Excel alternative". He invited Andrew Ofstad, who was a product manager for Android and also led and redesigned Google Maps.
In 2012, Airtable was born with the slogan "the perfect alternative to Excel".
Source: official website
Source: official website
Between 2012 and 2018, Airtable's products were mainly cloud-based spreadsheets, aimed at SMEs (small medium enterprises).
Due to the rise of Google sheets and other cloud-based spreadsheetss, Airtable experienced a slow development period and did not become a 'hit' in the market.
Since 2018, Airtable has been focusing its products on low-code solutions.
With the templates it provides, users can build a set of applications in as little as 2 minutes, with business scenarios covering HR, finance, project management, sales, software development, content production, etc.
After positioning properly, Airtable started to grow at a fast pace. The company has doubled its number of employees every year from 70 in 2018 to nearly 600 employees by 2021.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for online collaboration has greatly increased. Therefore, Airtable saw a large-scale growth in its user base.
Up till now, more than 250,000 organisations have been using Airtable's products, including several Fortune 500 giants such as Netflix, Amazon, IBM and Nike, etc.
Source: official website
Source: official website
Business
Airtable is a collaborative cloud-based SaaS platform that enables non-technical users to build their own databases using a spreadsheet-like interface.
Some users summarize the characteristics of Airtable with a formula:
Airtable = API + database + presentation components + low-code solution
API (Application Programming Interface) means that data can be made public, helping users to build external data interfaces.
Database means that Airtable uses a relational database as the basis for organising and organising the user's data entry.
Presentation component means that data can be presented in Airtable in various forms such as tables, kanban, calendar, etc.
Based on the data, users from various backgrounds are able to output software solutions in a low-code way.
Source: official website
Source: official website
If you are still confused about the operation, I will explain the various functions of Airtable using Excel as a reference.
Airtable's product layer is a structure of Workspace> Base> Table> Fields & Records.
Firstly, Workspace is a collection of Bases shared by a team.
A Base is a database consisting of one or more tables, which is similar to a single .xlsx file.
Source: official website
Source: official website
Each Base contains one or more Tables. A Table is similar to a single Sheet in Excel and contains Fields and Records. Fields are equivalent to columns and Records are equivalent to rows in Excel.
In an Excel table, all data can be seen as text characters. In Airtable, however, each Field(column) can be set to a specific type, not only as regular texts, but also as attachments, tick boxes, QR codes and so on.
Each Record (row) could be expanded and positioned in the appropriate position when editing, and is optimised for different types of fields.
Each Table can be presented in different Views. In addition to the classic spreadsheets format, there are also calendar, kanban and gallery formats for personalization.
Source: official website
Source: official website
Financial Situation
In terms of the profit model, Airtable offers a free version for users and generates revenue by charging users for subscriptions to more advanced tools and services.
Founder Howie Liu said that Airtable currently has more than 30% of its active users paying for subscriptions and the company's ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) exceeds US$100 million.
According to research published by the market research platform SACRA in August 2021, Airtable's ARR was below USD$10 million in 2017 and by mid-2020 it exceeded $50 million. In March 2021, the figure reached USD$85 million and is expected to reach USD$115 million by the end of 2021.
SACRA says that Airtable is one of the slowest growing companies in terms of ARR from 0 to USD 10 million, and one of the fastest growing from USD 10 million to USD 100 million. Airtable has now been able to sustain a high growth rate of over $100 million in ARR.
Note: ARR refers to annual recurring revenue, which is an important index for SaaS companies to measure business operations. It is applicable to SaaS companies that rely primarily on annual contracts, supplemented by multi-year contracts. That is, customers subscribe to the product for a term of at least more than or equal to one year, and multi-year contracts are divided by the length of the contract and then spread over each year to calculate ARR.
Source: official website
Source: official website
However, insiders believe that Airtable is still "insignificant" compared to tech giants such as Microsoft. Microsoft's productivity software (including Office 365) generated $11.8 billion in revenue in the second quarter of the fiscal year 2020, and Airtable is still far from these industry giants even if it manages to maintain an ARR of over $100 million.
At the same time, Airtable faces stiff competition in the SaaS industry. In 2020, Microsoft, Google's Area 120 and Amazon all launch their SaaS products which are Lists, Tables and Honeycode, and integrate these products with their own software to create a consistent experience for users.
Therefore, it is an important issue for Airtable to differentiate itself from these competitors and to establish a clear competitive advantage.
Valuation
Since its inception, Airtable has completed 10 rounds of funding for a total of US$1.4 billion. Major investors include Silver Lake Capital, JP Morgan Chase, Boxgroup, Salesforce Ventures,etc.
Pre-IPO Pedia | Airtable, a Low-code Platform That Benchmarks Against Excel, is Valued at Over $10B
Several moves that have received high market attention include.
In November 2018, Airtable raised USD$100 million in Series C funding from investors including Benchmark, Coatue and Thrive Capital, which enabled its valuation to exceed USD$1 billion.
In September 2020, Airtable raised USD$185 million in Series D funding led by Thrive Capital, closing the round at a valuation of USD$2.585 billion.
In March 2021, Airtable announced the closing of a US$270 million Series E funding round led by Greenoaks Capital. The valuation reached US$5.77 billion, doubling the valuation from six months earlier.
In December 2021, Airtable closed a US$735 million Series F funding round, bringing its latest valuation to USD$11.7 billion.
IPO Rumors
Even though there are a lot of rumors predicting that Airtable is about to IPO after its latest funding round, it appears to be in no rush to go public.
In December 2021, when having an interview about the company's IPO plans, an Airtable spokesperson said that "no official timeline has been set."
A year ago, Airtable CEO Howie Liu also said that the company was focused on "crazy innovation" and that going public was not a priority.
Source: official website
Source: official website
Mooers, have you used Airtable before? What do you think of Airtable's future? Feel free to discuss below.
Disclaimer: Community is offered by Moomoo Technologies Inc. and is for educational purposes only. Read more
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