San Francisco is not just about the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, or Cable Cars. It’s also about Silicon Valley and about SaaS companies.
San Francisco is famous for many things Who doesn’t recognize such icons as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and of course the hills and cable cars. San Francisco itself has around 900.000 inhabitants. Combined with San Jose, Oakland, and Berkely the wider San Francisco area is the fourth largest agglomeration in the United States. With well over 7 million inhabitants.
It’s not just monuments and tourist attractions that put San Francisco on the map. Sadly, it’s not all positive. As a matter of fact, one thing that makes San Francisco so famous could wipe the city from the map completely: the city is located right on top of the San Andreas vault, one of the most geo-active faultlines on the planet. This means that earthquakes are quite common and that the city could be struck by a killer quake any day.
This risk doesn’t discourage the San Franciscans, though. If anything, it motivates them to live life to the fullest. The city is known for its liberal attitude, boasting one of the most vibrant gay communities in the US. And it’s the cradle of innovation. Silicon Valley may only be the south side of the city, but it has become a synonym for the city. Heck, it’s quite well possible that many people know about Silicon Valley, without realizing it’s part of San Francisco.
With such a strong track record, it won’t be a surprise to hear that Silicon Valley and the Greater San Francisco Area are home to a large number of SaaS companies. In this article, we will explore a few of the many SaaS companies from San Francisco.
Who has never heard of DocuSign? This SaaS company, which was founded in 2003, tackles one of the big challenges of digitalization of business processes: authorization. In the early days, founder Thomas (Tom) Gonser probably had to overcome some skepticism.
In the old world, we’ve become accustomed to putting a signature on documents. But how to do this online? You can’t write on your screen, after all. It’s safe to say Gonser succeeded to convince us all. DocuSign was one of the first companies to develop a cloud-based electronic signature platform that’s available to companies of any size.
The DocuSign platform automates many paper-based processes, including identity management, authentication, digital signature, and many other steps needed to fully automate workflow.
Since its founding, DocuSign has become one of the market leaders. In the first quarter of 2021, the company reported a revenue of US$ 469.1 million (+58% compared to a year earlier). The SaaS company now has offices in London, Sydney, Sao Paulo, and Dublin.
GitLab is another San Francisco SaaS company that achieved somewhat of a Rockstar status. The company was founded in 2014 by Dmitriu Zaporozhets and Sytse Sijbrandij, but their project already started in 2011. They built a web-based open source Git repository, added a wiki and issue tracking features, and made a platform that (in their own words) is a “single application for unparalleled collaboration, visibility, and development velocity.
It would be very easy to confuse GitLab with that other code depository named GitHub. GitHub might have entered the marketplace way before GitLab (2008 versus 2014/2011), but many developers prefer GitLab.
One of the reasons for this preference that all code on GitHub is open source, while on GitLab you can hide your projects from the public eye. That GitHub was acquired by tech-giant Microsoft also made some users wonder if they should continue to use the platform.
The biggest difference between the two is a killer feature developed by GitLab: the Continuous Integration/Delivery-functionality (CI/CD). This CI/CD lets coders integrate their code in a shared repository, validating the code as it is added.
Thanks to the CI/CD, the reputation of listening to its users, and of course the free (basic) subscription GitLab has convinced 30 million members from 69 countries to use their platform.
These days, anyone can start a website to offer their products. Accepting online payments, however, are a bit more difficult to organize properly. Stripe, a SaaS company from San Francisco that was founded in 2010, has specialized in processing web and mobile payments.
While the company proudly mentions it works for large companies such as Booking.com, Deliveroo, Amazon, SalesForce, Slack, Lyft, and others, Stripe is quick to emphasize it works for companies of all sizes “from startups to Fortune 500s.
As a matter of fact, Stripe does not consider itself a payment processor, they describe what they do as building economic infrastructure for the internet. The company actively tries to facilitate new business models, like crowdfunding and marketplaces.
Today, the company offers a long list of products. Not just online payments or in-person payments, but also subscription management, invoicing, spend management for companies, business financing, Banking-as-a-Service, and even fraud&risk management, and a climate service for carbon removal.
It’s considered common knowledge that humans are visual beings. When given the choice between a written explanation and a visualization, most of us will choose the visualization. MURAL offers a digital workspace for visual collaboration in enterprises.
Companies use the products from this San Francisco-based SaaS company to better understand and solve problems. MURAL goes beyond the online whiteboard, providing a platform that can be used for anything; from product strategy, brainstorming, planning, and leading immersive workshops.
Since its founding in 2011, the company received $142.3M in funding, which helped the company grow and welcome clients such as Autodesk, Zapier, IBM, and Emerson.
We spend a large part of our day on the phone, talking to clients, coworkers, and managers. After we hang up, we might take some notes. But much of the phone call is lost. DialPad created an AI-powered cloud communications platform for call centers that creates native, real-time transcription and automated note-taking. It also performs a live sentiment and voice analysis.
Combined with a number of other products, DialPad claims to cover the full range of modern business communications needs. Not with Artificial Intelligence (AI), though. The people behind Dialpad claim that there is nothing artificial about what they are doing, so they prefer to call it Voice Intelligence (VI) and describe it as something that “transforms your conversations into something you can see and use, so you always understand, remember and learn from everything that’s said long after the conversation is over.”
Everybody loves relational databases, right? Well, not quite. Creating and sharing relational databases is often considered complex, something to be left to the expert (a.k.a. Power User). Airtable tries to bring relational databases to the masses.
The company created a new type of flexible tool that anyone can use. With Airtable, end-users can create and share their own workflows for anything, whether they are organizing a major event, or managing the editorial calendar.
One of the main drivers of the Airtable-popularity is that it looks so familiar. It looks a lot like a spreadsheet, except that it is a lot more powerful. Due to the flexibility, Airtable can scale up with the growth of your business (and the increased knowledge of your employees.
Since it was founded in 2013 Airtable raised a total amount of funding of $ 617.6 (8 funding rounds). The most recent round was in March 2021, when 5 investors decided to fund the company with an additional $270M.
#7 Resident Boost
So far, this list is full of established companies. But as you probably know, we love startups. One promising SaaS company from San Francisco is Resident Boost.
This is one of those companies that started because the founders were frustrated about something. In this case, Kendrick Bradley and Shiv Gettu were trying to lease their own apartments and discovered that the process was fragmented and the workflow was broken.
Instead of just “dealing with it”, these two decided they could do better and built a real estate leasing CRM that should make leasing frictionless and smooth. Using conversational AI and machine learning, Resident Boost should reduce the time and involvement needed from tenants, landlords, and property managers.
The company is still quite young, as it was founded in August 2020. So far, it has been operating on $500K seed money, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Resident Boost becomes a nice opportunity to invest.
2020 proves that something tiny can have a huge impact. Pushed forward by the covid-19 pandemic, the world witnessed the birth of many new educational IT tools.
One very recent newcomer is Teachfloor, a SaaS company from San Francisco. This company founded on January 1st, 2021 promises to deliver all-in-one software to build the school of the future. According to the company, the school of the future is an online academy, so it focuses on online teaching. It allows trainers to build a cohort-based course that can be sold online. It helps you manage students’ activities, offers several ways to increase learning engagement, and helps you build a student community.
Of course, the online academy isn’t the only place to learn. Despite the huge leap in educational digitalization we experienced last years, brick-and-mortar schools are far from obsolete. But teaching isn’t just about K12, college, or university. These days, you’re never done learning, implying teaching is never done either. For all those catering to students that combine work and (additional) training, Teachfloor offers the tools you need.
Oh, and perhaps we should mention that Teachfloor uses Stripe to process payments (see #3).
Silicon Valley is the new Silicon Valley
Many regions call themselves the “new” Silicon Valley, or consider themselves “The Silicon Valley of…”. But there is only one Silicon Valley. This small selection of SaaS companies from San Francisco proves that San Francisco is still alive and kicking.
It’s not just old tech companies that are well-established. No, Silicon Valley continuously proves itself as a fertile nurture ground for innovative SaaS companies. We can’t wait to see what’s next!