Shopify held their annual Unite conference this week, where the e-commerce platform giant announced several key product and roadmap updates:
For merchants, the announcement of the new POS system, the machine learning backed Shopify Fulfillment Network (invite only at this stage), translating stores into more languages and the rolling out of selling in multiple currencies worldwide will prove to be big wins when bridging the gap with other platforms in the space that already boast some (or all) of these functionalities.
For developers, Shopify will be much more feature-rich given the 7+ new API features, including: Translations API, which will broaden the range of languages available to build new apps as well as the languages a store publishes in; Edit Order API will allow merchants to edit an open order after it has been placed, fulfilling one of the most highly-requested features by merchants, and the Media API, which allows stores to associate videos and 3D model assets to products and related variants.
Following these announcements, Shopify’s stock [NYSE:SHOP] rose c.8% on Wednesday, reached a year-to-date high of $337.87 on Thursday morning and opened Friday at a similarly strong PPS of $328.01 [+138% YTD]. For the full list of everything announced at Shopify Unite 2019, head here.
In SaaS IPO news, Slack debuted on the NYSE this week via a direct listing. The intra-office communications giant listed at a $15.7 billion valuation, well above the $7.1 billion valuation it received last August. Shares opened at $38.50, 48% above the reference point put in place by the exchange, and stayed steady throughout the day. Slack’s direct listing follows in the footsteps set by music giant Spotify (which listed direct onto the NYSE while also offering shares), as it forewent underwriting assistance from a bank, showing Slack’s confidence in its ability to drum up demand.
Elsewhere in the world of SaaS, Mailchimp is marrying the entertainment and software industries in a bid to enter into content creation alongside major partners like Vice Media, WME, Scout Productions and Jason Woliner. Dubbed ‘Mailchimp Presents,’ the production company will work with partners who have experience under the umbrellas of Netflix and 20th Century Fox (among others), to create short-form unscripted and scripted programming in an effort to build its brand. While the email marketing platform giant has not revealed how much it will invest in original content overall, the first four videos produced cost over $6 million (as estimated by IMDb).
The world of digital marketing this week saw Google My Business add more branding tools for companies, introduce searchable ‘@shortnames’, and add ‘local favorite’ badges to the top 5% of local businesses. The new features announced will allow businesses to add a logo, cover photo, a dynamic photo carousel, welcome offers to customers following the business and a site to order promotional merchandise. Registering a desired ‘shortname’ will allow customers to search and land directly on a business’ GMB profile. Google shared at a pre-announcement event that the search engine facilitates “three billion direct connections between merchants and users per month,” highlighting the importance of an optimized GMB profile to a business’ SEO.
This week FE is pleased to highlight a new B2B SaaS Business in the Social Media Marketing Niche. The business boasts a clear value proposition in the rapidly-growing social media marketing and automation niche, robust functionality helping drive rapid product adoption and fuel growth, a large addressable market of B2B and B2C users driving an expected MRR growth rate of c.50% over the 2018 to (e)2019 period, attractive SaaS metrics with the business generating over $25K in MRR across a paying customer base of c.845 users and simple operations with low owner involvement. Please follow the link above to request more information.
In events news, Founder Thomas Smale had a great time hearing all the major updates that came out of Shopify Unite! Thanks to everyone who set up a meeting with him. The FE team also enjoyed attending SaaStock’s Summer Party and are looking forward to the next event in San Francisco this coming September. NYC SaaS founders: make sure to join us next week as we co-host the IndieHackers NYC Meetup! This upcoming meetup is a brainstorming session for all SaaS founders, operators and enthusiasts! Head to the Meetup page to RSVP and join several other SaaS founders as they come together and swap insights. You won’t want to miss it!
Continue reading below for more on Shopify Unite updates, Slack’s debut on the NYSE, ‘Mailchimp Presents,’ GMB updates and a bonus story on Facebook’s launch of Libra.
- Clear value proposition in the rapidly-growing social media marketing and automation niche
- Large addressable market of B2B and B2C users fuelling an expected MRR growth rate of c.50% over the 2018 to (e)2019 period
- Attractive SaaS metrics with the business generating over $25,000 in MRR across a paying customer base of c.845 users
- Simple operations with low owner involvement and a VA staying on post-sale
- Robust functionality helping drive rapid product adoption and fuel growth
Yearly net profit: $255,000
Asking price: $933,000
- Impressive monthly revenue growth demonstrated by a c.35% CAGR between 2016 and 2018
- Amazon approved App vendor included in the Seller Central Marketplace App store
- Prominent positioning in a lucrative and growing niche
- Simple business operations requiring low owner involvement
Yearly net profit: $110,000
Asking price: $443,000
- Informative and practical content enabling the site to rank high for organic search
- 8,100 keywords enabling the site to attract c.43,000 visitors annually
- Lean and scalable cost structure driving high net margin of c.94.6% in the LTM
- Low owner involvement creating plenty of time to invest
Yearly net profit: $8,200
Asking price: $22,000
In the News…
Shopify Makes Major Announcements from Shopify Unite
Shopify hosted its annual Shopify Unite Conference this Wednesday where they made several important update announcements.
The focus of the updates fell under an improved user experience model and is indicative of Shopify’s comprehensive understanding of what merchants and developers need. Following the announcements, the Shopify stock soared 22%. The biggest announcement from the Conference is likely the implementation of a Shopify fulfillment network, which positions the e-commerce giant to be a direct competitor of Amazon. Shopify will implement fulfillment systems, which have normally been reserved for only large corporations, available to every sized merchant. Shopify is working to attract merchants with the pitch: “we handle all the heavy lifting, you can focus on building your business.”
Other announcements include: a new key area of emphasis to make international selling much easier, including 11 new language capabilities and a new translations API, a redesign of its online store to make accessibility and navigation much easier, Shopify Plus overhaul, and next generation POS software.
Slack Debuts on NYSE
Slack made its public debut on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday under ticker “WORK”.
The e-commerce giant made its entrance with a value near $15.7 billion and “reference price” of $26 per share. Last August, the company had a valuation of $7.1 billion, significantly lower than the valuation going in to the debut. Slack, a workplace messaging app, decided to debut using a direct listing in lieu of an IPO, similar to Spotify’s debut last year. A direct listing for Slack allows the company to make its public debut without the involvement of underwriters- intermediaries who purchase shares and then sell them to the public.
Slack’s investors can immediately begin trading shares with a direct listing.
Mailchimp Launches ‘Mailchimp Presents’
Mailchimp has this week announced it is launching Mailchimp Presents, a business entertainment platform covering themes on entrepreneurship and SMBs.
The email marketing platform’s goal is to produce a series to engage small business owners in an attempt to build their brand through the production of engaging marketing content. Company executives say it will not necessarily be branded content, instead noting, “One of our guiding principles has been to create content that is immersive and captivating enough to stand on its own.” Content will take the form of films, series and podcasts and will replace producing ads with producing stories to generate conversation.
A non-exclusive contract with WME will work with Mailchimp in their development pipeline.
Google My Business Updates
Google announced updates to Google My Business in an effort to drive more businesses to optimize and create profiles.
Since its launch in 2014, Google My Business has been an important tool for merchants and consumers combined. In terms of a SEO perspective, having a verified GMB profile is crucial. GMB is seen to be evolving into a platform for mutual engagement between consumers and merchants. On Wednesday during a pre-announcement, Google noted momentous GMB data, stating 95 people globally participate in the local guides program and that the platform enables 3 billion direct connections between businesses and owners each month. The pre announcement also contained new promotional and branding tools such as the ability to add a new logo, cover photo, the introduction of the dynamic photo module to make photo and caption slide shows, welcome overs, and advanced promotional assets.
Google’s intention with these updates is to allow businesses brand and promote themselves more effectively on GMB. To promote marketing with GMB, Google will be awarding “Local Favorite” badges to the top 5% of local businesses within a certain category.
Facebook Launches Cryptocurrency Libra
On Tuesday, social media giant Facebook announced its plans for a new global cryptocurrency by the name of Libra that will allow users to make global payments over Messenger and other group platforms potentially as early as 2020.
The platform is designed like a true blockchain, with the only difference being the incapability for users to run nodes, only founders will have that ability. Users would purchase Libra and then keep their balance in Facebook’s digital wallet, Calibra. The currency in Calibra can either be transferred internationally, cashed out at local exchange points, or used to purchase items on a daily basis from participating retailers. Facebook cites financial inclusion to users without bank accounts, instantaneous transfer, lower fees and increased accessibility as the goal of the project. Libra is the brainchild of Facebook and a plethora of other powerhouse corporations such as Uber, Spotify, PayPal, Visa, Vodafone, and Mastercard (amongst others). Facebook says they have created a non-profit partnership to oversee the project, with many stakeholders. By the release of the cryptocurrency, Facebook expects to have gone from the existing 27 participating global organizations to over 100. The point of this extensive partnership is to decentralize governance of the currency.
Facebook is already getting some pushback from its Libra announcement, and will participate in a hearing on the Senate floor next month over the matter.