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The pitch deck that helped us get an $865M valuation (mixpanel.com)
301 points by suhail on Dec 18, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 79 comments

Mixpanel helped Mixpanel get their $865M valuation. Mixpanel is solving a huge problem with a bunch of software, gobs of data, and smart people. Beyond that, they're pulling in revenue. Regardless of how good, or how brief your deck is at the end of the day your value comes down to your organization, your ability to execute, and your future revenue potential.

I'm not going to say their deck doesn't have value, but I will say it doesn't seem like it has much of one. Maybe that's the point.

Step 1) Be successful Step 2) Make enough money that don't you need to ask for money Step 3) Ask for more money anyways!

So yeah, I agree with you. There's nothing special about the pitch deck. The special sauce is the company, duh. They also got a lot of great free marketing out of this blog post. Their next post should be "open sourcing our blog post that helped us get tens of thousands free views". :)

True except 3) is "ask for more money to accelerate growth."

Would it be incorrect to say this was the only slide that mattered from their deck? http://i.imgur.com/4nKuGx1.png

EDIT: Oh, someone already pointed this out downthread a few minutes ago. Whoops.

That definitely is the most important slide. Funding is perhaps similar to college admissions in that the most in need are most likely to be rejected.

I think the KPI slides are very well done. Those look like the questions that VCs would be asking so it's nice to be pro-active.

I think that slide shows that in B2B software hockey stick growth is not necessary. Good solid growth is enough.

Love the CIA style redactions. Yes its clear kids, its all about pattern matching. The units and quantities don't really matter.

(NB: Part of me wants to add a tag: /sarcasm. But part of me sees the futility in the gesture, too. Don's flame proof suit.)

I still am not sure why to choose Mixpanel over their competitors though. I use Flurry and Google Analytics right now, and (as noted in their slides), they are free. What does Mixpanel bring that they don't?

If you say real time, then I'm not sure the 15 minutes it takes GA to add new data is really worth it. I have 20+ million data points a month but the percentage of my profits that Mixpanel would cost for that is crazy.

Also, Parse is now letting you track analytics real time completely for free in unlimited numbers.

I personally use Clicky Analytics which costs me like $12 a month. Gives me real time tracking, Twitter campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff in a no nonsense interface that is easy to use. Of course, I don't need detailed analytics nor need to action particular events like sales, etc (because I just track simple apps and blogs). Google Analytics falls into the same category as Clicky and other basic analytic platforms, they show you the views, but don't really let you dig deep and query it.

I've always seen Mixpanel as a mixture between an analytics tool and a data analytics platform. Seeing the number of visitors is one thing, but being able to action specific events and drill down in the data is where a product like Mixpanel really pulls away from the pack. I like how Mixpanel allows you to query your data like you are querying a MySQL database.

A perfect use-case for something like Mixpanel is online media. Say for example you are Youtube. You don't want to just know what videos the most popular or which videos make the most money, you want to know where the people are coming from and what is driving them to consume specific media. If 15% of your revenue is coming from say the top 5 Youtuber's, you want to know how those Youtube channels are getting their traffic, is it subscriber count or something else? You want to ask questions like, "Of the top five Youtube channels, how many of them received their views from Google Plus shares?"

Thanks for the explanation. It doesn't sound like something that would be worth it for my company, but I can at least appreciate the value to some other companies now.

Many reasons but the one the our customers value the most: retroactive funnels instead of forward looking funnels which drive people crazy in GA.

Also available in Flurry.

I don't know about Parse, but Flurry and GA track on an aggregate basis, not user basis. Mixpanel (or KISSMetrics) are good solutions to track data per user basis and a lot more in-depth tracking. Flurry tracks retention, but it is not very extensive. I don't think GA tracks retention. Mixpanel does a good job of looking at retention metrics and deep dive.

Mixpanel can certainly be a lot better in data visualization/reporting features and pricing.

The reason my company chose Mixpanel was their privacy policy. We are privacy-focused, so the idea that providers like Flurry or Google Analytics have access to our customer's data was not something we were comfortable with.


One of the best messages I got from the How To Start A Startup course was an off-hand line during the funding class: the best thing you can do for your funding chances is have a great product, and Mixpanel seem to nail this, great stuff. As an aside I imagine the headline was crafted to get the post attention, rather than as a reflection of how they feel.

Right there w/ you Xorlev; my thoughts: http://singularity.vc/post/105602600755/mixpanels-toothless-...

In summary "Be Brad Pitt" - great advice if you can figure out how to act on it ;-)

Totally agree. You don't need to pitch hard a good business. I still think the best pitch deck I have ever seen is Mint's: http://pt.slideshare.net/hnshah/mintcom-prelaunch-pitch-deck

FYI that's not Mint's actual pitch deck; it's a deck put together by Berkeley students (myself included) as part of a case competition. Aaron Patzer commented that our deck was prettier than the actual one, but the data was mostly consistent.

They also do an excellent job at customer service. I wish every SaaS made me feel like a valued customer.

To counterpoint, I just got through a presentation for a business line for a large consulting firm. Presentations like this are out of my scope of expertise, so I really appreciated seeing a successful, professionally done version.


What is the main font? What is the title font? What software was used?

This is a terrific deck (and thank you guys for open sourcing it, even in redacted form - an excellent compromise that's totally fair.)

Take note of a few things:

* They don't use BS "corporate speak" -- no synergies of optimizing user solution metric analysis.

* There's no fluff. Just, none. Problem. Solution. How We're Doing. Why We're Better. What We Want To Do. The Landscape.

And it worked. This should be the baseline for every pitch deck.

> They don't use BS "corporate speak"

I don't know: "penetrate organisations", "sales enablement", "widen our lead flow to lower cost per acq. long-term". I'm not sure I'd call that plain language.

You might say 'but I know what they all mean, they're not BS', but then a MBA might say that he knows what 'synergies of optimizing user solution metric analysis' and it's not BS to him.

One person's rational and precise technical language is another person's BS corporate speak.

Not saying it's not a good slideshow - sorry! I mean 'deck'!

Very fair point. Perhaps my example wasn't the best of "fluff" -- but my point is still that the language of this deck is still (relatively) plain and to the point, and that should be a common goal.

In general, I've found that people use Fluff Language generally out of insecurity. They either hope they're going to sound more sophisticated or hope to mask the relative lack of substance.

It happens a lot in pitch decks but it's even more prevalent in the non-business world (See: Almost every cop ever..."We pursued the perpetrator inasmuch as our pursuit could be ascertained until we had determined...")

That's not corporate speak - that's very precise language in different domains. For example, anyone in sales knows exactly what that means.

Yes that's exactly my point. To some people 'synergies of optimizing user solution metric analysis' sounds like BS, but I'm sure to the people who use it it's actually very precise language with a specific meaning. And to them 'penetrate organisations' probably sounds like corporate BS.

Perhaps, but there are definitely people who just stick in a string of verbized/adjectivized nouns in order to sound sophisticated or intelligent. In reality they just sound like they are full of hot air.

It's one of the many reasons people are so put off by salesmen.

Totally agree. A lot of technical people miss this. Sales people often (but not always) do this because they don't understand the product - they tend not to have a deep technical background. They compensate by picking up the language - most sales people spend a lot of time in conversations with other customers, product managers and technical people where a range of words are used. It lets them pick up the words, and get a shallow understanding of the concepts.

So most commonly you should just assume the sales guy is confused rather than being a tricky genius!

I wonder if their use of "BS" within the pitchdeck gives the impression of plain speak.

The slide that helped them get an $865M valuation: https://image.slidesharecdn.com/v1-classified-141218103325-c...

That slide looked very similar 2, 3, and 4 years ago. It was not enough, many people still passed on us. Raising any amount of capital (in part due to the risk at each stage) is more complex than showing a single graph.

Yes but executing at a high pace for 2, 3, or 4 more years dramatically changes one's opinion of the company and its opportunity to reach scale. If you've grown MRR from $10k to $100k, that still doesn't answer the "will it scale" question. If you've grown MRR from $500k to $5M, totally different story. Good work keeping up momentum!

pmarca: if you're reading this, feel free to chime in ;)

On this topic, Mixpanel at this stage is the magic blend of:

* Track record of consistently impressive revenue growth. * Impressive current level of revenue. * Comprehensive plan and organization in place to continue growing revenue. * Large and expanding market. * And bonus points, doing all that while simultaneously generating vs burning cash!

Yes, exactly so.

Between that slide and some easily-googleable numbers about their 2012 revenue, it's not too difficult to come up with a reasonable guess about the values on the Y-axis (assuming a linear scale)

Yes. All the rest is fluff. If you have strong traction you don't need a good presentation. I think that was one of Sam Altman's rules of startups that was on here recently.

Happy to answer questions if other founders have any on the topic of fundraising, pitch decks, etc.

Do you happen to have your original (repeatedly turned down) pitch deck? It'd be great to see the deck that set you guys going towards this point.

Thanks for sharing this deck!

I think the most striking thing to me and others in this thread is how austere and matter-of-fact this deck is. Obviously your growth and scale is great, so the numbers speak for themselves.

How has your deck changed from when you were series A, still unproven, and presumably needed the pitch to fill in the gaps in belief that the business hadn't yet filled in reality?

Not a whole lot. In 2012, the most important thing I realized while making a deck was to state your problem, solution, and vision at the beginning.

Your deck shouldn't tell the whole story. YOU should be telling the story. And your slides should function as bullet points to tell that story.

In 2012, the only addition to our deck was a clearer sense of how we'd use the money with a use of proceeds section. I think that's unnecessary though. I think a "what we plan to do in the next 12-18 months" is more specific.

Thanks Suhail. It is reassuring to hear from someone who has clearly had success pitching to VCs. I am big fan of the 10-20-30 Kawasaki rule for slides and yours is pretty close to that

Regardless of the "open source" nomenclature, this is actually pretty helpful. Not a lot of sizzle and flash in these slides, just hard numbers and facts. That can be harder for a younger company, where there is less data to pull from. But the matter-of-fact nature of the deck is key. You should have a vision, but you need to back it up with an actual execution plan and reasons for why that plan is achievable.

>Not a lot of sizzle and flash in these slides, just hard numbers and facts.

I agree. Seeing this deck provided some positive re-enforcement of my opinions of oft-fluffy VC-world. Mainly, that it can come down to "show me the numbers".

I'm reminded of an anecdote from the first season of The Apprentice. An early team task was to sell as much Donald Trump branded bottled water as possible. The team sat down and put together a presentation, complete with stories on the gathering location, filtering process, bottling procedures, and on and on. After the tale was spun, they headed to a nightclub to try for some sales. They sit down with the bar owner and get into their spiel. After about two minutes the proprietor cuts them off and says, "We're talking about bottled water here. Tell me the price and how much you can supply."

My point is that it's nice to see VCs say "show me that the numbers work, nothing more." That said, Mr. Horowitz, in the press release, was quick to point out that this was as much an investment in the founders as anything.

agreed Tim. A lot of it seems obvious, but it is so easy for young co's to get caught up in wordsmith'ing.

VCs want the clearest picture in the fewest amount of words.

Wordsmith'ing becomes a necessary evil for a lot of young co's when you don't have MixPanel-like numbers. If you don't have metrics, you have to have vision and pedigree and those are extremely hard to articulate.

I wish more companies released their pitch decks like this. Creating a great pitch deck is an artform in itself. Even in redacted form, I think it goes to show you don't need to use technical terms and corporate speak to raise money. Of course having a steady stream of growth also helps as well. Look at that growth graph, impressive.

Seems being concise, using facts and getting to the point quickly is the way to go. I've seen a lot of companies who go as far as creating pitch videos with fancy production, graphics, voiceovers and a soundtrack to try and use fancy visuals to get funding.

Congratulations on the recent funding round. You have a great product Mixpanel.

Wow awesome exactly what i was looking for , i will use it as guide to create my own pitch deck for my company Pingmergency . https://medium.com/@ravensley14/pingmergency-ycombinator-win...

Wouldn't it have been nice to hear what they actually said while they went through this deck with potential investors? Something like this would be a better share/embed IMO: http://presentio.us/view/p1tcHs

The only thing I would really read into in that pitch deck is their revenue and growth rate. VCs are not swayed by hip fonts and background colors (as much as we would all like to believe).

Interesting to see that Marc Beniof funded them. Salesforce has so much inside info on corporate America, I wonder if he's secretly running a hedge fund on the side that just trades on the info it can glean from its users on the state of the US economy.

And will at some time in the future, will MP be able to do the same thing?

Why do you hide your growth rate when you show your graph?

Assuming this is a genuine question, its done to not provide information to competitors. Hence when startups are asked about numbers they reply using % instead of absolute values.

The first number is shown, so you can extrapolate what are the others. I'm not talking about absolute values.

Mixpanel getting this money at this valuation has more to do with the market conditions than anything else.

Completely agree.. Using the word 'bullshit' in a deck and not seeing people flinch is pretty crazy.

This slide deck is very basic.

well I disagree...their deck could've been one or two slides with the numbers they are pulling. I almost feel like they knew the rest of the deck wouldn't be as important.

Let's take a look at their pricing plan


I wonder how much of their MRR X 12 months is multiplied by to reach $865M valuation.

    AVG MRR X 12 X ?? = $865,000,000
I can't fathom what the ?? will be, it would have to be significantly crazy. It isn't 1000.

Is it 100 ($8.6m ARR) ? Is it 50 ($17.2m ARR) ? Is it 25 ($34.4m ARR) ?

What is the average valuation multiple for SaaS? Is it higher or lower than other Startup models (consumer, yearly subscription)?

If one was to replicate a similar valuation with their SaaS what would it take?

Their average MRR per customer is four or five digits (see slide eight), and they have 2,814 paying customers according to their homepage, so their MRR is at least ~three million, which puts their ARR at at least 36 million. This implies a multiple of 25 at most. (I think 20 is a common multiple for SaaS companies at this stage.)

Do you remember groove? They had 14 as a multiple for their SaaS but it could've been at the time they had 70k MRR.

ARR at 36 million....and 25 the multiple...gotcha now I have a solid number to gun for.

You can't open source a pitch deck can you? Open sourcing is for source code, hence the name. This would go under a Creative Commons licence.

All: we took "open-source" out of the title. Let's stay on topic now.

I changed it on the blog too! :)

You could say "we're opening" or "we're opening up." Ambiguity removed, while keeping the original meaning.

Open sourcing was the topic, erroneously so. I corrected it.

Hey dang, are you friendly with the folks at Mixpanel? Is that why you're jumping in to defend them?

Just a humble field worker battling the dreaded title fever, which drives souls mad like mosquitoes in the old North West.

Beautiful way to avoid answering the question. Cheers.

It's a non-question. There's no defending them because they aren't being attacked in the first place.

Well at the very least, you'd expect "open source deck" to have the source file for the deck rather than processed image files. ;)

Yeah but "We're Creative Commons-ing our pitch deck" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

While their intent is good, choosing the term "Open Sourcing" is not very genuine here. The pitch deck is nothing stellar (it's a run-of-the-mill pitch deck that we've seen before), and showing the slides only really lends ideas to others (ie. you can't literally treat them like an open source project and just modify certain parts, you have to rebuild the entire thing from scratch, and of course YMMV).

A more appropriate title would of been "Take a look at the pitch deck we used while vying for an $865M valuation".

"Disrupting vocabulary"

Where do I submit a pull request?

Let's hope it was the company which got them the valuation, because no Powerpoint presentation is worth $865M

The title says 'helped'..

Unless they did a study with various presentations and found this version resulted in higher numbers, I doubt they have any clue how much it 'helped', or if it helped at all short of just being _something_ to toss up with their revenue/business numbers.

I understand that VCs value succinct, but not sure what the value of this is to anyone else. Other than to beat home the point that VCs like succinct.

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