Tech Deciphered

Tech Deciphered

#15 – SaaS Primer – Part 1

August 27, 2020

In this episode, we start our Primer on SaaS - Software-as-a-Service - a trilogy on everything you need to know about SaaS. We will give an Overview of SaaS, as well as discuss the intrinsic Business Models. Please look out for our next episodes that will deep-dive into Sales, Pricing, Financing, Benchmarking/KIPs, Lessons Learnt and Predictions.


Introduction (01:24)
Section 1 - Overview (04:39)
Section 2 - Business Model (17:59)
Conclusion (45:19)


Please check below to download our SaaS Primer PDF deck, serving as reference for our episodes 15-16-17

Our co-hosts:

Bertrand Schmitt, Tech Entrepreneur, co-founder and Chairman at App Annie, @bschmitt
Nuno Goncalves Pedro, Investor, co-Founder and Managing Partner of Strive Capital, @ngpedro

Our show: Tech DECIPHERED brings you the Entrepreneur and Investor views on Big Tech, VC and Start-up news, opinion pieces and research. We decipher their meaning, and add inside knowledge and context. Being nerds, we also discuss the latest gadgets and pop culture news.

Download Tech Deciphered SaaS Primer PDF Deck

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Full transcription: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors

Intro (01:24)

Bertrand: Welcome to episode 15. In today's episode, we will talk about SaaS. 

What is SaaS?

What does SaaS mean? SaaS means Software-as-a-Service. This is, and we will talk more about that later on, but this has become over the past decade, one of the most successful way to distribute and monetize software. Why is that? We'll talk more    about that, but in a nutshell, SaaS is really a new philosophy and approach to software, that emerged around 20 years ago, as a way to deliver, a centrally-hosted application over the internet, as a service.

In the past, you had to have your own server. You have to install your server. You have to upgrade and maintain your server, and you have to install software on every user laptop or desktop. It was very complex to maintain, to manage, but also on the pricing side, in the past, you would pay a very big license fee for your server, for your desktop license, and you would keep paying, a smaller amount, a maintenance fee, every year, usually for technical improvement. But you will have to keep managing your software server and clients side, for years. And it will become very difficult and complex, and you would have to keep up with improvements in the software. And it was difficult to keep up.

What SaaS enabled, software-as-a-service, was, you don't have to manage the server side anymore. It was pioneered by companies like Salesforce, like Netsuite. So no more central IT costs to manage all of this, and the software would be distributed on the internet through your browser, so no need to install a specific software. And pricing was also changed as a result, no need for a big upfront license cost. You would pay every month, every quarter, every year. You could stop any time, or once a year, using the service, suddenly become much easier to consider trying a new service. It would become much easier to distribute that new service, and more important, much more alignment, between customers and supplier.

Why? Because suddenly, the customer can leave anytime. Or at least once a year in most cases. And what this means is that it pushed suppliers to make sure their software was of really good quality. And on top of it, usually, much more focused on satisfying end user and consumers, not just making sure they check boxes with central IT.

So it has been an evolution. It started 20 years ago. It started to ramp up with the last financial crisis in 2008, when companies decided it's time to give it a try.