A prior post made the case in favor of hiring first time CEOs to lead small-scale SaaS businesses; and this piece picks up where that one left off. Specifically, it expands on characteristics to prioritize when screening CEO candidates, some questions to help assess them, and — most importantly — ways to support executives in deepening those attributes once they are in-seat as CEOs.

Per that earlier post, “We prioritize candidates with high levels of humility / coachability, EQ (emotional quotient), systems-thinking, and prioritization skills; and the odds of their success are greatly improved by supporting them in an intentional…


Last week I had the opportunity to speak with three different SaaS execs about their careers. Each had valuable experience within high-growth software businesses. Each brought deep management and functional experience, having led critical departments within their respective companies. Each presented themselves as personable, passionate, and articulate about their work. And yet, they were all grappling with how to take the desired next step of their career journeys — to land the CEO gig at a growing SaaS business.

These folks are not alone; countless aspiring leaders struggle to make this leap. This is unsurprising: although many executives harbor the…


Last week I had the opportunity to speak with three different SaaS execs about their careers. Each had valuable experience within high-growth software businesses. Each brought deep management and functional experience, having led critical departments within their respective companies. Each presented themselves as personable, passionate, and articulate about their work. And yet, they were all grappling with how to take the desired next step of their career journeys — to land the CEO gig at a growing SaaS business.

These folks are not alone; countless aspiring leaders struggle to make this leap. This is unsurprising: although many executives harbor the…


I recently wrote that business dashboards are instruments of control. That observation and the related post, while hopefully helpful, made some general assumptions in discussing dashboards. So, this post takes a crack at addressing an ongoing open point about the existential nature of dashboards: what exactly is their purpose?

Although Stephen Few provides an excellent definition, it leaves room to debate dashboards’ ultimate objective.

Definition: A dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.


I’ll admit that I love a good dashboard. As an aid to SaaS operators seeking to optimize business performance, dashboards can be invaluable.[1] Stephen Few defined a dashboard as, “a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.” This is a useful definition that makes clear: dashboards are instruments of control. Specifically, just as dashboards within vehicles aid in the controlled navigation of those machines, company dashboards help leaders drive organizations forward while controlling speed, direction, and business…


As he does in his blog with astonishing frequency, David Cummings last week put his finger on a pervasive problem in startups: complexity of messaging. To cap-off a characteristically well-constructed case for communicating with simplicity, the post concludes with this guidance to operators: “The next time you describe your product, competitive position in the market, or value add, reduce the complexity of the verbiage. Increase the understandability. Make it clear.” Such great advice; and I’ve been thinking about it all week. But, like many things in life, it is easy in theory // difficult in practice. …


In September of 2020, I attended SaaStr Annual and wrote about it here. It was my first fully virtual multi-day conference; and there was a real novelty factor to it. Seven months and several digital conferences later, I’ll admit to eagerly awaiting the return of in-person industry events. Still, I was pretty fired-up to take part in SaaStr Build this week; and it did not disappoint. The return on my time-invested was high, with a mix of valuable takeaways and follow-up research to do. My hope in this post is to succinctly share some of my personal highlights with anyone…


How to turbo-charge your valuation.

Valuations for publicly traded SaaS businesses are bananas right now. At the time of this post, Zoom’s enterprise value relative to its last twelve months of revenue (EV / LTM) was an eye-popping 58.41x. Veeva’s EV / LTM ratio was 37.02x; and “lowly” Salesforce’s was 10.03x. And it’s not just the stock market; valuations for privately owned SaaS businesses are also flying high. Against this backdrop, a colleague recently shared with me commentary from a similarly frothy time for software businesses. …


Tis the season…not for jolliness…but for annual forecasting. Countless companies spend the month of December frantically closing out the current year, while scrambling to codify goals for the fiscal year ahead. So, for many small-scale SaaS businesses, this is decidedly NOT the most wonderful time of the year. Rather, when it comes to financial planning and analysis, it can be a time of feast or famine. Famine in this case is represented by simply not doing any intentional planning. A surprising number of small software companies don’t share fiscal goals with their teams, or even set formalized financial plans whatsoever…


Note: This is a loosely defined “Part 2” to a prior post entitled: “Pulling Up from the Weeds of Cash Conservation.”

There is an old English adage: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. As explained in this HBR article and per the website PhraseMix, “This phrase is usually used to give advice to someone who’s using their money, power, or skill in a way that’s not very wise.” …

Todd Gibby

SaaS operator-turned-investor | Founder of Lock 8 Partners | Sharing observations, thoughts, and lessons learned from the ever-educational journey.

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