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March SaaSness: Round 2 Preview

March 18, 2016 · Jeremy Boudinet · 22 Minute Read

Meet the 32 companies competing in Round 2 of the 2016 tourney.

On March 16th, we kicked off the 2nd annual March SaaSness Tournament. 64 SaaS companies entered our NCAA Tournament style bracket, where winners are decided by popular vote.

Only 32 companies survived and advanced to Round 2. Let's break down the matchups and see who has a shot at entering the SaaS 16.

March SaaSness 2016: Round 2 Preview

Here's a look at the updated 2016 Tournament Bracket heading into Round 2. 

Click image to enlarge.

March SaaSness 2016

Styles make fights, and we're about to bring you a brief introduction and breakdown of each competing company and how they stack up in their 2nd Round matchups.

Monday Round 2 Matchups

1) Dropbox vs. 8) Zuora

Dropbox: Founded by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, Dropbox is the premiere cloud file sharing company of 2016. Its Twitter following? In the millions. Its valuation? In the billions. Dropbox is a powerful figure in the SaaS world, and they have legions of followers to call upon in any given matchup in this tournament.​ In Round 1, they toppled a game 16 seed, Outreach, fairly easily. But Zuora, a hot billing juggernaut, will pose more of a challenge.

Founded: 2007. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Collaboration. 

Dropbox March SaaSness

Zuora: SaaS billing and payments juggernaut Zuora is one of roughly two dozen talented newcomers to this year's tournament. Hardly an underdog, though, Zuora boasts an impressive venture capital backing that includes almost $250 million dollars from the likes of Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Index Ventures. They overcame Datanyze in a rugged, close Round 1 matchup. Their reward? A date with top overall seed Dropbox in Round 2.

Founded: 2007. HQ: Foster City, CA. Conference: Payments. 

5) Twilio vs. 4) New Relic

Twilio: When you've got a client list that includes such prestigious and diverse names as Uber, Box, DocuSign, Nordstrom, Coca-Cola, Walmart and Home Depot, you know you're doing something right. And Twilio has spent the past 7 years integrating and streamlining various communication technologies to equip businesses to attack the digital marketplace head-on. Another new addition to this year's field, Twilio is one of several engineering-focused new entrants to the tournament. They were a nightmare for Yesware in Round 1, systematically dismantling a company that went to last year's SaaS 16. They face fellow engineer-favorite New Relic in a blockbuster Round 2 matchup.

Founded: 2008. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: IT Management. 

New Relic: When it comes to software integration, monitoring and management, New Relic is the undisputed heavyweight champion. Since IPO'ing in November 2014, New Relic has continued its dizzying rate of growth, ranking 61st in Deloitte's fastest-growing North American tech companies list as of November 2015. Another engineering-focused new entrant into this year's tournament, New Relic delivered a wire-to-wire victory versus Wrike and will see a familiar face, Twilio, in Round 2.

Founded: 2008. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: IT Management. 

6) Intercom vs. 3) DocuSign 

Intercom: After last year's field was announced, we heard from dozens of disappointed SaaS industry members, disgruntled that their company failed to receive a bid. Intercom, however, was the only company that had a number of non-employees vehemently go to bat for it and decry its omission as an actual snub. We rectified things in this year's tournament, giving the wildly popular Customer Success platform its fair entrance into the tournament. Intercom showed just how formidable they are as a tourney competitor by shutting down an inspired last-ditch comeback attempt from SalesLoft. They'll have their hands full again in Round 2, where an imposing matchup versus DocuSign awaits.

Founded: 2011. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Customer Success. 

DocuSign: DocuSign had an amazing run in the 2015 tournament, falling just short of victory in a Final Round loss to ClearSlide. En route to the finals, the eSignature juggernaut pull off perhaps the most impressive string of victories in the tournament - knocking off ZenDesk, Evernote and Box in quick succession. They showed clear potential for a repeat performance in 2016 with a blistering Round 1 victory over a motivated, but overmatched DemoChimp. Intercom will be tougher, but DocuSign seems like a wise bet to make the SaaS 16. 

Founded: 2003. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: eSignature. 

7) InsideSales.com vs. 2) Slack

InsideSales.com: One word: powerhouse. InsideSales is quickly becoming a monolith in the sales acceleration space, dipping its toes into phone systems (PowerDialer), predictive analytics, CRM automation, and even a sparse gamification feature. After being routed in the 1st Round of last year's tourney, ISDC bounced back to take out Segment. They advance to face perhaps this year's toughest opponent, Slack, in Round 2.   

Founded: 2004. HQ: Provo, UT. Conference: Sales Acceleration.

Slack: The single biggest upset in the 2015 Tournament saw Slack - unvarnished industry darling, paragon for every SaaS startup on the planet - unceremoniously dispatched in a 2nd Round upset by eventual champion - ClearSlide. Proof that anything can happen when it's March SaaSness, Slack exited the 2015 tourney as a cautionary tale. In Round 1 this year, they looked completely different, utterly eviscerating Looker and advancing to face ISDC in Round 2.

Founded: 2013. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Collaboration.

1) Evernote vs. 9) Okta

Evernote: Evernote is a powerhouse in the organizational communication sphere and an essential tool in the minds of its users, allowing them to easily organize and share important information internally. As respected as it gets in the SaaS industry, Evernote claims elite Venture Firms like Sequoia Capital as investors and has proven itself to be a part of the SaaS industry's very fabric. An Elite 8 loss to DocuSign ended Evernote's 2015 run, but the productivity market leader took care of business against Ambition and has an intriguing Round 2 matchup against Okta.

Founded: 2007. HQ: Redwood City, CA. Conference: Productivity.

Okta: Reviewing Okta's funding history is like going to a cocktail party and meeting that guy with an utterly absurd bluebood pedigree. Phillips-Exeter, Harvard B.A., Wharton MBA, etc. Your immediate reaction? Something akin to Jalen Rose's feelings about the Duke Blue Devils. But deep down, there's a begrudging respect, and even admiration. Congratulations Okta, you have the bona fides, the chops, the unique positioning as the only IT security company in this year's tournament. And you made us look stupid in our Tourney Preview by dominating 2015 champion ClearSlide without making a peep on social media. Suddently, Evernote looks very beatable in Round 2.

Founded: 2009. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: IT Management.

12) Influitive vs. 4) Box

Influitive: Another new entrant to this year's tournament, Influitive also doubles as the sole representative from America's neighbor to the north. Moreover, they bring an exceptionally unique platform to the table that allows companies to activate their customers and transform them into referrals, warm leads and word-of-mouth inbounds. And as any SaaS marketing director will tell you, 1,000 blog posts will never equal the value you can get from a 100 actively evangelical customer advocates. And Influitive is riding a fun wave into Round 2, following an exciting come-from-behind victory over Atlassian in Round 1. Do they have the chops to stay with Box? We'll find out Monday.

Founded: 2010. HQ: Toronto. Conference: Marketing Automation.

 

Box: A 2015 Final Four team, Box emerged from last year's "Region of Death" as the sole survivor before falling to fellow heavyweight DocuSign. It was an impressive run, and don't be surprised to see Box make a similarly lengthy stay in the 2016 tournament. This is a company that has IPO'ed while acquiring no less than 9 other companies. It's never a smart move to bet against Aaron Levie. Hopefully you didn't bet against Box in Round 1, as they sent Namely packing while barely breaking a sweat. A favorable Round 2 matchup versus Influitive bodes well.

Founded: 2005. HQ: Los Altos, CA. Conference: Collaboration.

11) Infer vs. 3) Tableau 

Infer: Infer spent the 1st 4 rounds of the 2015 March SaaSness tournament on a single mission: Giant killing. First, a triumph over Marketo. Next, upset wins over LogMeIn and ToutApp. And finally, a stunning victory over Dropbox, the tourney's #1 oversall seed. Make no mistake - Infer will be just as dangerous this year. Backed by SaaS heavyweights such as Redpoint Ventures and Andreesen Horowitz and famed as the top lead-scoring software in the country, Infer has given us the necessary data points to do some predictive analytics about their performance in this year's tournament. Our prediction? They'll be a handful. And they are. They're in Round 2 following a gutsy Round 1 comeback against Act-On. Their opponent? Business Intelligence juggernaut Tableau.

Founded: 2010. HQ: Palo Alto, CA. Conference: Sales Intelligence.

Tableau: A publicly-traded company for going on 3 years now, Tableau is synonymous with the term Business Intelligence and continues to command a rare level of industry respect in the SaaS universe. Lurking north of Silicon Valley in the wet, caffeinaited confines of Seattle, Tableau is the definition of enterprise - all business, all the time. Their industry clout took them to last year's Sweet 16, where they were unable to overcome fellow emeritus SaaS company, Dropbox. Will they break through to the Final Four this year? They're one step closer after a resounding Round 1 victory over Pipedrive. Next, they'll have to get past Infer, a company who did make the Final Four in 2015. 

Founded: 2003. HQ: Seattle. Conference: Business Intelligence.

10) Talkdesk vs. 2) Salesforce

Talkdesk: The Storm Ventures-backed Customer Success platform of the future is making its 1st foray into March SaaSness. Like Zoom, Talkdesk's addition to the field came after a strong Pre-Selection Sunday campaign for inclusion. The Selection Committee liked Talkdesk's unorthodox value adds and unique positioning within the SaaS market. There are lots of unknowns about Talkdesk, but our analysts are forecasting that there's potential Dark Horse candidate in this 11th hour tourney invitee. They've held up their end of the bargain so far, making a late comeback in a thrilling Round 1 victory over BlueJeans. A much greater challenge awaits them in Round 2, as they face off against the legendary Salesforce.

Founded: 2011. HQ: San Franciscio. Conference: Customer Success. 

Salesforce: We don't have to introduce you to Salesforce. They're like the Duke, Indiana, or Kentucky of SaaS -- you may have zero interest in the industry, but by God, you know who they are and their reputation precedes them. And yet, Salesforce bowed out in embarrassing fashion in last year's tourney, falling to 8th seed Optimizely in the 2nd Round. All the influence and brand awareness in the world goes out the window once voting goes live for a March SaaSness matchup. As the old saying goes, if the game was decided on paper, there'd be no reason to play. But Salesforce did play, and played well, in Round 1 of this year's tournament, ending any upset designs held by Front early in their Round 1 matchup. They face Talkdesk in Round 2, with a slot in the SaaS 16 at stake.

Founded: 1999. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: CRM.

Tuesday Round 2 Matchups

16) Lever vs. 9) Qualtrics

Lever: Newly minted with $16 million in venture capital money, Lever is cutting edge software to solve an emerging pain point in the increasingly mercenary millennial workforce, where the stakes in the War for Talent have grown higher than ever. Thoroughly modern in its origin, design and application, Lever embarked on the biggest stunner in tourney history, upsetting 1 seed Netsuite in an unforgettable Round 1 thriller. It doesn't get any easier for the 2016 Cinderellas, though. They meet tourney cohosts Qualtrics in Round 2.

Founded: 2012. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Recruiting.

Qualtrics: Valued at well over a billion dollars and a keystone member of the “Silicon Slopes” elite, Qualtrics is home to the world's leading enterprise insight and survey platform. Qualtrics is currently being used by over 8,500 companies and 99 of the top 100 business schools. In February 2016, they launched the Qualtrics Insight Platform bringing customer experience, employee engagement and market research insights into one platform. They’re a perfect choice as both a competitor and a co-sponsor for the 2016 March SaaSness tournament. Qualtrics survived a difficult opening Round 1 matchup versus Mixpanel to arrive in Round 2, where they meet Cinderella squad Lever.

Founded: 2002. HQ: Provo, UT. Conference: Market, Customer, and Employee Insight.

5) Zoom vs. 4) Zendesk

Zoom: A last-minute addition to this year's field, Zoom campaigned its way in and got the Selection Committee to take notice of a very exciting resume. At the forefront of video conferencing, Zoom seems poised to blaze a new trail in how companies communicate while making the world an even smaller place to do business (good news for companies like Ambition). Lots of sizzle, lots of preliminary hype -- we wondered if Zoom could back up the hype in their Round 1 matchup versus Algolia. The answer, it turns out, was yes, as Zoom delivered the biggest blowout of the tourney thus far. Zendesk awaits them in Round 2.

Founded: 2011. HQ: San Jose. Conference: Communications.

Zendesk: Another SaaS IPO veteran, Zendesk began paving the way for streamlined, more effective, tech-enabled customer service almost a decade ago. Long-term backers Goldman Sachs, Redpoint Ventures and Matrix Partners have helped propel the company to the absolute zenith of the SaaS customer support space. A popular following in last year's tournament pushed Zendesk to the Sweet 16, where it lost a tough battle against DocuSign. They're a tough out for any company in this year's tournament. Just ask Base, who proved no match for them in Round 1. An interesting Round 2 matchup with white-hot Zoom is next.

Founded: 2007. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Customer Success.

11) Gainsight vs. 3) Basecamp

Gainsight: One of the most exciting new entrants to this year's tournament, Gainsight's 360° customer success platform is jaw dropping in its totality of application. The potential breadth and scope of its value-adds, which range from improving customer retention, to driving client advocacy to increasing upsells is a siren song to any company that values fast, easy revenue (i.e. all of them). Beyond the product itself, Gainsight also just pocketed a $50 million Series D round and seems positioned for a dizzying growth trajectory. Are Gainsight's own customers happy enough to advocate for them in March SaaSness? They had just enough support - 41 votes, exactly - to get past LogMeIn in Round 1. Basecamp is next in Round 2.

Founded: 2011. HQ: Redwood City, CA. Conference: Customer Success.

 

Basecamp: An interesting new addition to this year's tournament, Basecamp is a favorite software among many companies thanks to its user-friendly interface, customizable collaboration settings and a tendency to make project management less of a pain than it usually is. Incredibly, Basecamp also doubles as the lone March SaaSness representative from America's 3rd largest city, and, even more incredibly, the only 2016 March SaaSness company that operates primarily out of the Midwest. Basecamp looked tough in a convincing Round 1 victory over ToutApp. They get an upset-minded Gainsight in Round 2.

Founded: 1999. HQ: Chicago. Conference: Project Management.

7) Import.io vs. 2) KISSmetrics

Import.io: The Yankees may have won the Revolutionary War, but when it comes to scraping the web for pivotal information to help grow your company, the revolution has one clear victor, and it's the British industry leaders at Import.io. The godfather of B2B data-scraping tools, Import.io has found one of the most unique, powerful ways to access and harness big data to your company's advantage. The company enters the 2016 March SaaSnes Tournament leveraging a newly minted $13 million Series A round and ridiculous-sounding, yet provable value propositions like, "Get 10,000 leads in 10 minutes." They took down GoodData in Round 1 of last year's tourney before falling to HubSpot. They scraped by pesky Round 1 competitor KiteDesk on Thursday, setting up a formidable Round 2 draw versus KISSmetrics.

Founded: 2012. HQ: London. Conference: Big Data.

KISSmetrics: That sound you may have heard last March 20th, at 9pm EST, was the collective gasp from those following the 2015 Tournament's Round 1 results. The mighty, revered KISSmetrics had fallen to the youngest company in the entire tournament, PersistIQ. Of all the Round 1 upsets, it was by far the most stunning. And as fate would have it, this year's seeding has led to exactly one rematch from last year's tournament: a rubber match between KISSmetrics and PersistIQ. If Neil Patel couldn't mobilize his legions of followers last year, we definitely recommend making some key adjustments for this 2016 sequel. A non-dramatic Round 1 victory over PersistIQ indicates they have. Waiting in the wings for Round 2: Import.io.

Founded: 2008. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Big Data.

1) Hubspot  vs. 8) Zapier

Hubspot: There are a lot of companies in this tournament who can lay claim to being the biggest, baddest, most influential SaaS companies on the block. But HubSpot, as of March 2016, might have the most legitimate argument in their corner. Combined with the reach of their influence, brand power and precedent-setting strategies with content marketing, sales-marketing alignment, candidate screening and science-driven business strategies will resonate long into the future. Even the whiff of potential scandal and subsequent termination of two key company leaders during Summer 2015 didn't seem to shake them. They are a SaaS tentpole, a marketing automation force and the returning March SaaSness competitor perhaps most likely to equal and exceed its deep run from 2015. Their Elite Eight loss to ClearSlide came right as "Slider Mania" started to catch fire. We told you that, if we had to choose, we'd bet on HubSpot in 2016. A Round 1 clobbering of inspired, yet overmatched Everstring has us feeling good going into a Round 2 matchup with Zapier.

Founded: 2006. HQ: Boston. Conference: Marketing Automation.

Zapier: Before the 2015 Tourney, Ambition COO Brian Trautschold boldly predicted that Zapier would be the dark horse, crashing the Sweet 16 and beyond due to its rabidly loyal userbase and stellar industry reputation as a data integration powerhouse and workflow efficiency platform. To his credit, Brian's reasoning was almost perfectly on-point, with one minor issue: He forgot that Dropbox awaited Zapier in Round 2. In this year's tournament, following a Round 1 win over GoodData, Zapier faces a similarly imposing potential Round 2 opponent in HubSpot. We'll see if Brian's prediction comes true a year late.

Founded: 2011. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: IT Management.

5) Stripe vs. 4) Domo 

Stripe: Another household name in SaaS, you might remember Stripe as the SaaS company that earned a $3.5 billion valuation 4 years after it was founded. No small feat, unless you compare it to the company's most recent valuation in August 2016, which totaled a cool $5 billion dollars. Unfortunately for Stripe, though, all those big numbers mattered little to upset-minded Front in Round 2 of last year's tournament. Stripe's 2nd Round exit fell way short of pre-tournament projections. We're cautiously optimistic that 2016 will be a better showing for the payment juggernaut. Stripe has validated us so far, with a stellar Round 1 win over Gusto. Their Round 2 matchup versus Domo has the makings of an instant classic.

Founded: 2010. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Payments.

Domo: Carrying the Business Intelligence torch for Utah's growing SaaS empire is Domo. The 2015 Tournament saw Domo give arespectable run to the Sweet 16 - highlighted by a solid Round 2 victory over Eloqua. We hate to speculate, but given the timeline of the 2015 tournament and its obsessive coverage from leading venture capital press outlets, it's likely that Domo's Sweet 16 run was the key to securing the gargantuan $235 million Series D round they hauled in 2 months later. This year, Domo is back in Round 2. Despite ignoring our advice about a March SaaSness paid advertising strategy, they had little trouble with Base. They'll face a difficult test against Stripe for a spot in the SaaS 16. 

Founded: 2010. HQ: Provo, UT. Conference: Business Intelligence.

6) Workday vs. 3) Marketo

Workday: And now, we present the SaaS Kingpin of HR software. Workday joins this year's tournament as a recognized industry stalwart, true SaaS pioneer and a top 10 most recognizable name to the general public. Workday is a grizzled veteran of this year's tournament, with nothing left to prove, except whether it will be able to keep up with the flock of emerging competitors invading its space. Zenefits, Namely and Gusto all have their sights set on Workday's position atop the HR software mountain - this is Workday's opportunity to prove that they're still King. They've made the most of it so far, batting back an upset bid from InsightSquared. Up next is a 2nd Round match with Marketo.

Founded: 2005. HQ: Pleasanton, CA. Conference: HR Technology.

Marketo: The vast majority of people who followed the 2015 March SaaSness Tournament likely remember Infer's improbable run to the Final Four. They may have forgotten, however, how that run started - with a shocking Round 1 win over Marketo. And truth be told, it had escaped our minds, too. Until a Marketo employee came up to Brian Trautschold at SaaStr to a) ask whether March SaaSness would be returning this year, and, b) express his continued bewilderment that big, bad Marketo had actually lost to scrappy upstart Infer. If that's any indication, there might be a bit more of chip on Marketo's shoulder this year. That boded well in their Round 1 win over a scrappy Betterworks opponent. A Round 2 date with fellow stalwart Workday is set for Tuesday.

Founded: 2006. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: Marketing Automation.

10) Greenhouse vs. 2) Mailchimp 

Greenhouse: The second recruiting software to join this year's tournament - and direct competitor to fellow 1st time entrant - Lever - Greenhouse is the referred recruiting and onboarding platform for high-growth, millennial-driven companies. With a strong foothold in the SaaS industry (its client base includes tournament competitors like Zenefits, DocuSign and Twilio) and scorching hot organizations from all industry backgrounds (AirBnb, Pinterest, Vimeo and the Golden State Warriors) Greenhouse is one of the first entrants to the recruiting software space. It's also one of the most pervasive and best-funded. Greenhouse emerged victorious in a bruising Round 1 matchup versus Optimizely. They'll have 4 days to recover before an east coast face-off against Mailchimp. 

Founded: 2012. HQ: New York City. Conference: Recruiting.

Mailchimp: MailChimp is the SaaS elder statesman that continues to carry itself like a hot, young upstart. The Atlanta-based marketing and email automation company has always been ahead of the curve, pioneering the type of cozy, friendly user experience that Slack would go on to perfect. They give away their (great) product to users whose email lists don't exceed 2,000. Their reputation as a great place to work is known industry-wide. Plus, they had the foresight to sponsor Serial. MailChimp may have lost last year's Battle for Atlanta, but as they demonstrated in their Round 1 pummelling of a motivated-but-undermanned Cirrus Insight squad, they're a dangerous competitor in this tournament. Up next is Greenhouse.

Founded: 2001. HQ: Atlanta. Conference: Marketing Automation.

What’s Next?

The 2016 March SaaSness Tournament 2nd Round kicks off on Monday at 12am EST. Follow Qualtrics and Ambition on Twitter for live score updates, analysis and final results for each matchup.

For more information, visit Tourney Central at ambition.com/saasness/.

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