The 2017 March SaaSness Tournament: Sweet 16 Preview
Previewing Thursday and Friday's Round 3 March SaaSness matchups.
On March 15th, we kicked off the 3rd annual March SaaSness Tournament. 64 SaaS companies entered our NCAA Tournament style bracket, where winners are decided by popular vote.
75,000 votes have been cast in Rounds 1 and 2. Our field has narrowed signifcantly. Only 16 companies have survived and advanced to the Sweet 16. Let's break down the matchups and see who has a shot at entering the Elite Eight.
2017 March SaaSness: Sweet 16
Here's the updated Tournament Bracket entering the #SaaS16.
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 Sweet 16 matchups.
Thursday (March 23) Matchups - Region 1
Seed: 9. Founded: 2011. HQ: Atlanta. Conference: Sales Acceleration.
Company Background: SalesLoft just finished hosting its 3rd annual Rainmaker Conference and recently raised another major round of funding. The ATL-based sales acceleration company brings that momentum plus 2 years of SaaSness experience to this year's tourney. Their 2nd Round "Battle for Atlanta" with MailChimp in the 2015 tournament was the single most thrilling matchup in the 2015 tourney. Last year, they suffered a tough Round 1 exit at the hands of Intercom.
Tourney Background: Their returned to form in Round 1, blowing past 2016 runner-up Influitive in one of the most anticipated matchups in this year's tournament. In one of the epic twists in tourney history, SalesLoft attempted to fall on the sword and vote for their clients Namely to beat them in Round 2. For 36 hours, they appeared to have succeeded - until a final recount declared them the winner by just 5 votes. Entering their second Sweet 16, SalesLoft prepares to meet Tableau.
Seed: 5. Founded: 2003. HQ: Seattle. Conference: Business Intelligence.
Company Background: A publicly-traded company for going on 4 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.
Tourney Background: Tableau's industry clout took them to the Sweet 16 in 2015 and 2016, where they were stopped each time by a fellow emeritus SaaS company, Dropbox and Salesforce. They made short work of APS Payrol in Round 1 and were never seriously challenged by Atlassian in Round 2. Up next: SalesLoft.
Seed: 3. Founded: 2003. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: eSignature.
Company Background: DocuSign had an amazing run in the 2015 tournament, falling just short of victory in a Finals loss to ClearSlide. In 2016, they made another epic run to the 2016 Sweet Sixteen, before falling to InsideSales in one of the most thrilling matchups in March SaaSness history.
Tourney Background: Can DocuSign repeat past successes and make the final step to the SaaSness mountaintop? They survived a late run from Vidyard in Round 1, surrending the lead in the 11 o'clock hour before making a last-ditch comeback of their own to seal the win. They staved off a 2nd comeback - this time from KiteDesk - in Round 2. Their next opponent? Loopio.
Seed: 15. Founded: 2014. HQ: Toronto, Ontario. Conference: Marketing.
Company Background: Another representative of Toronto, Loopio makes its March SaaSness debut on the strength of strong nomination numbers and a stellar ranking on G2 Crowd. The content management platform helps companies respond to RFPs, RFIs and Security Questionairres in timely fashion.
Tourney Background: In the 2017 tournament, Loopio responded to the epic challenge posed by their Round 1 matchup versus Slack. They hung close with the 2 seed into the final quarter of voting, then found a 5th gear to charge ahead and seal a spot in Round 2, where they utterly dismantled 2016 Final Four company, InsideSales. On Wednesday, they get another tourney veteran: DocuSign.
Thursday (March 23) Matchups - Region 2
Seed: 1. Founded: 2006. HQ: Boston. Conference: Marketing.
Company Background: 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 2017, might have the most legitimate argument in their corner. The reach of their influence, power of their brand and precedent-setting strategies with content marketing, sales-marketing alignment, candidate screening and science-driven business strategies will resonate long into the future. They are a SaaS tentpole, a Marketing Automation force and the returning March SaaSness competitor perhaps most likely to equal and exceed its deep runs from 2015 and 2016.
Tourney Background: Is 2017 the year Hubspot breaks through to the Final Four? Last year's darlings, Lever, had designs on a second consecutive shocking Round 1 upset. HubSpot thwarted that idea with a clutch 11th hour rally to grab the win. In Round 2, they pummeled ToutApp en route to a 3rd straight Sweet 16. Their biggest challenge awaits, in the white-hot reigning champs, Zoom.
Seed: 4. Founded: 2011. HQ: San Jose. Conference: Communications.
Company Background: Your reigning March SaaSness champions. A last-minute addition to the 2016 field, Zoom campaigned its way into the Field of 64 with 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. The sizzle and preliminary hype was backed up in spades, as Zoom launched an unforgettable run to March SaaSness history.
Tourney Background: Can Zoom repeat as champions in 2017? Their title defense began successfully with a Round 1 win over Workfront and an emphatic Round 2 takedown of Box. A super heavyweight bout is set for the Sweet 16, where they'll take on 1-seed Hubspot.
Seed: 3. Founded: 2008. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Presentations.
Company Background: Another March SaaSness newcomer with a peerless industry reputation, Prezi has been disrupting the way people make presentations for almost a full decade. Now offering a SaaS-modeled business presentation platform, Prezi is poised for a potentially deep run in the 2017 tournament.
Tourney Background: Because putting an end to boring slideshow presentations everywhere is a cause everyone canl rally around, don't be surprised to see Prezi to make some major noise in their introductory March SaaSness appearance. After capsizing a frantic LeanData comeback in Round 1, they throttled Cornerstone OnDemand in Round 2. Up next: Gainsight.
Seed: 10. Founded: 2011. HQ: Redwood City, CA. Conference: Support.
Company Background: 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). Last year, Gainsight had just pocketed a $50 million Series D round and rode its dizzying growth trajectory to a Round 1 upset over LogMeIn.
Tourney Background: Can Gainsight's own customers advocate them to a deeper run in this year's March SaaSness Tournament? Their support was enough to get past Pipedrive in Round 1. They toughed out a gritty victory over Front in Round 2 and are slated to face Prezi in the Sweet 16.
Friday (March 24th) Matchups - Region 3
Seed: 9. Founded: 2011. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Communications.
Company Background: After the 2015 tournament, the SaaS world began clamoring for Intercom to gain entry in our 2016 March SaaSness field. The only company that had dozens of non-employees vehemently go-to-bat for it and decry its omission as an actual snub, Intercom validated its entry into last year's tournament by swiftly knocking off SalesLoft before falling to DocuSign in Round 2.
Tourney Background: This year, the wildly popular communications platform returns with more momentum than ever. We'll see if it can capitalize on its recent successes and make a deep run into the 2017 tournament. Their Round 2 win over Buffer sets the stage for a Customer Success Showdown in their Sweet 16 matchup versus Zendesk.
Seed: 5. Founded: 2007. HQ: San Francisco. Conference: Support.
Company Background: Another SaaS IPO veteran, Zendesk began paving the way for streamlined, tech-enabled customer service 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 the 2015 tournament pushed Zendesk to the Sweet 16, where it lost a tough battle against DocuSign.
Tourney Background: A 2nd Round exit versus eventual champion Zoom ended Zendesk's 2016 run earlier than expected, but they'll once again be a tough out for any company in this year's tournament. Autpilot and Basecamp found out the hard way. The eyes of the Customer Success software world will be on their Sweet 16 matchup versus Intercom.
Seed: 11. Founded: 2008. HQ: Lindon, Utah. Conference: Human Resources.
Company Background: Another March SaaSness newcomer from the Silicon Slopes, BambooHR provides small and medium-sized businesses with subscription-based Human Resources Information Management Systems (HRIS or HRMS) that afford companies with 50 to 500 employees the functionality they need to fully manage their personnel at pricing built for the budgets.
Tourney Background: Strong pre-tourney nomination numbers plus a G2 Crowd User Satisfaction Score that stands higher-than-the-tourney-average make BambooHR an intriguing new addition to this year's tournament. They pulled away late in their Round 1 matchup versus Outreach and delivered one of Round 2's most inspired performances in a late comeback versus Talkdesk.
Seed: 2. Founded: 2007. HQ: Redwood City, CA. Conference: Productivity.
Company Background: A powerhouse in the organizational communication sphere. Evernote is a borderline essential tool in the minds of its users, allowing them to easily organize and share important information internally. 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 its 2015 run, followed by a Sweet 16 upset at the hands of Influitive in 2016.
Tourney Background: This year's path to the Sweet 16 hasn't been easy. After a Round 1 win over Birst, Evernote barely survived a Round 2 thriller versus InfusionSoft. They get BambooHR in the Sweet 16.
Friday (March 24th) Matchups - Region 4
Matchup #1. Datanyze versus DiscoverOrg.
Seed: 9. Founded: 2012. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: Sales Intelligence.
Company Background: The sales intelligence pioneers at Datanyze have spent the last few years achieving hyper-growth, building an industry-leading product and getting Mark Cuban and M.G. Siegler in their investment corners. Early exits in the 2015 and 2016 tournaments notwithstanding, they are a 2017 dark horse contender with high upside.
Tourney Background: Dozens of Datanyze nominations poured in during this year's pre-tournament selection process. An intriguing Round 1 date with Velocify ended favorably and in decisive fashion. A thrilling 11th hour comeback over Dropbox sends them to the Sweet 16 - where they have a marquee matchup with sales intelligence competitors, DiscoverOrg.
Seed: 5. Founded: 2006. HQ: Vancouver. Conference: Sales Intelligence.
Company Background: DiscoverOrg is another March SaaSness newcomer with strong industry bona fides and the potential to make a splash in this year's bracket. The Vancouver-based sales and marketing intelligence leader is used by over 2,000 of the world’s fastest growing companies and has made Inc.'s 5000 fastest-growing companies list six times. Based on those data points, our intelligence sources indicate DiscoverOrg to be very capable of a deep run in this year's tournament.
Tourney Background: DiscoverOrg put on memorable performance versus Greenhouse and Constant Contact in Rounds 1 and Round 2. Up next: a Sweet 16 date with industry competitor, Datanyze.
Seed: 3. Founded: 2006. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: Marketing.
Company Background: Marketo's March SaaSness history began ignomiously - with a shocking Round 1 loss to Infer in 2015. Heading into last year's tournament, a Marketo executive approached Ambition Co-Founder Brian Trautschold at SaaStr to make sure that March SaaSness would be returning and that Marketo would have a shot at redemption. The answer to both questions - a resounding yes. Marketo advanced to the Sweet 16 in last year's tournament where it lost a hard-fought nailbiter versus Mailchimp.
Tourney Background: We expected to see another impressive showing in this year's tournament from the #1 Marketing Software Vendor on the INC. 500 list. We did not expect a serious gut check in fending off a last minute lead change and spirited rally from upset-minded Terminus. Marketo rebounded nicely with a strong showing versus MuleSoft in Round 2, setting the stage for an epic Sweet 16 matchup with upstart rival, Engagio.
Seed: 15. Founded: 2015. HQ: San Mateo, CA. Conference: Marketing.
Company Background: This year's tournament preview concludes appropriately enough with the youngest company in this year's tournemant (and first to be younger than March SaaSness itself), Engagio. The account based marketing platform built by former Marketo Co-Founder Jon Miller just raised a $22M Series B last August and has been steamrolling towards high-growth with software specifically built for enterprise-focused sales and marketing efforts.
Tourney Background: Strong early reviews and palpable industry hype make Engagio an interesting opponent in this year's tournament. They delivered the fireworks we expected in their explosive 11th hour comeback and resounding win over Mailchimp and a Round 2 TKO of Domo. Their Sweet 16 matchup versus Marketo promises to be one of the premiere matches in Tournament history.
The Sweet 16 of March SaaSness kicks off on Thursday, March 23rd at 12am EST for Day 1 matchups. Day 2 matchups kick off Friday, March 24th at 12am ET. Follow Qualtrics, G2 Crowd and Ambition on Twitter for live score updates, analysis and final results for each matchup.
Want more information? Visit Tourney Central at ambition.com/saasness/.
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