Company update November 2016

It’s been too long!

I used to be pretty good at diligently posting our financial updates every quarter. But ever since we’ve moved to a monthly all-hands meeting cadence, I’ve really struggled to keep my posts coming. The new format is typically more focused and timely (which is why we moved to monthly) but meetings were often a bit too narrow to be share-worthy.

Until now. We’re reorganised internally, and put some more effort on reporting again, so here’s finally a nice new update that doesn’t require me to do a lot of editing.

Main revenue numbers

General company internals aside, the most beloved charts are these two.

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About these bar charts: It’s important to understand that Q2 and Q3 are typically our weakest quarters. Just because our Q1 was awesome doesn’t mean our numbers are now going down 🙂

Also, one of our goals is to have fewer tiny customers. Based on experience, we just see too much churn in companies of 10-30 people because there is simply not a dedicated HR person to manage SI. So we’ve enacted minimum pricing a year ago, and subsequently we lose existing small clients due to churn, but don’t backfill them. Hence the stagnation in customers, while the MRR goes up:

Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 09.24.17.png
But yes, our growth could definitely be better. We’re currently looking at a 20% annual growth for 2016, and that number is too low. We’re still wildly profitable and we’ll again be donating 2% of our annual revenues to good causes. No worries on that end. And since we don’t have investors, we’re not getting slammed for “too bad growth” and we’re certainly not doing anything silly just to get the numbers up.

But still, stuff needs to happen – and we’re at it. We have recently reorganised our “unified sales, customer success, marketing and support” team into three independent units: CS is now a real team, so is marketing, and we’ve grown the combined Sales & Support team so that there’s far more capacity for following up on leads. The teams are still tiny, and we especially want to hire 2 people into marketing asap.

Beyond that, several very interesting product improvements are in the pipeline, and the website is in for a major overhaul.  So overall, despite the so-so numbers the outlook is very positive.

The slides

And here’s the link to our all-hands presentation slides.

The slides are lightly edited, we removed customer names and we dropped two features that we’re working on. Other than that, it’s exactly as presented on Monday this week, giving you a fairly good overview of how we’re working internally.



Company Update Q4 2015

We completed 2015 with quite the end-of-year rally! While our mid-year results looked pretty dull, Q4 really met expectations and helped us close the year with a 70% revenue increase compared to 2014.


We made $2.9m USD in total revenues, and we had 670 active paying customers in December. The revenues dipped in the middle of the year but picked up towards the end. Our business is really quite seasonal, and sometimes major payments skew the quarterly results as well, so that would explain it.


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Our MRR keeps growing, while our customer number has stalled in December. We did increase our base price a bit earlier in the year, since we saw lots of small clients in the range <20 employees signing up and then churning. We’re seeing less new tiny signups, so we don’t think that a flattening of the customer growth rate is a big problem yet. It leads to higher per-account MRR, and that’s a good thing for now. But of course growing the customer number itself is also an important goal moving forward so we’re not taking that lightly.

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But in summary it was still an awesome year, and we ended up donating $60kUSD to charities. Read more about that over here!


The really good news however is that our dev team has become super-productive. As you might remember we hired five developers back in July. One did unfortunately decide to leave us, but the remaining four combined with the four who joineds us in late 2014/early 2015 are now extremely well-trained and we’re pumping out features at an astonishing pace. Our latest newsletter was impressive already : Slack, Key Results, Multipraise, Calendar integration and more. But it didn’t mention 3 major features in the pipeline that are in beta stage now and which will ship in the next few weeks already!

Our roadmap for Q1/Q2 is huge and thanks to our new throughput we’ll be sending newsletters a lot more frequently now.


Marketing & Customer success

We almost thought we’d never find anyone, but please welcome Elle, who is now joining Linda to really boost our marketing efforts! Also, our CS team grew by two people in Q3/Q4 and we’ve added much needed capabilites to deal with all our new customers!

Take a look at the (public version of the) slides from our recent all-hands meeting for even deeper insight into what SI is up to these days!




Company Update Q2 2015: Revenue dip, great NPS results, and the road ahead

We held our quarterly company update on Thursday, and here’s the high level overview.

We hired 6 full-time people into the Berlin office in the past quarter, and we’re looking to hire 5 more people globally in the next couple of months. We’re growing substantially, all fueled by our own revenues. Our new office is filling quickly and that’s amazing.

Finance. On track, but..

We’re on track for our goal of $3m revenue in 2015 and our pipeline is full, but due to our seasonal business and our terrific Q1 results, there’s a quite visible dip on our revenue chart. We always see more interest in the winter months than in summer, and we made 60% more than last year’s Q2. But still, we’re a bit sad the drop was this strong:


Fortunately, our Monthly Recurring Revenue chart shows that the situation isn’t all that bad:


Our MRR growth has stalled in June, but this has happened before, so we’re not worried. July has started out really promising, we made $130k in the first two weeks already. We have outstanding invoices of $155k, which means the pipeline is full. Our goal remains to make $3m in revenue this year, and we think we can still make it.

Net promoter score

We conducted a proper Net Promoter Score session in the past couple of months. We sent close to 900 emails to our HR and Admins at all our customers, and we achieved a 32% response rate. Our total NPS score is 30, which is pretty good. However, the NPS distribution is a bit uneven. If we take the two most extreme segments, we see a score of 40 with longer term clients with over 100 employees, but -9 with clients of less than 50 employees who have been with us less than 6 months. So there’s lots of room for improvements!


Goals for Q3 and Q4

We need to improve the product faster. Our largest projects – the objectives overhaul – has been in the making for 7 months now. It’s going to be really awesome and will help us get new clients, but the project need to get wrapped up. Working on that. The new 5 developers are already shipping some features, and by the end of the year we should have significantly higher throughput of features and improvements. The main challenge is know when to stop, and to avoid gold-plating.

We need to reduce our churn. Retention of larger customers is around 92% annually, but we see 50% annual churn on customers of 30 employees and less. This is totally in line with the NPS mentioned above. We’re simply not the right tool for some of the smaller clients, and we need to get better at telling evaluators upfront if we’re not the right tool for them. We’re increasing our minimum spend to $150 per month, making it clearer that a small client shouldn’t choose us just because of our affordable pricing.

We need to get better at onboarding new clients, ensuring they are happy, that they get the most out of SI, and that we keep them on board. We’ve started a “Concierge”-experiment, calling all evaluators that seem to be a good fit, offering help and establishing a relationship early on, so they know we’re around to help in case they run into issues. The next step is to call new clients a month in into their purchase and offer help proactively. We have a few more ideas but it’s too early to tell.

Lots of work ahead, and Q3 won’t be a walk in the part. But what would life be without challenges!

Full presentation

Here are all the slides from the presentation in one piece:

Company Update Q1 2015: New office, 500 customers, $800k revenue

Time flies, and it’s spring already!

We’ve completed an outstanding Q1, we’ve moved office, and we’re celebrating our office warming party Thursday next week! But let’s see in slightly more detail. Here’s the summary from our recent all-hands meeting.


Our revenues have gone through the roof in Q1, we collected almost $800k in those three months. We now have over 500 customers, and our MRR is approaching $200k.



The outlook is very positive, we already collected $100k in the first two weeks of April, but we do expect to see lower revenues in Q2 since many companies prepay for the year and customer activity is typically lower in summer. No worries though, the overall trend is upwards.


We’ve shipped several improved features in Q1 (objectives overview, messages rewrite, guidance hints) and some large  improvements are close to launch. Our growing dev team has definitely picked up steam!


Support & Customer Success

Our support load had gone up considerably in Q1 due to lots of new customers, but the response time hasn’t suffered, typically we resolve support tickets within 24 hours. Lots of product improvements have been implemented to address commonly asked questions and challenges clients run into


We’ve managed to sign 3 contracts and the fourth offer has been verbally accepted, so by July our Berlin team should consist of 16 people, bringing our company total to 20. Our new office is very spacious though, so probably it will take till autumn until we really make use of all rooms!

Even more detail

These are the slides from our recent All-lhands meeting, containing a lot more detail about features shipped and projects worked on.

Company Update Q4/2014 and 2015 outlook

Another amazing quarter has ended, and so has a very successful 2014. We hosted our distributed company-all hands meeting to revisit the past quarter and to also discuss upcoming challenges and roadmap considerations, so here’s a summary of where SI is heading


Q4 saw an extreme boost in revenues, which is partly due to seasonal effects (most customers tend to feel the pain the most during annual reviews) but it’s much stronger than last year (and January is going just as strong as December).


What’s odd is that our MRR didn’t rise as quickly, there was in fact a certain slowdown. It turns out that a few of our larger customers have moved from annual to monthly billing and that some invoices didn’t get paid in time, and this shows on the MRR chart instantly. Nothing to be worried about really, and the peek into future MRR looks pretty normal again, but it’s something to watch nonetheless.


all-hands_january_2015Team & Recruiting

Our team grew by 2 full-stack developers and one AngularJS developer in November, and we signed a contract with another Angular-developer with a starting-date of January 15, so we’ve increased our dev capacity by over 60%. Obviously there’s a ramp-up time until everyone is as productive as the old hands, but we’re seeing more features and bugfixes per week already.

Thanks to this growth we’ve now been able to split the team into “fluid subteams”: One focusing on objectives, one revamping the user import, and one swat team that takes care of all the small bugfixes and improvements plus a few mid-sized items. We’ll call the teams “fluid” because nobody gets locked in, we’re still sharing knowledge like crazy, and everyone will be able to switch teams after a few months or whenever a team’s task is completed.

Development and Product

We’ve launched several smaller but important admin changes and the rewritten objectives overview is now in beta (see release notes). But there are some other really exciting projects close to completion but which weren’t ready to launch yet. Here’s a preview since they are too pretty to be left out.

We’re working on a cycle roadmap feature (it’s highly interactive and the screenshot doesn’t do it justice):


And we’ll be overhauling our objectives entirely, adding improved view-, create- and edit-screens. Here’s a peek at the “radar view” prototype (far from final, nowhere close to shipping):


Full presentation

Here’s the entire deck with lots of additional insight into our roadmap and other company details:

Company Update Q3 2014

Q3 ended a while ago, but somehow November was crazy with sick leave, so here’s a belated summary of what we’ve done in Q3:


Our revenues continue to point upwards, and Q3 was our best quarter to date. Nice, but could be better. Well, taking into account Q2 was already pretty good we won’t complain. Especially thanks to our MRR:


Remember the ugly dent on the MRR from last time? We’re quite glad it was only a temporary glitch, maybe due to vacation time. Our MRR growth has bounced back and we’re looking at a neat linear growth (possibly a bit more than linear).

Development and Product

We’ve launched two new integrations: Yammer and Bonusly, and we re-launched our user directory in August too. We rolled out our new website style thanks our our super-intern Ingo, and there’s also a new handsome release-notes page, plus plenty of small improvements. Next up we’re working on the objectives overview and several other smaller projects.

Team & Recruiting

Going strong! We hired our straight-out-of-school intern Ingo one month into his internship, he really is that awesome. And the future looks bright too: In addition to Michael (whom we already mentioned in our Q2 update) we also managed to make Andi an offer, and he starts on November 1st as well. Two new full-time/full-stack starters means Q4 will see a huge uptake on features. We’re in talks with another frontend-developer for a starting date in January, fingers crossed.

Company update Q2 2014

The following things kept us busy in April to June 2014:


From a financial perspecitve, Q2 was a great success. We’ve collected revenue in the range of $400k, and our number of paying customers is now 350. So Q2 was 25% better than Q1, and 100% better than Q2 2013. Nice.


Our MRR however took a little dip though since we lost one large client who decided they wanted to move back to a (very very elaborate) paper based process. Losing $5k per month doesn’t show on the quarterly earning report above, but it is noticeable on the MRR chart since the human eye is trained to see changes in continuous lines. Well, that’s the main purpose of the MRR chart, it’s an early indicator of potential problems:


While losing a single client is not a huge problem, we don’t take it that easy either. A proper post-mortem was conducted, but ultimately we came to the conclusion that the process the client really wanted was so involved, we’ll not be in a position to serve them well even in 2 years.

But other than the growth of the MRR slowing down a bit, the MRR is of course still rising nicely, so we’re not worried, and we have just issued several huge invoices for July, so Q3 is off to a good start.

Customer Success & Marketing

We’re working on streamlining our support process, providing evaluator feedback back to the dev team so it can fix support causers. Despite being busy with an influx of sign-ups and support questions, we’ve created new tutorial videos for the performance review and 360 degree features, recorded a full webinar video and updated our slides to keep up with the constantly changing product. We’ve also extended our list of customer testimonials, attended a few conferences – both to learn our ourselves as well as present our software ‘to the masses’ – and held customer events like a Meet&Mingle in Sydney.

Major challenges in Q2 revolved around making our processes as a small team more efficient. To help prospects get started with Small Improvements a little smoother and limit initial support questions, we are exploring an introduction video, a quick start guide and topic specific case studies. Non live yet but this will change in Q3. Also a debate started on how to deal with phone calls. While we like to be available, we cannot always guarantee that someone picks up the phone 24/7. This, in combination with a buggy online phone system, caused disappointed prospects and resulted in a shift to a fairer and better manageable ‘request a call’ strategy. Another continuing challenge is to find a suitable CRM for our approach. The search and exploration of tools will continue.

Q3 starts with a panel discussion on the future of HR in Melbourne and will bear the fruit of our labour regarding new support material.

Development & Product

We were able to launch some really major screens which had been in the pipeline for a while: Our new performance review and 360 review overview screens are now  live and truly amazing:

We launched 2-Step verification as well, and Likert-Scales for 360 feedback are – despite still in beta – successfully being used by 10 clients already.

However, Q2 was also overshadowed by refactoring and internal improvements, which don’t make for amazing headlines. For instance, we’ve been rewriting our JIRA and Confluence integrations from scratch. From a technical perspective the rewrite is amazing, since it is more robust, easier to troubleshoot, and will enable us to create new integrations much faster. We’re eyeing Yammer- and Bonusly integrations next. But from the end user perspective not much has changed.

We worked a lot on our internal processes, switching from Jenkins to TeamCity, working on the security layer, making good progress on our new Angularised User Directory, but none of the work is ready for prime time unfortunately. Well, Q3 will see some really cool feature releases, so stay tuned!

Team & Recruiting

We have been able to sign one new full-time employee who will start in November, one freelancer is helping us 3 days a week at refactoring parts of our architecture, and two new amazing interns have started in early July. We lost one AngularJS developer who was poached by Atlassian (shame!) so recruiting remains a top priority. We got pretty close with two candidates, but one had a competing offer from Soundcloud, the other went to Txtr. Yes, recruiting in Berlin is tough, but on the plus side, we feel honored that we are now almost on the same level of attractiveness as some of the really well-known Berlin tech companies.

Although slightly outside Q2 already, we hosted a really nice GrillJS event on July 7, and we’re keen to meet all our international staff in the middle and end of July, which is when we’ll also host our Sommerfest.

Business Development

Yikes, we’re currently learning the hard way that setting up a legal entity in the US is no easy feat. After some disappointment with our initial choice of law firm, we’re now in touch a new set of people and we’re hoping to bring the project back on track in Q3. But we don’t expect we’ll be done before Q4, so starting to look for an office in SF will have to wait a bit.


We recently had an internal presentation about Small Improvements Q2 results, and we also discussed our current challenges and roadmap considerations. Here’s the slideshow from that meeting.