In recent years – and especially amidst the economic chaos caused by the coronavirus crisis – SaaS companies have been growing rapidly. In fact, a recent survey showed that as much as 73% of businesses said they expected at least 80% of their apps to be SaaS by the end of this year.
SaaS stands for Software as a Service, a business model changing the way organizations work. SaaS providers host a software application and make it accessible to clients on any internet-enabled device. They also provide IT support and network security. Today, an increasing number of business apps are built this way – from marketing tools such as HubSpot to SaaS call centers.
For businesses, using the services of a SaaS company rather than installing software locally brings a host of advantages – from scalability and mobility, to low-cost updates and easily accessible IT expertise.
Here is a look at ten of the most prominent SaaS companies in 2021.
1 – Salesforce
Based in San Francisco, California, Salesforce is the undisputed market leader among Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
These tools manage customer information, optimize personalization, and ultimately increase conversion rates. Today, CRM systems are a staple in any digital marketing arsenal. However, it was Salesforce that brought them into the mainstream over the past two decades.
With 150,000 customers worldwide, and a revenue of $17.1 billion in its 2020 fiscal year, Salesforce is among the SaaS giants.
2 – Zoom
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, no other SaaS company gained as much prominence as Zoom. The California-based provider of video conferencing services covered anything from sales meetings to Yoga lessons.
By mid-May of last year, Zoom’s market capitalization had soared to over $48 billion, making it worth more than seven of the world’s biggest airlines.
By the end of the year, Zoom’s market capitalization had soared to over $115 billion, gaining almost 520% over its 2019 value.
The story behind Zoom is inspirational. Its CEO, Eric Yuan, founded the company after he got tired of the ten-hour train rides it took to see his girlfriend – now wife – as a student in China.
3 – HubSpot
Among marketing platforms, HubSpot is one of the most prominent players. It made a name for itself in the 2010s as a champion of inbound marketing. Today, it offers a fully integrated marketing automation platform, including a CRM and a sales hub.
In its Boston headquarter and global offices, HubSpot employs close to 4,000 people. Its Q3 report for 2020 saw customer numbers soaring to over 95,000 in more than 120 countries, as businesses stepped up their digital marketing game amidst the pandemic. The trend shows no sign of stopping.
4 – Mailchimp
Founded in 2001, Mailchimp is among the most venerable – and biggest – email marketing platforms out there. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, this SaaS company offers integrated marketing automation services to create targeted email campaigns.
Mailchimp’s strong suits are its ease of use, flexibility, scalability. It also offers countless integrations for other SaaS tools – from HubSpot to Salesforce. At the beginning of 2020, Mailchimp had 12 million customers and a 60% market share in its industry.
Until the end of the year, that share grew to nearly 70%, and Mailchimp now powers email for over a million domains.
5 – Slack
During lockdowns, countless businesses had to abruptly transition to distributed workforce models. Few tools were as valuable in the process as team collaboration platforms such as Slack.
Slack offers its user a channel-based platform to exchange messages, share files, and organize their teams. It is easy to use, highly customizable, and scalable. Another plus point: The SaaS company’s offer integrates with an array of other tools for remote teams, from Google Workspace to Zoom.
Its headquarters in San Francisco will probably have to build an expansion soon. User numbers exploded in the first half of 2020.
Overall, Slack’s paying customers increased by 35% to over 140,000, making for a nearly 40% gain in revenues. With the continuing trend to remote work, it is well-positioned for the future.
6 – Nextiva
Nextiva is an Arizona-based provider of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business phone services. Led by CEO Tomas Gorny, the company grew from a tiny startup in 2008 to one of the biggest players on the VoIP market.
It has now reached more than $200 million in revenues, without ever accepting outside funding.
From its beginnings in cloud phone services, Nextiva has expanded into an integrated business communications platform, including a CRM system, automation features, and an analytics suite powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Early in 2020, Nextiva also released a team collaboration app, Cospace, to help clients struggling with the transition to telecommuting during the pandemic.
Throughout the year, the company held the title of best business phone service by U.S. News.
7 – Grammarly
Some business models are as simple as they are brilliant. Grammarly’s is one of them. The San Francisco SaaS unicorn is on a mission to combat spelling and grammar mistakes in anything you write.
A saving grace for overworked editors and jet-lagged businessmen too tired to puzzle out whether it’s “it’s” or “its”, Grammarly improves any text you type. It offers its own writing app, but also has plug-ins for Word, various browsers, and email clients.
Founded in 2008, the SaaS company now helps over 30 million users improve their writing – 10 million more than in 2019. Its latest coup was to secure over $90 million in funding for extending the capabilities of its natural language processing AI to further improve its services.
8 – Hootsuite
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Hootsuite is a social media management platform. It helps both businesses and individuals step up their social media game. With Hootsuite’s tools, they can manage multiple accounts across all platforms – from Twitter to Instagram – in a single dashboard.
Hootsuite also allows users to automate processes, schedule posts, keep on top of social media campaigns, and gain analytics insights into their success.
Considering that social media has become a crucial channel of customer communication – over 4.1 billion people use one or multiple platforms – Hootsuite’s success is not surprising. Most recently, the company boasted over 18 million users in 175 countries.
9 – Atlassian
Though the name Atlassian might not ring a bell for most people, the Australian SaaS company’s products certainly do. Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, Trello, OpsGenie – these are just some of them. The powerhouse from Down Under basically offers a full suite of tools for remote teams.
Atlassian’s strong service offer helped the company navigate the pandemic. In its latest quarterly report, it could boast a revenue of nearly $460 million – 26% higher than a year ago. Its customer base has expanded to over 180,000.
10 – Shopify
When it comes to eCommerce, no platform is more popular than Shopify. The Canadian company makes it possible for any eCommerce entrepreneur to grow their business, connect with customers, and sell their products.
Since its foundation in 2004, Shopify has been one of the driving forces of the eCommerce revolution of the past decade. In 2020, it nearly doubled its 2019 revenues to over $765 million. Today, the platform hosts over 1 million stores in 175 countries, with over 218 million shoppers using it in 2019.
** Update: Check our list of Best SaaS Companies in 2022