Rapidly Growing Billion-Dollar Companies (2)
AppLovin, Zoom Video Communications, OakNorth, Calm, and Freshworks are five profitable companies that are less than 10 years old and that are valued at more than $1 billion. Please note that, while Freshworks' Indian arm turned a profit last year, the company as a whole is probably not yet profitable.
- AppLovin is a publishing platform for mobile games that creates innovative advertising technology. The company was founded in 2012, and it now has its own games studio, partners with other studios, and creates useful tools that help developers market their games.
- AppLovin was valued at $2 billion in a private equity funding round led by KKR & Co.
- AppLovin is one of the rare technology companies that was profitable by the end of its first month of existence.
- AppLovin's CEO Adam Foroughi explained that his company needed to turn a profit very early on in its existence because it couldn't raise money from venture capital investors.
- Even though AppLovin is a private company that doesn't publish financial reports, several articles cite it as a rare example of a profitable "unicorn."
- Zoom Video Communications is a provider of video-conferencing solutions.
- The company was founded in 2011, and it achieved a $1 billion valuation in early 2017. Zoom went public in April 2019, and it was valued at $9 billion in its first day of trading.
- Analysts attribute the impressive growth of Zoom to the market it operates in. Zoom is focused on serving employees that work remotely and use conferencing services to connect with coworkers. This is a fast-growing market because more and more employees are switching to remote work.
- Zoom became profitable in 2018, when it reported net income of $7.6 million on revenue of $331 million. The company reported a small loss in 2017.
- OakNorth is a British digital bank that lends to small and medium-sized businesses.
- The company was founded in 2015, but it grew at a rapid rate because it focuses on a historically underserved segment. It offers loans between $500,000 and $25 million at very competitive interest rates.
- Interestingly, it has a track record of zero defaulted loans thanks to its AI-powered credit analysis platform.
- OakNorth was valued at $2.8 billion after its latest funding round led by SoftBank.
- The digital bank reported after-tax profits of £26.58 million in 2018, and £9.47 million in 2017.
- Calm is a relaxation and meditation app for Android and iOS.
- The company was founded in 2012, and it was valued at $1 billion in a Series B funding round in February 2019.
- The growth of Calm is closely linked to the increased popularity of meditation in recent years. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the number of people who meditate regularly tripled from 2012 to 2017.
- Co-founder and co-CEO Michael Acton Smith said in a podcast interview that the Calm app has been "profitable for years".
- Even though the company is not public and does not publish financial reports, several media outlets cite it as a profitable company, including TechCrunch and VentureBeat.
- Freshworks provides a customer support platform that helps businesses to support customers through e-mail, phone, website, and social networks.
- Freshworks was valued at $1.5 billion in a Series G funding round completed in 2018.
- The Indian company has fueled its growth through acquisitions. Since 2010, when it was founded, the company acquired eight different startups. This opened up a lot of cross-selling opportunities for Freshworks.
- Freshworks became profitable in 2018. The company reported a profit of Rs 20.91 crore ($2.94 million) in 2018, while it reported slight losses in 2017.
- Girish Mathrubootham, the company's founder, said in a recent interview, "“I can be profitable if I want to. But if I am not growing enough it may be a lost opportunity when the competition grabs it.”"
Companies that have achieved a $1 billion valuation are colloquially called "unicorns". Several articles, including the one from Crunchbase, note that profitable unicorns are extremely rare. This is because the companies are usually focused on growth, and so they tend to invest any potential profit into marketing and research and development.
An additional difficulty is that most companies that were founded within the last 10 years are still private companies, which means they are not obligated to report their financial results.
Zoom and OakNorth were included because these were the only two "unicorn" companies (besides TransferWise) that have actually published financial results, which showed a profit. Zoom recently went through an IPO process, which forced it to disclose its financial performance. OakNorth is a British financial services company, which means it needs to comply with tighter UK reporting regulations.
While Calm and AppLovin did not publish financial reports, we have identified several articles that stated that the companies were profitable, in addition to the claims of the companies themselves. AppLovin is a unique case because it is a bootstrapped business, which means that the company needed to become profitable very early on to remain in operation.
While we have identified several articles that claim that Freshworks is profitable citing their financial reports filed with India's Registrar of Companies, we have also found a recent interview with Girish Mathrubootham, the company's founder and CEO in which he claims that Freshworks can become profitable whenever he wants it to. This led us to conclude that Freshworks as a whole is still not profitable and that the posted financial results only apply to the Indian arm of the company.