It could be wise for startups to singularly focus—and in some cases refocus—on their core business if the current uncertainty continues to hang over the markets.
If founders need an example, maybe Palo Alto, California-based Docker could suffice. The company—which offers an open platform for developing and running distributed applications—closed a $105 million Series C led by new investor Bain Capital Ventures and values the company at $2.1 billion.
The new round brings Docker’s total funding to $163 million after the company went through a recapitalization in 2019 where it secured $35 million from Benchmark Capital and Insight Partners, and sold its enterprise business to Mirantis.
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At the time, the company said it had developed into two distinct businesses—its enterprise side and its developers side.
“Developers run deep in Docker’s heritage, therefore after completing the analysis, it was a natural decision to refocus Docker back on this critical community,” said then-CEO Rob Bearden.
That “refocus” back to its roots seems to have paid off.
In early February—two full fiscal years since the restructuring and recapitalization—the company announced annual recurring revenue is now more than $50 million, representing more than 4x year-over-year growth.
When companies—especially open-course companies—gain an initial foothold in the developers’ community, the natural inclination always is to move into the enterprise area and watch revenue increase exponentially (hopefully). But many find selling to enterprises is much different than selling to developers, and doing both can splinter the business in two.
Docker’s raise also is another example of the exploding popularity of open-source platforms, software and tools among investors. According to Crunchbase data, VC-backed startups in the open-source community raised nearly $2.8 billion last year—twice the total in 2020. Already this year, VC-backed open-source startups have secured nearly $1 billion.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.
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