The success story of India’s first SaaS company to be listed in Nasdaq

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The success story of India’s first SaaS company to be listed in Nasdaq
Twitter/@nasdaq
  • Freshworks made its debut in the US-based Nasdaq on September 22 and it is the first Indian SaaS company to do so.
  • Freshworks was the first Indian SaaS company to achieve a billion dollar valuation, in 2019.
  • The company has now crossed a $10 billion valuation, thanks to its public listing.
The Indian software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry had already been growing exponentially since last year, but Freshworks’ public listing at Nasdaq has taken it all to another level. The company, which makes customer engagement software for businesses, was valued at a whopping $12.2 billion after it opened 21% above the initial offering price of $36 apiece.

Freshworks sold 28.5 million common shares, hitting an intraday high of $48.75 on September 22.

Freshworks was founded over a decade ago by Girish Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnasamy. Both the co-founders were former employees of Zoho Corp, which too is one of the biggest SaaS companies in India. Both Zoho Corp and Freshworks are rivals and the biggest players in this industry.

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Here is a glimpse of Freshworks’ journey so far:
YearDevelopment
Early 2010Girish Mathrubootham decided to start his entrepreneurial journey. Shan Krishnasamy too decided to join this venture as a co-founder.
October 2010Mathrubootham and Krishnasamy resigned from Zoho Corp.
December 2010Freshworks, then known as Freshdesk, incorporated in the USA due to lack of recurring payment solutions in India.
March 2011Created a team of six people — three developers, one UI/UX designer, one customer acquisition/support engineer and Mathrubootham himself as product manager and CEO.
December 2011Raised $1 million in a funding* round led by Accel.
August 2015Acquired co-browsing and live video chat provider 1CLICK.io. This was Freshdesk’s first acquisition.
August 2015The company crossed 50,000 customers.
June 2017Freshdesk rebranded to Freshworks.
June 2017The platform was used by 100,000 companies in 145 countries.
December 2018Freshworks turned unicorn, after raising $100 million at a valuation of more than a billion dollars.
November 2019Freshworks valued at $3.5 billion, after raising $150 million.
November 2019It crossed 150,000 customers.
March 2020Zoho Corp filed a lawsuit alleging that Freshworks stole confidential information and built a business out of it.
August 2021Freshworks filed for $100 million IPO in USA
September 2021Freshworks made its debut on Nasdaq and its valuation touched $12 billion.
*Freshworks has raised one funding round every year since 2011. There was a year-long break in 2017, when the SaaS firm did not raise any capital.

Freshworks and Zoho’s rivalry took a serious turn in 2020, when Zoho filed a lawsuit alleging that Freshworks stole confidential information and built a business out of it. Vembu-led company has also accused Freshworks of poaching its employees and customers. The battle is still ongoing.

According to a report by investment firm Chiratae Ventures and consulting firm Zinnov last month, the Indian SaaS segment has the potential to clock a total turnover of $75 billion by 2025. Companies like Zoho, Freshworks, and others are expected to be at the forefront of it.

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Freshworks was the first Indian SaaS company to achieve a billion dollar valuation, in 2019. A year later, the company closed another round at a valuation of $3.5 billion. It is backed by some of the prominent investors across the globe — Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, Accel, Steadview, CapitalG and more.

The company raised another billion dollars through its public issue. It’s valuation also increased over three times to $12.2 billion.

The SaaS giant has acquired 13 companies to date including AnswerI1Q, Flint, CanvasFlip, Natero, and Zarget, among others.

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"I feel like an Indian athlete who has won a gold medal at the Olympics. We are showing the world what a global product company from India can achieve,” Mathrubootham said, in an interaction with Moneycontrol. He further claimed that the Freshworks IPO has made 500 crorepatis in India, 70 of which are under 30.

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