Top 25 SaaS businesses in 2021

SaaS Vendors

We are often asked to compile lists as to what we deem the leading movers and shakers within the forever growing and expanding platform economy. One such request that has a recurring theme is ranking global SaaS businesses.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a distribution model in which software vendors applications are hosted in the cloud and made available to end users over the internet, normally utilising some kind of membership-based model.

Its a wide remit for software businesses in 2021. Therefore, lets tighten it a bit, by making it so that the business must generate the majority of its revenue from these services.

Ranking these businesses by revenue, or perhaps by press mentions and brand awareness on social media is relatively easy. Ranking them by the less tangible measures such as overall strength and influence of a business is more difficult and requires a both a SWOT analysis of each business, a scoring algorithm and more. Very difficult and perhaps to opaque to easily achieve.

Therefore, in order to compile our editorial list of the top 25 SaaS businesses we have simply picked the businesses that we deem to be amongst the most influential SaaS operators out there right now, in April 2021.

Arranged alphabetically, please find our list below:

ADOBE

Dominant in the visual medium, the company famously fell out of favour with Apple when the tech titan was developing its app store, it has reinvented itself and moved away from Flash and Director as products. The company has moved to a SaaS model over the past decade, with the majority of its software portfolio now forming part of its Adobe Creative Cloud suite.

ATLASSIAN

With a $60 billion market cap, this 19 year old Sydney, Australia-based software company develops products for software developers and project managers. Products include the likes of Jira, Trello, and Confluence.

BOX

Founded back in 2005, California, US-based Box Inc is one of the better cloud content management, workflow and collaboration services for businesses.

CANVA

Recently valued at a staggering $19 billion, this Australia-based business is one of the fastest growing creativity platforms in the world.

Perhaps more interesting than the plaudits for its mega money valuation, are the recent acquisitions of businesses within the AI space, which have the potential to unlock new functionalities and improved workflow for users. Talking of which, it will be interesting to see if they eventually shift focus towards video as a medium. This is where the bigger budget paying customers likely are.

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As an aside, decent synergy between Canva and Melbourne-based Envato, who also utilise AI with their fantastic, but often frustratingly slow Place.it platform.

CISCO SYSTEMS

Founded back in 1984, Cisco Systems is an California, US-based technology conglomerate. Cisco develops, manufactures and sells networking hardware, software, telecoms equipment and other high-technology services and products.

The company has been amongst the leaders in the SaaS revolution and most of its software products are now available as SaaS.

DROPBOX

Founded in 2008, Dropbox is a (somewhat ubiquitous) file hosting platform business based out of Silicon Valley, US. The company offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud and client software.

GITHUB

Founded in 2008 and later acquired by Microsoft Corp, is a provider of Internet hosting for software development and version control using Git. Github offers the distributed version control and source code management tools of Git, plus its own features.

LINKEDIN

Recently acquired by Microsoft, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by a group of entrepreneurs and based out of California, US. At its core, the LinkedIn platform allows job seekers to build their resumes and employers to post jobs.

The network experiments with new content types such as short-video clips and e-learning tutorials. The site also benefits from highly active forums/user groups.

MICROSOFT

Microsoft Corporation is perhaps on of the top brands within the tech sector, with its OS and Office suite still de-facto industry standards. The Washington, US-based tech giant that develops, manufactures, licenses and sells computer software, hardware and related services.

Platform News: Software titan Microsoft building

After years of declining relevance, the company is undergoing a bit of a resurgence under the leadership of Satya Nadella, both in terms of product innovation; and its cloud-based software suite, which includes its Azure cloud hosting solutions, Office 365 and associated software.

NEW RELIC

The California, US-based software vendor develops cloud-based solutions  to help website and application owners track the performances of web services. The software is becoming (somewhat) ubiquitous in the marketplace. It should be noted that we also use New Relic to improve our scalability efforts.

NEXTIVA

Founded in 2006, Nextiva is an Arizona, US-based voice-over-internet-protocol company. The company focuses on the area of cloud-based communication Nextiva indicates its telephone and other technology services are currently used by more than 100,000 businesses.

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ORACLE

Founded back in 1977, this massive Texas-based software vendor develops database software, CRM solutions, supply chain management, cloud-engineering systems and much more, mostly for enterprise users.

Its cloud infrastructure products combine the elasticity and utility of public cloud with the granular control, security, and predictability of on-premises infrastructure.

PAYPAL

Founded in 1998 in Silicon Valley by a group of high profile entrepreneurs this notable platform business primarily operates an online payments platform that supports online money transfers and transactions.

SALESFORCE

Founded out of California back in 1999, Salesforce is synonymous with SaaS. The company is operates cloud-based customer relationship management service. It additionally provides a suite of enterprise applications focused on customer service, marketing workflow and automation, business analytics and application development.

SAP

Founded in 1972, this Germany-based software vendor develops enterprise-level software to manage business operations and customer relations. The company is known mostly for its best in class ERP software.

Platform Industry: SAP software logo

The company offers numerous PaaS products.

SHOPIFY

Founded back in 2004 by a web developer seeking to build an e-commerce store to sell snowboards, Shopify Inc is a significant Canadian e-commerce business. At its core, Shopify is a cloud-based, multi-channel platform enabling businesses of all sizes and industry verticals to sell both online and at physical locations using its POS software.

The business offers services including online and offline payments, flash sale functionality, marketing, shipping and advanced engagement tools. Additionally, the platform provides a back-office and a single view of the clients’ business.

Shopify reports that it currently has more than 1,000,000 businesses in approximately 175 countries using its e-commerce platform. The merchants using the platform generated gross sales of over US$61 billion in 2019.

SLACK

Launched back in 2013, Slack is a collaboration and communication platform developed by the US software company Slack Technologies. Slack offers a number of IRC-style features, including persistent chat rooms organized by topic, private groups and direct messaging.

SNOWFLAKE

Founded in 2012 and launched two years later, Snowflake is a California, US-based cloud computing-based data warehousing platform.

SQUARE

Founded by and led by Twitter Inc’s very own Jack Dorsey, Square operates within the financial services sector, primarily in POS payments. Its market cap and revenue numbers are actually far higher than the controversial social media platform.

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TABLEAU

Founded in 2003 and later acquired by Salesforce, Tableau is a US-based interactive data visualization software vendor focused on business intelligence. Notable tools and functionality makes Tableau one of the better visualisation tools for complex data.

VEEVA SYSTEMS

Founded in 2007, Veeva Systems is a US-based business that develops cloud-based software and related services that are used by businesses operating within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors to manage business critical functions such as data management, customer relationship management, training and support. Its share performance is exceptional. Very much a darling of investors during the age of COVID-19 and pandemic.

As an aside, you can register to download our free SWOT analysis on Veeva Systems by clicking here.

WIX

Founded in 2006, Wix.com is an Israel-based software vendor that provides cloud-based web development services. It allows businesses and individuals to create simple websites and mobile-friendly websites through the use of proprietary online drag and drop tools.

XERO

Wellington, New Zealand-based Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for (primarily) start-ups and medium-sized businesses. The platform is excellent and along with Quicken and MYOB fast becoming the standard for online accounting.

ZENDESK

Founded in Copenhagen, Denmark back in 2007, Zendesk Inc has grown to become a US-based customer service software company headquartered in Silicon Valley. The business is listed on the NYSE.

ZOOM

Founded back in 2011, Zoom is a California, US-based video communications technology platform. It provides videotelephony and online chat services through peer-to-peer software platform. Commonly used for teleconferencing, telecommuting and distance learning the platform increased in prominence during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where the platform won plaudits (and criticism for security issues) from the media.

Platform News: Zoom communications logo

From its well publicised security issues, through to ownership and the pandemic-era blitz-scaling Zoom Video Communications is one of the most requested businesses we cover here at Platform Executive. A great platform that has achieved a massive breakthrough over the past 12 months with the majority of employees being forced to work from home.

That rounds out this particular list. In case you are wondering, Amazon AWS was omitted as we categorise that product and in-turn that business separate from SaaS. It will be appearing in future lists.

We will return to this subject over the coming weeks and months to keep you informed as to our ‘vital’ platform lists.

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