DocuSign CEO: ‘we’re becoming a verb,’ company up 37% following public debut

DocuSign CEO Dan Springer was all smiles at the Nasdaq on Friday, following the company’s public debut.

And he had a lot to be happy about. After pricing the IPO at a better-than-expected $29, the company raised $629 million. Then DocuSign finished its first day of trading at $39.73, up 37% in its debut.

Springer, who took over DocuSign just last year, spoke with TechCrunch in a video interview about the direction of the company. “We’ve figured out a way to help businesses really transform the way they operate,” he said about document-signing business. The goal is to “make their life more simple.”

But when asked about the competitive landscape which includes Adobe Sign and HelloSign, Springer was confident that DocuSign is well-positioned to remain the market leader. “We’re becoming a verb,” he said. Springer believes that DocuSign has convinced large enterprises that it is the most secure platform.

Yet the IPO was a long-time coming. The company was formed in 2003 and raised over $500 million over the years from Sigma Partners, Ignition Partners, Frazier Technology Partners, Bain Capital Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, amongst others. It is not uncommon for a venture-backed company to take a decade to go public, but 15 years is atypical, for those that ever reach this coveted milestone.

Dell Technologies Capital president Scott Darling, who sits on the board of DocuSign, said that now was the time to go public because he believes the company “is well positioned to continue aggressively pursuing the $25 billion e-signature market and further revolutionizing how business agreements are handled in the digital age.”

Sales are growing, but it is not yet profitable. DocuSign brought in $518.5 million in revenue for its fiscal year ending in 2018. This is an increase from $381.5 million last year and $250.5 million the year before. Losses for this year were $52.3 million, reduced from $115.4 million last year and, $122.6 million for 2016.

Springer says DocuSign won’t be in the red for much longer. The company is “on that fantastic path to GAAP profitability.” He believes that international expansion is a big opportunity for growth.

France’s BlaBlaCar acquires carpool startup Less in ongoing ridesharing consolidation

The ongoing trend of consolidation in the world of ridesharing continues apace, with the latest development coming out of Europe. BlaBlaCar, the French carpooling platform, is acquiring Less, a young carpooling platform based in Paris and focusing only on urban rides, paying drivers on a per-kilometer rate to incentivize them.

The financial terms are not being disclosed but BlaBlaCar is picking up all of the company’s assets — it mentions skills and IP in app creation and distribution, big data analytics and in-car embedded systems — and employees (around 20 in all).

Less was less than mature. Co-founded by the founder of adtech firm Criteo, Jean-Baptiste Rudelle, it had launched a beta of its service only five months ago, in December 2017 (and it was founded about 18 months ago altogether).

Two salient facts of the ride-sharing industry are that it’s generally a very capital-intensive business — market leader Uber has raised $21 billion, for context — and it is built on economies of scale, and those two forces have been leading to a lot of movement, with the bigger fish snapping up the more promising of the smaller fish, and many more startups going belly up. Less threw in the towel so quickly, in part, because it didn’t see itself able to hit the right growth targets to survive.

“Less is conscious of the challenges of creating a scalable marketplace in the mobility space, and anticipating consolidation within the market, the team wanted to combine its forces with an established industry player”, said Rudelle, the CEO of Less, in a statement to TechCrunch.

BlaBlaCar has made seven other acquisitions in its own efforts to position itself as a Big Fish, including its closest competitor, Carpooling.

Less is not disclosing how many users it had, but BlaBlaCar itself now has around 60 million users in 22 countries.

BlaBlaCar has raised about $335 million in funding to date from investors that include Accel and Insight Venture Partners; and it was last valued at $1.6 billion when it raised $200 million back in 2015 (when it had only 20 million users). Less had raised $19 million from investors that included Index Ventures (who had also been one of Criteo’s early and consistent backers).

What the acquisition of Less will do potentially is help BlaBlaCar build out its short-distance urban mobility play. The bigger company got its start originally by focusing on long-distance rides, although last year it expanded into city rides with BlaBlaLines.

BlaBlaLines has been building out its service with riders paying drivers directly, in cash, while Less’s model is based on a per-kilometer fee — currently €0.10/km — in the city of Paris, the only place Less had launched. It’s reasonable to expect that one outcome of this deal will be BlaBlaLines taking on a similar pricing model.

“We are delighted to welcome an innovative and talented team that is just as passionate about carpooling as we are,” said Nicolas Brusson, co-founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar, in a statement. “Today’s acquisition takes place at a period of real innovation at BlaBlaCar, following the roll-out of BlaBlaLines across France, and the development of a new algorithm that increases the granularity of our long-distance service.”