Brad Pitt walks into a bar, and out with a super-model. Don’t you want to know the cut of his suit?
MixPanel raises a $65MM inside-growth round at an $865MM valuation; awesome for them, their customers, and future customers - but with all the positive vibes around their pitch deck, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
— Mixpanel (@mixpanel)December 19, 2014
We’d like pay it forward to other startups who aren’t sure how to get started as they go out to raise money for the first time.
Raising cash is done on some combination of team, vision, plan, and metrics. This deck is the quintessential growth deck - light on story, heavy on metrics, metrics that indicate great success and continued success. How does a deck for a $65MM growth raise for a 5 year old “profitable from the start” kind of company in anyway help entrepreneurs “raise for the first time”?
But maybe we can understand the degree of success MixPanel must have to warrant such a great valuation?
When arguing about tech valuations, helpful that Mixpanel put its fundraising deck online. https://t.co/6dmy2KdrYL— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)December 18, 2014
Except this is precisely unhelpful for arguing MixPanel’s valuation because every juicy metric has been scrubbed out- at best this means the raise was a “look at our metrics #micdrop” sort of raise - which is an awesome kind of raise to be sure- but useless for evaluating the valuation or educating others.
But maybe we missed something:
4/Mixpanel generates cash internally to fully fund continued expansion of its current business. Rather, Suhail has more ambitious goals.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca)December 18, 2014
So the money isn’t for growth it’s for new products, and means the valuation is driven not just by metrics, but by plan & vision…. annnnnnd…. of which the deck is totally devoid (save two words: Sales & Finance). I’m 100% confident Suhail did a wonderful job explaining the broader opportunity - and likely had been doing so for his inside-investors in every board meeting leading up to this raise.
So there you have it, a calorie-free deck making the rounds that is neither instructive nor reflective of MixPanel’s (very real, deserved) value by way of plans or metrics. The real lesson? Be Brad Pitt - not wrong, but not helpful.
In the spirit of bettering us all (and not just ending my pet-rant), let me point folks to one fund raising story that is truly useful, and extend massive props to Sir Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz who shares his deck & raise in a wonderful way:
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish)December 18, 2014