As a product manager, it is helpful to understand the relative size and success of your competitors.  Public software companies are required to report their detailed finances on a quarterly and annual basis to the SEC.  You can access any U.S. public company’s financial filings here.  To simplify matters, many companies use XBRL to file their financial reports.  For example, here is a link to Microsoft’s recent annual report where you can download their XRBL financial statements as an Excel file.  Some tech companies who have debt that is publicly traded also have to report their results.  There are only about 700 companies of all types that have to report like this.  Here’s a link to Infor’s latest annual report.  Infor is one of the largest ERP providers in the world.

When it comes to private technology companies it is a little harder to determine annual revenues.  There are fee-based subscription services like Pitchbook, Hoovers from D&B, and Privco.  While these services are great, they are a bit pricey for the typical product manager.

There are a number of free resources that offer revenue information for private tech companies.  The absolute accuracy of their data is hard to prove, but in my experience they are generally in the ballpark of what actual revenues are.  Two excellent free resources include Owler and Crunchbase.  Both offer limited free subscriptions.  In addition to revenue information, they provide a plethora of other competitive information.  Checkout Crunchbase’s profile of Infusionsoft – a marketing automation provider.  Here is Owler’s overview of Infusionsoft.  Through these services you can learn about VC fundraising history, website traffic analysis, ad keywords, headcount, acquisitions, and competitors.  I also use LinkedIn’s paid service, Sales Navigator, to learn about headcount by department, recent hires, promotions, etc.

If none of these approaches work for you, it is possible to estimate private company revenues using headcount proxy.  Companies that are in the same industry tend to have similar ratios of revenue/headcount and operating income/headcount.  You can examine the filings of public companies to readily determine a range of ratios.  In every 10-K Annual Report that is filed there is a section that lists the total number of employees.  Simply divide that into the reported revenue to get revenue/headcount.  Consider the following table:

To estimate the revenue for the company you are interested in, find the total employee count (LinkedIn, Owler, or Crunchbase) and apply the ratio from your example of their peers.  You can use the same ratios for private competitors reported by Owler or Crunchbase.  Consider this table for marketing automation providers:


There are a number of ways you can use open source free services to dissect your competitors.  We’ll cover more techniques in future posts.

By John Mecke

John is a 25 year veteran of the enterprise technology market. He has led six global product management organizations for three public companies and three private equity-backed firms. He played a key role in delivering a $115 million dividend for his private equity backers – a 2.8x return in less than three years. He has led five acquisitions for a total consideration of over $175 million. He has led eight divestitures for a total consideration of $24.5 million in cash. John regularly blogs about product management and mergers/acquisitions.

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