The company that wanted to pay employees $10,000 to leave San Francisco is now a $35 million business

Zapier cofounders (resized for online)
Zapier cofounders Mike Knoop, Bryan Helmig, and Wade Foster.
Zapier

  • Zapier, a software-integration startup best known for offering to pay employees $10,000 to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, tells Business Insider that it's on a $35 million annualized run rate, a key measure of revenue.
  • Zapier was founded in 2011, and has been profitable since 2014 after only raising $1.3 million in venture capital.
  • Zapier also released its Software Trends Report, which reveals, among other things, that e-mail is still way more popular than team chat tools like Slack.

The startup Zapier made headlines last year when it announced a "de-location package" — an offer to pay employees $10,000 to leave the pricey San Francisco Bay Area and work remotely from literally anywhere else. Indeed, every Zapier employee works from their own homes all over the world, with no permanent office to be found.

But Zapier is noteworthy among startups for another reason, too: Zapier CEO Wade Foster exclusively tells Business Insider that the company is on a $35 million annualized run rate, a measure of how much revenue it expects to generate in a year. That's up from a $20 million ARR in May.

Zapier has been profitable since 2014, and hasn't raised any outside investment since a relatively meager $1.2 million in 2012, not long after it started as a side hustle among the founders. It now has 2 million users, up from 1 million in May. Zapier's headcount, too, has gone up from around 60 to around 125 over the same span.

Zapier's business is in connecting work apps to one another, automatically. For instance, to use a Zapier example, you could have every single e-mail attachment from Gmail copied into your Dropbox, and then alert you in Slack that you have a new file to review.

Example Zapier "Zap" integrations
Zapier

Foster says that the reason for the growth is kind of a pleasant chicken-and-egg situation. Zapier customers demand that any new apps they buy into be integrated with the service. This gives new apps an incentive to build Zapier integrations right out of the gate. This, in turn, makes a Zapier subscription a better buy for businesses.

"One of the first things they do to build their ecosystem is build a Zapier integration," says Foster.

'Software Trends Report'

And to go with the milestone, Zapier has released a "Software Trends Report" — an analysis of all the 1,000 business software tools that it's helped connect over the past six years.

Zapier's customers generally tend to be younger companies, so it's not a perfect proxy for popularity among the world's largest enterprises, Foster says. But Foster also says that it's a "bird's-eye view" of which apps, tools, and companies are on the upswing.

From the 2018 Zapier Software Trends report.
Zapier

A few takeaways, per Foster:

  • Team chat apps like Slack, last valued at $5 billion, are big. But e-mail is still bigger. "Over twice as many people use email apps with Zapier than team chat, and email is still growing faster than team chat," says the Zapier report.
  • To that end, e-mail marketing tools like Drip and Gumroad are seeing huge growth among Zapier customers: E-mail newsletters are still one of the best ways for marketers to find their customers. "It's like this sleeping giant," says Foster.
  • 40% of Zapier users are connecting multiple social networks together, suggesting that people are both using multiple social apps and looking for ways to manage their presence.
  • In a smaller sense, Foster says that Microsoft Office and Google's G Suite still dominate office productivity at large, and spreadsheets in particular. However, he notes that there's room for hyperspecific apps to thrive across the board: Airtable, a cult hit of a spreadsheet app, has steadily risen in the Zapier rankings underneath everyone's noses, says Foster.

On a final note, while Zapier has hired two employees in the San Francisco Bay Area since the delocation offer was made in early 2017, Foster tells us that neither has taken Zapier up on it.

"The people we've hired are mulling it over," says Foster.

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