Home Venture Capital Fast S-1 Teardown: Klaviyo – Matt Turck

Fast S-1 Teardown: Klaviyo – Matt Turck

Fast S-1 Teardown: Klaviyo – Matt Turck


Is that this it? Are we again? Everybody within the startup and enterprise world has been ready for months for the re-opening of the IPO window. After a document breaking 2021 (1035 IPOs, beating the earlier document of 480 in 2020), 2022 noticed a dramatic decline (181 IPOs) and 2023 up to now has not been significantly better.

Frequent knowledge available in the market over the previous few months has been that This autumn 2023 can be the time the IPO window would cautiously re-open for know-how corporations (current non-tech IPOs like restaurant chain Cava being thought of non-representative). And it might be essential that a number of the perfect corporations (the same old suspects being Stripe, Databricks and Instacart) would exit first, to pave the best way for an even bigger wave of high quality corporations proper behind them.

Nicely, this week has been an thrilling one – on Monday, ARM filed its F-1 (right here) and simply in the present day (Friday August 25), each Instacart (right here) and Klaviyo (right here) filed their S-1s. It’s going to be thrilling to see what occurs this Fall in IPO land.

New IPO filings additionally imply recent alternatives for the time-honored VC custom of S-1 breakdowns, although timing is unlucky given summer time trip schedule – right here and right here.

In line with my normal investing deal with information and ML/AI, I’m going to choose Klaviyo for this primary breakdown of 2023, because it’s a closely data-driven enterprise. As I did previously (see the S-1 fast teardowns for Snowflake, Palantir, Confluent, C3, nCino), that is meant as a QUICK breakdown – largely unedited notes and off-the-cuff ideas, in bullet level format.

Let’s dig in.


  • The enterprise: information and ML/AI on the core. Klaviyo is a advertising and marketing automation platform, used primarily for electronic mail advertising and marketing and SMS advertising and marketing.  It is usually, and maybe foremost, a knowledge infrastructure enterprise with sturdy predictive analytics/ML/AI capabilities:
    • Klaviyo truly didn’t begin as an electronic mail automation play, however as a substitute as an e-Commerce centered database to retailer disparate information sorts — occasions, paperwork and object information fashions.
    • Because it developed into advertising and marketing automation, the entire premise of Klaviyo has been to empower e-commerce manufacturers to personal their buyer information, and create data-driven, customized expertise by means of owned channels (electronic mail and SMS). That is in distinction to promoting by means of massive retailers or marketplaces that don’t give manufacturers entry to the underlying shopper information and continually change their algorithms.
    • Leveraging one’s buyer information in an omni-channel, advanced world will not be getting any simpler: “Companies in the present day wrestle to ship impactful shopper experiences as a result of they can’t successfully harness more and more advanced shopper information. […] As consumer monitoring guidelines change, third-party information has grow to be unreliable, sophisticated, and costly to make use of. In the meantime, the proliferation of first-party information has made it tough for companies to combination, synthesize, and use these disparate information units.
    • From the start of the S-1, Klaviyo clearly defines itself as being closely pushed by information, ML and AI: “Our trendy and intuitive SaaS platform combines our proprietary information and utility layers into one vertically-integrated resolution with superior machine studying and synthetic intelligence capabilities“.
      • The time period “synthetic intelligence” is simply talked about 17 occasions within the S-1, a modest quantity given we’re at (or barely previous) the highest of the Generative AI hype cycle
    • The Klaviyo platform has two core elements:
      • Knowledge layer: Klaviyo has constructed from the bottom up a highly-scalable platform optimized for big volumes of information, sub-second-level accessibility, and excessive ranges of personalization and attribution. It might course of information from over 300 native integrations and open APIs and synchronize unaggregated, historic profile information with real-time occasion information in a single system-of-record.
      • Utility layer: Klaviyo constructed an utility layer on high of their information layer, which permits clients to create and handle focused advertising and marketing campaigns and flows, observe buyer conduct, and analyze marketing campaign efficiency –  with out the necessity to rent in-house engineers, as Klaviyo has a powerful no-code element. The applying layer additionally affords built-in superior information science and predictive analytics capabilities to estimate shopper lifetime worth, predict a shopper’s subsequent order date, and calculate potential churn danger.
  • Winner doesn’t take all?
    • The final consensus is that any class in SaaS obeys a “winner take all”, energy legislation dynamic the place the market chief reaps all of the rewards, with maybe a #2 firm trailing behind, however everybody else struggling and finally disappearing
    • Nonetheless, curiously, the success of Klaviyo and its IPO appears to go in opposition to that consensus view. The ESP (electronic mail service supplier) market is extremely crowded, with an entire vary of huge gamers from MailChimp to Adobe to Salesforce, in addition to a bunch of newer startups (see this Gartner listing of electronic mail advertising and marketing corporations). Whereas the massive gamers don’t essentially break down the scale of their advertising and marketing automation companies of their public paperwork, we all know that not less than MailChimp was greater in revenues in 2021 (when it was acquired by Intuit) than Klaviyo is in the present day – about $1B for MailChimp then vs $585M for Klaviyo in the present day (not an ideal comparability, however directionally useful). But Klaviyo, whereas not being the 800 pound gorilla within the area, has nonetheless been performing impressively nicely (see metrics beneath). Perhaps it has to do with the significantly massive dimension of the ESP / advertising and marketing automation market; or the truth that Klaviyo has centered deeply on one particular vertical (retail/eCommerce, significantly Shopify retailers); or the truth that limitations to entry and aggressive benefit could or could not final and compound within the SaaS world as a lot as incumbents would hope. In any case, the very fact stays that the ESP/advertising and marketing automation market has produced a number of very massive gamers, versus a single hyper-dominant chief.
  • Shopify & Platform dependency: Klaviyo has been very a lot centered on the Shopify ecosystem of small to medium-sized manufacturers, and it’s been an attention-grabbing dance to look at:
    • Whereas it has constructed quite a lot of partnerships through the years (BigCommerce, Woo Commerce, Wix and so on), Klaviyo has *main* overlap with Shopify: 77.5% of its complete ARR in 2022 got here from clients who use the Shopify platform, so it’s majorly depending on how Shopify treats it.
      • “Shopify” is talked about 198 occasions within the S-1.
    • It clearly highlights Shopify as a danger issue within the S-1: “Our enterprise and success rely, partially, on our capacity to efficiently combine with third-party platforms, particularly with eCommerce platforms reminiscent of Shopify, and our enterprise can be harmed on account of any disruptions to those third-party platform integrations or {our relationships} with third-party platform suppliers
    • On the identical time, Shopify has a transparent curiosity within the continued success of Klaviyo:
      • Shopify has been positioning itself for nicely over a decade as a platform on high of which different companies may thrive, and Klaviyo is likely one of the crown jewels of that effort
      • Shopify can also be a serious investor in Klaviyo (see beneath), with a strategic partnership as well. The S-1 offers some particulars (p 108) in regards to the partnership settlement they entered in July 2022 – it entails a income sharing settlement, widespread inventory warrant settlement, and a inventory buy settlement.
  • Bootstrapping origins. Whereas it has raised some huge cash ($454.8M in main), and was most valued at $9.5B, Klaviyo will not be your typical Silicon Valley story.
    • Andrew Bialecki (who goes by “AB”) and Ed Hallen based Klaviyo in Boston in 2012 and bootstrapped the enterprise for 3 years as a worthwhile firm. Then for the following 3 years, they solely raised a complete of $8.5M ($1.5 in a seed in 2015 and $7M in a Collection A in 2017), in line with Crunchbase. Klaviyo did find yourself elevating large rounds of funding (beginning with a $150M Collection B in 2019), however the enterprise was already thriving by then, commanding increased valuations and resulting in decrease dilution for the founders.
    • In consequence, it largely bypassed the standard Silicon Valley ecosystem. Whereas it did elevate from Boston VC agency Confederate (which owns 5.7% of the corporate earlier than the IPO) in early rounds, most of its funding got here from personal fairness agency Summit Companions (which owns 22.9% of the Class B shares earlier than the IPO) and strategic investor Shopify (which owns 11.2% earlier than the IPO).
    • As a serious good thing about its bootstrapping origins, the biggest shareholder remains to be CEO Andrew Bialecki, who controls 38.1% of the Class B shares earlier than the IPO.


Klaviyo has spectacular metrics throughout.


  • Huge income quantity: Whole income was $585.1M, for the 12 months ended June 30, 2023
  • Spectacular progress (at this scale and given the harder surroundings): income grew at 56.5%, for the 12 months ended June 30, 2023
  • Gross margin: 75%
  • Not like most of its SaaS friends, Klaviyo is worthwhile: it had internet earnings of $15M on income of $321M for the primary six months of the yr, in contrast with a lack of $25M on income of $208M for a similar interval final yr.
    • Free Money Stream margin: 8%
    • Profitability appears to be a current factor (not less than since its bootstrapping years), nonetheless: on an annual foundation, it had a $9.5M GAPP internet loss for the 12 months ended June 30, 2023.
  • Money: $439.8M on the stability sheet as of June. That is significantly spectacular given $454.8M raised in main over the corporate’s historical past because it implies that, on a internet foundation, the corporate solely burned $15M of capital, pointing to very excessive enterprise effectivity.


  • Excessive internet retention, significantly given the variety of SMBs in its buyer base (see beneath): 119% NDR, as of June 30, 2023
    • Land-and-expand technique is essentially centered on product-led progress
    • Develop in three main methods.
      • As clients enhance their utilization, they transfer to increased subscription tiers.
      • Klaviyo cross-sells further communication channels, reminiscent of SMS to clients who began with electronic mail providing, in addition to add-ons, reminiscent of opinions and their CDP providing.
      • For bigger clients, Klaviyo sells its platform to their clients’ different manufacturers, enterprise items, and geographies.
  • 130,000 clients at an ACV of about 5k
  • 1,458 clients at greater than $50k ARR as of June 30, 2023, representing progress of 94% year-over-year. That is the results of a gross sales push upmarket in direction of bigger clients.
  • CAC payback interval of solely 14 months for the quarter ended June 30, 2023. 
  • 42% of income on S&M during the last 12 months
  • Glorious rule of 40 at 65%
  • World workforce of 1,500+ staff (not that prime a quantity given income, a part of the effectivity constructed into the enterprise – $390k of income per worker?)
  • Large quantities of buyer information: “As of June 30, 2023, we assembled over 6.9 billion shopper profiles throughout our buyer base, and within the twelve month interval ended June 30, 2023, we processed over 695 billion occasions, that are information on how customers have interaction throughout channels, reminiscent of opening an electronic mail, shopping a web site, or inserting an order.


  • High-quality firm with spectacular metrics
  • Profitability and general effectivity of the enterprise very a lot aligned with present market temper and expectations
  • Whereas (arguably) much less of a generational firm in comparison with a Stripe or Databricks (or Snowflake), it ought to have a really profitable IPO, assuming macro cooperates, and strongly contribute to re-opening the IPO window for others
    • Does elevate the bar fairly a bit for others probably following, given profitability and effectivity whereas rising strongly



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