Building great startup culture: How staying hungry is driving PitchBook forward
February 01, 2016
If you’re familiar with PitchBook’s history, you know the last time we raised capital was back in 2009, when we closed a $4.25 million Series A (listing Morningstar, a mix of angels and some very good friends among our investors). I'm now proud to announce that we’ve raised a $10 million Series B follow-on round from Morningstar.
Recently, I was asked, “Why $10 million?” Going through this process, we were offered larger investments and at a higher valuation. Ultimately, we went with Morningstar because it made sense for our company—we’ve enjoyed the relationship we’ve built with Kunal and his team, and we share many of the same values when it comes to providing information in this space, and building a great company culture.
This investment gives us enough capital to take advantage of opportunities while continuing our growth. It’s also small enough to ensure we don’t lose touch with our scrappy principles and core values. Simply put: it feeds us well enough, while keeping us hungry for what’s next.
This mindset, while a little unorthodox in the startup community, has been central to our success since day one.
PitchBook was born in the wake of the financial crisis, which affected many within our target market. In order to be successful, we had to maximize our potential. We did this by leaning on our values: putting our clients first, staying focused, embracing change and making it fun.
Today, while other startups flaunt their refrigerators stocked with LaCroix, in-house yoga instructors and unlimited vacation policies, at PitchBook it’s truly about maximizing the potential of our people, our product and our company.
Talk to any PitchBook Panther (that is, anyone who works here) and they’ll say this: “PitchBook is about the people.” It’s about enjoying your work and the people you work with; it’s about having interesting problems to solve, and opportunities to grow, learn and do really great things.
For our product, it’s about staying focused, and always looking for opportunities to do and be better—especially when it comes to our clients. And when it comes to making decisions, it’s a matter of being prudent and intentional about where and how we’re putting capital to work.
In the past year, there’s been a lot of conversation about burn rates. What’s an acceptable burn? How much runway should you have? These are questions best answered by people who aren’t me.
But, I will offer this: Over the years, I’ve met a lot of serial entrepreneurs. I’m always a little surprised how casual some are about their failures, particularly when they’re spending other people’s hard-earned money. To me, receiving a round of financing from any investor is a B.F.D. and not something to be taken lightly.
So, what’s to come?
Over the next 18 months you can expect some big things for PitchBook.
We’re investing more into our research—honing in on our existing datasets and incorporating additional information on private and public companies, investors and transactions into the PitchBook Platform.
We’ll also be making some significant changes to the platform’s user experience. We're seeing professionals in this space become more and more sophisticated in the ways they're utilizing and integrating data into their workflows. We’ll be adding new tools and integration capabilities so our customers can more easily find the data they need, and quickly turn it into actionable insight.
Finally, we’ll be turning our focus internally. In the next year we’ll be adding over 100 Panthers to our teams in Seattle, New York and London. With this, we’ll be looking to new ways to provide our employees with even more opportunities to learn and grow.
I believe one of the riskiest things that can happen at this point is that we become complacent—we have to stay hungry. We’ll do this by staying true to the values that got us here in the first place.
I’m truly proud of the work we’ve done so far, and excited about the road ahead. PitchBook will never cease to be a work in progress, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
As Founder and CEO of PitchBook Data Inc., John Gabbert brings more than 16 years of experience in developing data and workflow technologies for professionals doing business within the global M&A, PE and VC spaces.
Prior to founding PitchBook in 2007, he was the Managing Director of Private Markets for Dow Jones & Company and VP of Worldwide Research for VentureOne, VentureSource and The Private Equity Analyst. He has also played a key role in six acquisitions/mergers (three as the acquired target and three as part of the acquiring/merged organization) by both strategic and private equity investors.
John attended the University of Washington, where he received his degree in business with concentrations in finance and marketing.