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Inside Freshworks’ IPO filing

Let's dig into the company's historical growth, track Freshworks' changing profitability profile and check to see if its revenue quality is improving over time.

Freshworks, a customer engagement software company with roots in both California in the United States and Tamil Nadu in India, is going public. Its S-1 filing paints the picture of a company scaling rapidly, with improving profitability as it matures. However, to understand the company’s numbers, we’ll have to peel away certain costs for a clear picture.

The Exchange spoke with Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham a few weeks ago about the future of his company, a conversation that in hindsight we timed rather well. We’ll lean on notes from the call as we parse Mathrubootham’s IPO filing.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

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Quite a lot of venture capital is riding on Freshworks’ IPO going well. The company raised hundreds of millions of dollars while private, per Crunchbase data, including a $150 million Series H round of capital in late 2019 that valued the company at around $3.5 billion. Its investor list includes Accel, Tiger, Sequoia and Capital G.

This morning, let’s dig into the company’s historical growth, track Freshworks’ changing profitability profile and check to see if its revenue quality is improving over time.

Quick notes on product

Before we dive into the numbers, let’s discuss Freshworks’ historical product work.

The company started life with a single piece of software called Freshdesk. Freshdesk was born after the company’s CEO struggled with poor customer service when trying to return a broken television.

Per Mathrubootham, he felt like there were more avenues than ever for customers to reach companies, and that the business market was evolving in a way that gave customers more clout in how brands were perceived. So, Freshdesk brought together a host of customer contact methods, including social media, which at the time was a more nascent market category.

Freshworks later noticed that some of its customers were using its customer service software to offer IT support to their own employees. From that observation, the company built Freshservice, a version of its original product, but tuned for internal use. The company later built out sales tools and, more recently, a unified database for customer data. The latter allows companies using Freshworks software to have a single record for each customer across marketing and sales interactions, which it intends to extend to support communications as well.

All that’s to say that Freshworks has a product that it can sell to small companies that may need a single piece of its larger product mix, and lots more software that it can upsell to those customers. And that it has a product suite it can sell to larger companies as well.

So how has the company performed in the market? Let’s find out.

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