To build a successful and enduring company, you need more than just hype, publicity, or impressive fundraising skills.
Ultimately it all boils down to one simple principle: you must have a product that solves a pressing problem, and then the right amount of paying customers to make the math work.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Point Nine Capital, and it highlights five basic revenue models that startups can use to achieve $100 million in annual revenue.
The take home message here is that to build a long-term business, a team must implement a realistic strategy that considers multiple factors including product-market fit, user acquisition, pricing, and revenue per user.
Are you hunting flies, or are you trying to hunt elephants?
Just like in real life, these things require very different strategies and tactics. To build a $100 million revenue per year company, you’ll need to have a clear vision of your product-market fit and the customers you’re going after.
While the hunting analogy may be an oversimplification, it does help illustrate an undeniable truth to building large companies: how many users you will need depends on how much revenue you can earn per user.
This has implications.
If you are going to get $10 in annual ad revenue for each user, then you need a lot of users. If you’re going after Fortune 500 companies, you’ll need far fewer customers, but also a sophisticated and detailed sales strategy.
Flies – $10 per user x 10 million customers = $100 million in annual revenue
It takes a lot of flies to add up.
To build a big business with flies, you’ll need a product with a high viral coefficient (Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.) that spreads your brand quickly and inexpensively. Alternatively, you can build a platform that allows for the creation of massive amounts of user generated content (UGC) such as Yelp or Reddit.
Mice – $100 per user x 1 million customers = $100 million in annual revenue
Mice are still pretty small, but the expectations are higher than for flies. To get $100 per user, these customers will have to be directly paying for something, like a $10 monthly subscription. Music-streaming company Spotify is a good example of a startup hunting for mice.
Rabbits – $1k per user x 100k customers = $100 million in annual revenue
Once you hit rabbit territory, we are basically out of reach of B2C customers. That means to get 100k customers, they will likely have to be small businesses.
To do this, you’ll need a fantastic product, excellent inbound marketing, and an extremely high NPS (Net Promoter Score). The latter metric is used to measure the likelihood a customer would recommend you to their peers.
Deer – $10k per user x 10k customers = $100 million in annual revenue
We’re now getting up there in size – which makes it likely that deer have to be medium-sized businesses. These customers can afford to spend $10,000 per year, but expect a significant return on their investment.
While revenue per user is much higher than preceding levels, it is still not likely enough to warrant traditional enterprise field sales.
Elephants – $100k per user x 1k customers = $100 million in annual revenue
Going after elephants is a totally different world, and requires a skilled sales force, patience, and an enterprise-focused approach. You’ll need to educate Fortune 500 companies on why they should spend $100,000 with you each year – and you’ll need to be able to back that all up with a killer product.
Software as a Service (SaaS) companies like Workday or Salesforce often use this kind of strategy, and it allows them to key in on the features that their most important clients want to see. As we noted in a previous infographic, investors love the predictable revenue stemming from a well-positioned SaaS company.
How Big Tech Revenue and Profit Breaks Down, by Company
How do the big tech giants make their money? This series of graphics shows a breakdown of big tech revenue, using Q2 2022 income statements.
In the media and public discourse, companies like Alphabet, Apple, and Microsoft are often lumped together into the same “Big Tech” category. After all, they constitute the world’s largest companies by market capitalization.
And because of this, it’s easy to assume they’re in direct competition with each other, fiercely battling for a bigger piece of the “Big Tech” pie. But while there is certainly competition between the world’s tech giants, it’s a lot less drastic than you might imagine.
This is apparent when you look into their various revenue streams, and this series of graphics by Truman Du provides a revenue breakdown of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.
How Big Tech Companies Generate Revenue
So how does each big tech firm make money? Let’s explore using data from each company’s June 2022 quarterly income statements.
View the full-size infographic
In Q2 2022, about 72% of Alphabet’s revenue came from search advertising. This makes sense considering Google and YouTube get a lot of eyeballs. Google dominates the search market—about 90% of all internet searches are done on Google platforms.
View the full-size infographic
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon’s biggest revenue driver is e-commerce. However, as the graphic above shows, the costs of e-commerce are so steep, that it actually reported a net loss in Q2 2022.
As it often is, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the company’s main profit-earner this quarter.
View the full-size infographic
Apple’s biggest revenue driver is consumer electronics sales, particularly from the iPhone which accounts for nearly half of overall revenue. iPhones are particularly popular in the U.S., where they make up around 50% of smartphone sales across the country.
Besides devices, services like Apple Music, Apple Pay, and Apple TV+ also generate revenue for the company. But in Q2 2022, Apple’s services branch accounted for only 24% of the company’s overall revenue.
View the full-size infographic
Microsoft has a fairly even split between its various revenue sources, but similarly to Amazon its biggest revenue driver is its cloud services platform, Azure.
After AWS, Azure is the second largest cloud server in the world, capturing 21% of the global cloud infrastructure market.
Animation: The Most Popular Websites by Web Traffic (1993-2022)
This video shows the evolution of the internet, highlighting the most popular websites from 1993 until 2022.
The Most Popular Websites Since 1993
Over the last three decades, the internet has grown at a mind-bending pace.
In 1993, there were fewer than 200 websites available on the World Wide Web. Fast forward to 2022, and that figure has grown to 2 billion.
This animated graphic by James Eagle provides a historical look at the evolution of the internet, showing the most popular websites over the years from 1993 to 2022.
The 90s to Early 2000s: Dial-Up Internet
It was possible to go on the proto-internet as early as the 1970s, but the more user-centric and widely accessible version we think of today didn’t really materialize until the early 1990s using dial-up modems.
Dial-up gave users access to the web through a modem that was connected to an active telephone line. There were several different portals in the 1990s for internet use, such as Prodigy and CompuServe, but AOL quickly became the most popular.
AOL held its top spot as the most visited website for nearly a decade. By June 2000, the online portal was getting over 400 million monthly visits. For context, there were about 413 million internet users around the world at that time.
|Rank||Website||Monthly Visits (May 2000)|
But when broadband internet hit the market and made dial-up obsolete, AOL lost its footing, and a new website took the top spot—Yahoo.
The Mid 2000s: Yahoo vs. Google
Founded in 1994, Yahoo started off as a web directory that was originally called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.”
When the company started to pick up steam, its name changed to Yahoo, which became a backronym that stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”
Yahoo grew fast and by the early 2000s, it became the most popular website on the internet. It held its top spot for several years—by April 2004, Yahoo was receiving 5.6 billion monthly visits.
|Rank||Website||Monthly Visits (April 2004)|
But Google was close on its heels. Founded in 1998, Google started out as a simpler and more efficient search engine, and the website quickly gained traction.
Funny enough, Google was actually Yahoo’s default search engine in the early 2000s until Yahoo dropped Google so it could use its own search engine technology in 2004.
For the next few years, Google and Yahoo competed fiercely, and both names took turns at the top of the most popular websites list. Then, in the 2010s, Yahoo’s trajectory started to head south after a series of missed opportunities and unsuccessful moves.
This cemented Google’s place at the top, and the website is still the most popular website as of January 2022.
The Late 2000s, Early 2010s: Social Media Enters the Chat
While Google has held its spot at the top for nearly two decades, it’s worth highlighting the emergence of social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
YouTube and Facebook certainly weren’t the first social media platforms to gain traction. MySpace had a successful run back in 2007—at one point, it was the third most popular website on the World Wide Web.
|Rank||Website||Monthly Visits (Jan 2007)|
But YouTube and Facebook marked a new era for social media platforms, partly because of their impeccable timing. Both platforms entered the scene around the same time that smartphone innovations were turning the mobile phone industry on its head. The iPhone’s design, and the introduction of the App store in 2008, made it easier than ever to access the internet via your mobile device.
As of January 2022, YouTube and Facebook are still the second and third most visited websites on the internet.
The 2020s: Google is Now Synonymous With the Internet
Google is the leading search engine by far, making up about 90% of all web, mobile, and in-app searches.
What will the most popular websites be in a few years? Will Google continue to hold the top spot? There are no signs of the internet giant slowing down anytime soon, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that things change. And no one should get too comfortable at the top.
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