the first Indian SaaS startup to list on the Nasdaq.
In a conversation with ET’s Alnoor Peermohamed and Dia Rekhi, Mathrubootham said that apart from opening the door for other Indian SaaS firms to go public, the
Freshworks IPO has created a lot of wealth for his employees. Over 500 staff have become crorepatis, 69 of them under the age of 30, he said.
Would you say Freshworks going public is vindication for Indian SaaS having arrived at the global stage, and do you think this will inspire more Indian SaaS companies to tap the public markets?
Ten years ago, the number one problem for Indian startups was that there was a lack of exits.
When the Flipkart exit happened, I think that was a big moment. Going public is really the kind of exit that investors want because it’s a massive opportunity, and this will supercharge the ecosystem.
I call this the Roger Bannister moment. He was the first athlete who broke the record for running a mile in under four minutes and then in the immediate year after, you had so many other athletes that did it. I see this moment of Freshworks as the equivalent of that.
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Freshworks has become the first Indian software products company to list on Nasdaq, raising more than $1.03 billion from investors through its initial public offering at a market cap of $10.13 billion.
There are more startups waiting in the wings, and over the next few years we will see them all coming out. I personally believe that SaaS for India is as big as the IT services moment that happened in the 90s.
If the rules allowed it, or made it easier, would you have liked to have listed on the Indian stock markets?
Different companies have different realities. We have been a global company from day one. Our customers are in 120-plus countries and all of our revenues from day one have been recognised in the US. We’re structurally a US-headquartered company, and so I think Freshworks listing in the US made a lot more sense.
The Indian markets are also good—
Zomato had a fantastic IPO. Whether you list in India or in the US, it’s good, but for Freshworks we thought this is the right direction.
Two thirds of your employees are shareholders. Was this done by design and what has been your employees reaction to this listing?
This is something we always wanted to do. I’m personally passionate about employee wealth creation. There’s an interview in The Economic Times from 2015 where I’ve said that I told my wife I’m not starting Freshworks for me to buy a BMW, I’m starting it so that all my employees can buy BMWs
(read the interview here). I think today we are delivering on that promise and all Freshworks employees are happy.
I’m super happy and grateful for all the contributions that employees have made, because I truly believe that I am not building Freshworks, all of us together are building Freshworks.
Employees who have really participated in the making of this company should share the rewards. More than 500 of our employees in India will be crorepatis, and 69 of them are under the age of 30.
This is one of the big dreams that you’ve realised, but going forward what are you looking forward to?
We are going to really celebrate big today, because this is a milestone worth celebrating. But it is day zero for Freshworks all over again. We are truly inspired by the massive opportunity in front of us. We have a massive $120 billion market opportunity, so if you look at that, we have just scratched the surface.
We truly want to build the most iconic product company to ever come from India. I would say I’m still fresh, I’m all in, and we are going to lead the entire Freshworks family to dream about that dream and move forward.