Our Investment in Airbase: Streamlining the Office of the CFO
We’re thrilled to announce, after well over a year’s pursuit, that we are investors in Airbase! The company is led by a special founder, Thejo Kote, and hits the bullseye of an active thesis we’ve been pursuing around the “Office of the CFO.” Airbase’s spend management software is a key pillar in any finance department’s tech stack and combines all aspects of non-payroll spend (corporate credit cards, employee expense reimbursement, accounts payable, and approvals) into a single platform, fixing the broken, siloed workflows that pain finance teams everywhere and makes their jobs much less efficient.
Our thesis revolves around the belief that the CFO and team are more empowered than ever to buy applications—and yet, they have way too many disconnected apps, are being asked to close the books faster than ever, and are required to have high, real-time visibility into the budget and spending of all departments. This is increasingly complex and important and is the reason why we’re seeing a host of best-of-breed apps like Airbase rising to specifically address these needs. This new stack includes everything from payroll (Gusto) to procurement (Scout RFP, Enable) to equity management (Carta) to SaaS management (Zylo) to compliance (TBA shortly), and now, the very important pillar of spend management (Airbase).
While we had a thesis on the area, that was only where the fit started! Our interest originated from portfolio companies like Harness, Heap, Netlify, and, more recently, Abnormal Security and Everlaw, using and truly loving the product. It also helped that we were close to a couple of key advisors to the company, Ron Gill (whom we work with on the Benchling board) and Mike Dinsdale (whom we worked with when he was CFO at DocuSign and Gusto). There is rarely a better signal about a great opportunity than having trusted people in your network rave about an entrepreneur and product.
But what really made it an easy decision was spending time with Thejo and understanding how he thinks about the magnitude of the opportunity. He is a product founder at heart, and from day one, his goal has been to deeply understand finance workflows and create one comprehensive application. The fact that he is a repeat founder (having sold his last company, Automatic, to SiriusXM) shows in how quickly he has moved to build an exceptional team, forge important partnerships, and stay extremely close to customers.
While the spend management category is not without competition, Airbase is the only company that fully addresses the enormous market opportunity and has built an end-to-end solution that customers love and are willing to pay for. The business model is SaaS, not free software subsidized with interchange. Customers will pay for software they love, and they are certainly doing so with Airbase, as measured by its doubling ARR every six months.
We are a thesis-driven firm, and this fits squarely into our departmental SaaS and Office of the CFO theses. We look for broken workflows that are dominated by Office products (Word, Excel, email), have a highly antiquated, monolithic incumbent, or feature a fragmented set of apps that have evolved in silos without truly understanding how a particular function could optimally perform their work. It’s great to find such a terrific team aligned with that vision and who are executing so well. We believe great products and entrepreneurs win, so if you haven’t heard of or tried Airbase, please do. Mid-market is the sweet spot for the company, as it’s exactly the segment that is most strained for resources and can benefit from a solution like Airbase—allowing teams to be nimble, empower employees, and make key decisions faster.
It’s great to be partnering with Thejo and Airbase on their path to building the Salesforce of the Office of the CFO!