Mark Lee on Splashtop Achieving Unicorn Status

Splashtop Unicorn

How Splashtop Became the Latest $1 Billion Valuation Tech Unicorn

By Mark Lee, Chief Evangelist

Splashtop has just closed $50 million in new funding, led by our long-time investor Sapphire Ventures, which pushes our valuation to over $1 billion!

The journey to unicorn has not been a straight, smooth upward line; we zigzagged and transformed our business multiple times with different products and business models. However, a common theme is that we consistently aim to innovate and bring best-in-class products and services to delight our customers.

There are many ways to tell the Splashtop story. Here are a few of them.

Splashtop used some key technology innovations and market insights to build an agile, responsive, solid company.

A chronological outline of the Splashtop story:

  • Splashtop began—in 2006, with the name DeviceVM—because a bunch of us were frustrated by how long Windows took to boot on our PCs, and by how Windows had become slower and slower as we installed more applications and drivers (known as “Windows Rot”). So we designed and sold the industry’s first browser operating system (OS), a secure, instant-on browser OS that allowed users to get online in less than 5 seconds.
  • That OS product was named Splashtop, which combined the term for the BIOS ‘splash’ screen, which boots before the operating system boots, and the ‘top’ of the word desktop. Later, Splashtop became the company name.
  • Our instant-on browser OS was very popular, shipping from 2007-2011 on over 300 million PCs and netbooks from major OEMs including ASUS (Express Gate), Acer (Instant View), HP (QuickWeb), Dell (Latitude ON), Lenovo (Quick Start), LG (Smart On), Sony (VAIO Quick Web Access), and others.
  • As our Linux-based browser OS took off, Microsoft countered by introducing the low-cost Windows 7 Starter for netbooks, coupled with other business tactics to fight off Linux proliferation at PC OEMs. Newly introduced Windows 7 began to boot from a flash chip and leveraged Splashtop-patented techniques around fast-boot. Google also learned much from our instant-on browser OS and launched Chromebook in 2011, four years after our innovation.
  • As iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices emerged, we realized we needed to forge a new direction that would bridge the PC and mobile worlds while leveraging our core expertise in delivering high-performance software to delight our users.
  • We introduced Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPhone and iPad, redefining the remote access experience: high performance with zero lag, capable of delivering 1080P video at 30 fps (frames per second).
  • In May and June 2011, Splashtop Remote Desktop beat Angry Birds as the #1 paid iPad app on the Apple AppStore, and our product won many industry awards.
  • At the 2012 CES, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang showcased, on the main CES stage, Splashtop Remote Desktop to enable remote gaming; and a professional gamer used an NVIDIA Tegra-powered tablet to remote into an NVIDIA GeForce-powered gaming PC, streaming 1080p game at 60fps with sub-30ms latency over Wi-Fi. This was the precursor to the remote gaming wave initiated by NVIDIA Shield, Google Stadia, and others.
  • Over the past decade, Splashtop has become a worldwide leader in enabling easy, secure, reliable, and affordable remote access to the computing resources needed for work, learning, play, and IT support—anywhere, anytime, from any device.

Splashtop went from important to essential as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions on people’s movements and gatherings triggered a rapid, dramatic shift to remote work and distance learning. Before 2020, according to 451 Research, only 13% of employees worked entirely remotely. By May 2020, 65% of businesses had established widespread work-from-home policies.

For many employees, students, instructors, researchers, IT support personnel, and others, this shift meant finding ways to remotely access crucial software applications and computing resources. And that shift led to a huge increase in demand for Splashtop solutions.

Some recent examples of how Splashtop helped keep activities running during the pandemic:

  • Faculty and students at higher education institutions and K-12 schools across North America gained access to on-campus computer lab resources, including sophisticated software applications needed for courses in areas as diverse as architecture, music, theatre design, chemistry, fine arts, communication studies, biology, fashion design, and career and technical education (CTE). They used Adobe Creative Suite, AutoCAD, Revit, Avid Pro Tools, and a full range of additional 3D design and modeling, animation, video editing, music production, and other applications.
  • A news meteorologist remotely broadcast his news and weather reports without stepping into the TV studio.
  • A Hollywood producer and USC film school professor recorded film remotely using an iPhone and Splashtop remote access software.
  • Clinical research centers performed remote research for COVID-19 vaccines and other pharmaceutical products on behalf of leading pharmaceutical companies.

Splashtop has pursued a business strategy that values both growth and profitability.

In the investment world, the Rule of 40 is a way to evaluate the investment prospects of software companies. If the sum of revenue growth and profit margin equals or exceeds 40, the company is deemed a potentially healthy investment.

Splashtop has a growth rate of 160% and profits of 60%—for a total of 220. That’s more than 5X the Rule of 40! And we’ve been profitable since 2015, so this isn’t some flash-in-the-pan recent development.

Achieving a Rule of 200+ really sets us apart among companies reaching unicorn status. We’re proud that we’ve pursued this path, because it bodes well for our long-term business health.

Splashtop walks our talk when it comes to our core values.

If I were to sum up Splashtop’s core value in one sentence, it would be: Delighting our customers, globally.

Breaking that down into a few more specifics, we believe in:

  • Customer satisfaction. Our 93 Net Promoter Score (NPS), a standard for assessing customer satisfaction, is the best in the industry.
  • Compare Splashtop to any of our competitors, and you’ll see the difference immediately. We offer best-in-class solutions at reasonable prices.
  • Security, reliability, and compliance. Our customers trust us to keep their sensitive and private information secure. We have more than 10 years’ experience delivering high-performance remote access and remote support solutions to more than 30 million users in hundreds of millions of sessions. We comply with the latest security standards and regulations, including GDPR, HIPAA, SOC2, and PCI, and we recently assembled a Security Advisory Council of wide-ranging experts to help guide us toward achieving our ever-more-rigorous security and compliance goals.
  • No hidden purchase conditions. No surprises in what we’re delivering or how much it costs: We maintain a consistent, stable pricing structure without annual increases. And if something in the world causes us to change any aspect of our business, we communicate it clearly, honestly, and promptly.
  • A high-performance user experience. For us, performance is so much more than just a speeds-and-feeds value on a datasheet. The performance of our products translates directly into our customers’ ability to achieve their goals in work, school, or entertainment. We built our products with a foundation of high performance, and we continue to innovate to keep improving our performance metrics.

Splashtop owes our success to our customers.

We want to extend a sincere thank you to our customers! We love to hear from you, and we rely on your feedback so we can continually improve our products and services. Because of our customers’ evangelism and support, we have been able to grow fast and profitably.

As we march forward, there’s a widespread belief that the work-from-home and distance-learning trends will continue even after the pandemic restrictions end. As an example, a survey by Gartner Inc. in December 2020 found that 90% of company leaders responding to the survey intend to permit remote working at least some of the time even after a COVID-19 vaccine is available, and 65% reported that they would continue offering greater flexibility in where, when, and how their employees work.

Those kinds of predictions give us confidence that Splashtop will continue to grow and thrive as a business, long into the future.

Not bad for a company co-founded by four college friends—who, 30 years later, are all still together at Splashtop. And all still friends.

by Mark Lee, CEO and Chief Evangelist at Splashtop 

Mark Lee


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