Why SaaS Companies are Moving Away from Pricing Transparency (and Why That’s a Bad Thing) | OpenView Labs

Back in June 2016, I reported on a relatively new phenomenon in SaaS: the rise of pricing transparency. We investigated pricing practices at 87 of the largest public and private software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies in the US. That study revealed that more than half of private SaaS unicorns (55%) were publishing their pricing online for the world to see, as opposed to only 28% of public SaaS companies.

These SaaS unicorns seemed to embrace a new ethos. Rather than being opaque and hard to do business with, like enterprise software companies of yesteryear, the SaaS company of the future had nothing to hide. They would be friendlier to their buyers, who often didn’t want to waste cycles talking to a sales rep just to get basic pricing information about a product.

Well, the pendulum has swung back the other direction. I revisited the private SaaS unicorns that I had analyzed back in June 2016, companies that include InsideSales.com, Docker, Slack, DocuSign and Dropbox, and found that today, 47% publish their pricing, down slightly from 55% a year and a half ago. No companies that had previously hid their pricing shifted towards transparency in the most recent study.

I also tracked down data on new SaaS unicorns, companies like  Zuora and GitHub, that reached a billion dollar valuation after our original study. Of these new unicorns, a measly 21% publish pricing – a figure lower than what I had seen for publicly traded companies back in 2016. Taken together, just 33% of SaaS unicorns of the 66 we studied currently publish their pricing.

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Why SaaS Companies are Moving Away from Pricing Transparency (and Why That’s a Bad Thing) | OpenView Labs.