Freshworks Nasdaq Listing Creates Boon for Indian Founder and Hundreds of Employees

When Girish Mathrubootham co-founded a cloud services company Freshdesk in the southern Indian city of Chennai in 2010, he knew exactly what he was aiming for: “We wanted to go big or go home,” he revealed to Forbes in a 2019 interview that now seems prescient.

The 11-year-old company, renamed Freshworks, made a remarkable Nasdaq debut on Wednesday at a valuation of $ 13 billion, as it closed its first trading day. The first Indian software as a service (SAAS) company to be listed on the Nasdaq, Freshworks raised $ 1.03 billion, selling 28.5 million shares at $ 36 per share. The shares started trading at a 21% premium to the IPO price and ended the day 32% higher at $ 47.55.

The successful IPO of the San Mateo-based company, which has 52,000 clients worldwide, resulted in a huge salary for the company co-founder and several hundred of his employees. Mathrubootham, 46, is worth around $ 700 million.

Freshworks reported 2020 revenue of $ 250 million and a net loss of $ 57 million. For the first half of this year, it posted revenue of $ 169 million and a net loss of $ 10 million.

Freshworks offers a suite of cloud-based enterprise software products in the global $ 120 billion cloud application services market. It has been on the Forbes Cloud 100 list, the ranking of the world’s top 100 private cloud companies, for five consecutive years, improving its ranking from No.95 in 2017 to No.10 this year.

Before bringing Freshworks to the stock market, Mathrubootham, nicknamed “G” by his friends and associates, had raised $ 327 million from venture capital firms such as Sequoia, Tiger, Accel and CapitalG, the venture capital fund of Google CapitalG.

Mathrubootham’s entrepreneurial dreams go back a long way. He grew up in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu, southern India, and completed his engineering studies at Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy near his hometown before graduating an MBA from the University of Madras.

Mathrubootham worked as a software engineer and even started computer training before taking a foothold in cloud services company Zoho in 2001. He spent nearly a decade there developing multiple products and learning the nuances of upgrading. the scale of an enterprise. (Zoho founder Sridhar Vembu and his family were among the richest in India with a net worth of $ 2.44 billion on the 2020 list of India’s 100 richest.)

Realizing that there was an untapped opportunity in the customer support arena, Mathrubootham left Zoho in 2010 to start his own business with five former colleagues. They took a 700 square foot office in a suburb of Chennai, for a monthly rent of $ 100.

Freshdesk started with one product: a low cost support service. His bet was that the customer support industry would be boosted by the favorable winds of growing cloud adoption; the increasing use of social media in customer support and the growth of mobile services.

Having never met a VC before – he didn’t even know what a condition sheet was – Mathrubootham nonetheless impressed Shekhar Kirani, a partner at venture capital firm Accel. When Kirani first visited the company’s office, he noticed that there was antique and mismatched furniture, but he was sporting six shiny Macs. Impressed by Mathrubootham’s focus on what mattered, Kirani asked Accel to invest $ 1million for a 23% stake. Accel now has a 26% stake valued at more than $ 3 billion.

Mathrubootham moved to the United States in 2019 to be closer to the North American market which represents more than 40% of its turnover. Today, he supports startups and is either an investor or an advisor in more than 50 of them. He is also the founding member of SaaSBoomi, an Asian community of founders and product builders in the SaaS space.

Mathrubootham has not forgotten his Tamil roots. Its IPO was dubbed “Project SuperStar” after South Indian cinema icon Rajinikanth, whom he idolizes. When he left a well-paying job to dive into uncharted entrepreneurial waters, he explained to his wife: “It’s not for me to buy a BMW, but for every employee to buy a BMW. Mathrubootham has finally kept his promise.

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