After a heated run, SaaS and cloud stocks dipped sharply during regular trading on Monday.
According to the category-tracking Bessemer cloud index, public SaaS and cloud stocks dropped around 6.5% today, a material blow to the value of some of the world’s most highly valued companies, measured by sector-averaged revenue multiples.
After recovering all their COVID-19-related losses earlier this year, SaaS and cloud stocks kept on rising, reaching new all-time highs with regularity. But earnings season is starting, meaning that the value of modern software and digital infrastructure companies will soon be tested against Q2 results — results that were recorded fully during the global pandemic.
To hear bulls — both private and public — tell the story, COVID-19 and its ensuing workplace disruptions have provided software companies with a huge boon. Namely, that customers current and future have radically changed their procurement models and will need more software solutions, more quickly, than they previously anticipated. (Stay tuned to The Exchange for more on this later in the week.)
The thought that there are more and better customers coming for SaaS and cloud companies made them relative safe havens in otherwise turbulent public markets; while other industries had uncertain demand curves, the thinking went, software companies were being pushed forward by an accelerating secular shift.
Today, however, the broader markets slipped from early-day positions of strength while SaaS and cloud shares dropped sharply. Prior patterns in investor behavior didn’t hold up, in other words.
Why today brought such sharp selling is not clear. No more, really, than reasons for prior days’ gains were clear at the time. Profit taking? Rotation to other sectors? Whatever you want to ascribe to the day’s declines you can make stick.
For our purposes here at TechCrunch, the dropping share prices of public software companies serves as an anti-signal for late-stage valuations in SaaS startups, and a general headwind toward venture investors making more early-stage bets in the sector. Of course, one day doesn’t change the game. But several days of sharp losses could begin to change sentiment, and days when shares of modern software companies drop by 6% are few and far between.
Earnings are next, but for many companies in the SaaS and cloud world, reporting their results just got easier. When expectations drop, everyone loses a bit of worry, right?