The 20 most common types of software companies

Here are 20 of the most common types of software companies that I see right now. Which one describes your company?

1) The startup just starting. More hope than traction so far.

2) The big public company grinding it out every quarter.

3) The funded company with cash in the bank. Big vision and optimism.

4) The startup in reality. Fighting to survive and find a way to grow.

5) The self-funded company with steady growth and happy teams.

6) The startup that got stuck. Either went away or will soon.

7) The acquired company that won’t survive assimilation.

8) The private equity-owned company trying to double revenues and profits with intense execution.

9) The post-startup grower that just might change their part of the world someday.

10) The small business that is just fine being small and profitable every year.

11) The small business that isn’t fine being small and profitable.

12) The old software company in decline. Its time has passed.

13) The acquired software company that was left alone and didn’t die.

14) The zombie company that was overfunded but stopped growing. Ignored and struggling.

15) The huge dominant monopoly that is profitable and untouchable.

16) The hybrid software company with tech-leveraged services.

17) The 1- or 2-person company that’s better than working for a salary.

18) The side gig in purgatory. Can’t quit the day job.

19) The corporate innovation fighting internal antibodies that resist change and risk.

20) The software product inside a services business that spins out as its own SaaS product business.

?) What other types of software companies did I miss?

I am a professional observer and helper in the software industry, after a 30-year career as a player. Not many people can say that.

Here’s what’s interesting to me:

  • There’s no hierarchy here. Each of these forms has fans and critics.
  • Founders can win their prizes with almost any of these approaches.
  • All of these companies are struggling and fighting in their own lanes to survive and grow.
  • Each of these groups has about the same amount of companies. (Except for the dominant monopolies. That’s the smallest group by far, by # of companies.)
  • The idea or prototype or vision is not a company yet.
  • A software product inside a services business isn’t an independent software company yet.
  • This is the same list all over the world.

This diversity is endlessly fascinating to me.

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