Grow fast on your business

Our latest research on growth in software and online-services companies has some surprising findings about the benefits and risks of buying growth.

Acquisitions, done well, can be a powerful tool to accelerate revenue growth. And pushing for gains is vital in software and online services, where the rate of growth typically determines whether a company thrives, survives, or dies. While 20 percent revenue growth is enviable in most industries, companies in software and online services are expected to deliver numbers that are markedly higher. In fact, we’ve found that software and online-services companies with revenue that grows by more than 60 percent annually when they hit $100 million in sales are eight times more likely to eventually pass $1 billion in annual revenue than players with revenue that grows by less than 20 percent annually.1

However, acquisitions, done episodically, can also stifle growth. Our research shows that acquiring companies infrequently may actually disrupt organic growth and slow overall revenue gains. We examined the acquisition activity of 578 software and online-services companies that surpassed $100 million in annual revenue2and identified three lessons:

  • Low-volume acquisition programs disrupt growth; high-volume programs accelerate growth. The software and online-services companies whose revenue grew most rapidly had high-volume acquisition programs.
  • Successful acquisition programs complement organic growth. Among software and online-services companies that reached $1 billion in annual revenue, acquisition efforts preserved or accelerated organic growth. These companies completed more deals, squeezed more growth out of each deal, and managed to preserve high organic growth while investing energy in finding and incorporating acquisitions.
  • Successful acquisitions align with growth strategy. Companies that accelerate revenue growth through acquisitions don’t treat deals as an opportunistic event to capture cost synergies. They use several different deal archetypes—all linked to their fundamental growth strategy.