Companies are putting their long-term future in jeopardy by focussing too much on valuation and reaching Unicorn status, according to Alteryx president and COO George Mathew.
Mathew, a veteran of the VC and tech scene in the US, told Growth Business companies should be focused on growth at “the level of scale of sustainability that has frankly been missing from the narrative.”
“A lot of organisations that has gone through recent funding rounds, and there’s nothing wrong with going through sizable funding rounds, have a focus on valuation that has never made sense to us.”
Mathews went on to warn that a forensic focus on valuation also risks leaving customers’ needs behind as a business’s offering plays second fiddle to reaching “milestone valuations”.
“Even when you’re in a high-growth, fast moving market, the focus can’t be on just obtaining the highest valuation for the company,” he explained. “In the last two years there has been this notion of trying to get yourselves to this Unicorn status.”
But among the exclusive club of businesses who have reached the fabled $1bn valuation, Mathew believes there is “an underbelly of almost sub-prime unicorns”.
“They’ve optimised for valuation as opposed to building sustainable, growth-driven companies,” he continued. “And this is where we bristle at the idea that the focus is valuation; the focus is your customers. It’s about their success and your ability to solve challenges for them. That’s what drives that long-term sustainability and growth in the marketplace.”
Mathew’s own data analysis company Alteryx has this week gone through its own $85m funding round. But he insists that during the process the board were not focused on the valuation itself but how the investment would help them achieve their aims.