See the early pitch decks of unicorn companies, including LinkedIn (before it had a dime of revenue) and Buzzfeed when it had just 2.5M monthly page views.
Notching a billion-dollar valuation as a private tech company is hard, exiting at one is even harder. For nearly all the most valuable investor-backed companies in tech, nailing a pitch to early potential investors, recruits, and customers was a step on the journey. As Bill Gurley of Benchmark noted in his defense of the pitch deck:
“Investors are not solely evaluating your company’s story. They are also evaluating your ability to convey that story.”
So we compiled the early decks of 10 private or exited companies valued in the billions of dollars. These include the decks of pre-revenue LinkedIn and a then-smallish-site named Buzzfeed, when it was registering just 2.5M monthly page views. Would you have invested in the vision they were pitching?
Airbnb, current valuation: $29.3B
In its early pitch, Airbnb named Coachsurfing, Hostels.com, Hotels.com, and Craigslist as competitors. Today, its $29.3B private market valuation is greater than the public market capitalizations of Marriott, Starwood, Expedia, Wyndham, and HomeAway.
AppNexus, current valuation: $2.2B
First Round Capital shared this seed deck used by AppNexus, then a platform that would let companies run applications in the cloud. Seven months after its A round, it pivoted to focus entirely on ad tech.
Buzzfeed, current valuation: $1.7B
LinkedIn, bought by Microsoft for $26.2B in 2016
Greylock Partners dug up LinkedIn’s Series B pitch deck from August 2004. The deck billed LinkedIn as “professional people search 2.0.” LinkedIn had yet to generate a dime of revenue — but the deck highlights revenue as a high priority and identifies clear streams to achieve it.
Magic Leap, current valuation: $3.68B
While not a pure pitch deck, this presentation by stealth mode giant Magic Leap elaborated on many of the use cases, UI, design and user personas for its products. Presentation linked below in image.
WeWork, current valuation: $16.9B
In October 2014 fundraising docs, WeWork expected revenues of $2.9B by 2018, while at the same time forecasting the number of its co-working members to grow from 16,279 to 260,000.
YouTube, acquired for $1.7B in 2006
In YouTube’s initial pitch deck (page 30 in the document below), the online video platform counted under 10,000 users and 100,000 video views per day but had rapid growth. More recently, YouTube was seeing 7 billon video views per day and over 1 billion users. The deck, which includes Sequoia Capital’s investment memo by partner Roelof Botha, was dug up by Thrive Capital’s Miles Grimshaw.
MySQL, acquired for $1B in 2008
This deck from MySQL’s 2003 series B comes to us courtesy of MySQL’s former CEO and was posted online by Tech.eu’s Robin Wauters. Weighing in at a whopping 186 slides, it’s relentlessly detailed and spends 10 slides on the market opportunity alone.
Yammer, acquired for $1.2B in 2012
Yammer’s deck jumps right into the ways the modern workplace is changing and how they address these issues. They devote a few of their 31 slides to accolades, awards, and testimonials from happy users, plus a little bullet point about having already raised money from top-tier VCs.
Nutanix, IPO in 2016
Nutanix understands that in pitch decks, sometimes less is more. Coming in at a lean 15 pages, the deck spends most of that time explaining Nutanix’s unique offering and strengths, without lapsing into too much technical detail. The deck ends with a succinct and memorable line: “The fastest growing infrastructure company of the last decade.”