The tricky market conditions have dented the revenues of many SaaS companies as their corporate clients cut software spend. UK tech darling Onfido is no exception. The identity verification software scaleup — which was once reportedly considering a US IPO — is now focused on more short-term goals: reducing its reliance on VC cash and selling more to customers in the EU.
“If you look back two years ago, everything was on fire and up to the right, but things are much slower now,” CEO Mike Tuchen tells Sifted.
“We’re seeing that as some companies are growing a lot less and we’re mostly used in their onboarding scheme, they need less of what we do. So when it comes to renewal time, they’re renewing for a smaller commitment than what they did the year before.”
Tuchen says Onfido is now focused on becoming “cashflow positive” by the end of 2024. He says the company is doing this by prioritising efficiency over growth and “as we say internally, unhooking ourselves from the drug of other people’s money”.
Onfido has raised $211m to date from investors including TPG, Talis Capital and Salesforce Ventures, but last raised in 2020, a long time ago in VC-land. Tuchen says the startup hasn't raised any internal or unannounced rounds since then, but it does have a credit line with HSBC Innovation (formerly SVB).
This process, Tuchen tells Sifted, involved layoffs last year that haven't been reported or announced. Tuchen won't specify how many staff were cut in the process but does say it’s fewer than the 11% drop in headcount over the last 12 months that LinkedIn data suggests. He says the workforce now stands at around 600 people.
“I didn’t publicise our layoffs because I don’t think it’s a great idea to publicise it,” he says. “But we’re also being very careful about replacing people that choose to leave — so I don’t expect that number to grow until we get to cashflow positive.”
Selling to fintechs in a downturn
Tuchen says that for Onfido, it’s been a tale of two kinds of customers amid a tougher software market.
“In areas where there’s high competition with a number of players like in the US, we’ve negotiated our prices down, but in other smaller markets like Europe, our prices are actually going up.”
The CEO says that the company’s net expansion rate across its existing customer base (ie. their increase in spend over time) is “still healthy, but not what it was two years ago”.
European regulation unlocking growth
Fintech investors tell Sifted they’ve previously been expecting Onfido’s future revenue growth to be pinned on moving upmarket and selling to the big banks — the startup already counts HSBC and TSB as clients. But in the current environment, Tuchen says hanging on to existing customers and focusing on Europe is key.
“There’s the obvious observation that renewing existing customers typically costs three to five times less than acquiring new customers,” Tuchen says. “So people expanding with us is the big contributor to becoming cashflow positive.”
Onfido is also hoping that its recent ETSI certification, the latest EU regulatory standard for identity-proofing companies in the bloc, will help it grow. Tuchen says Onfido is the first global identity verification company that’s gained this credential, which he hopes will mean the company overtakes rivals as the software of choice for anyone expanding into Europe.
“Looking forward, my expectation is the macro environment will probably start to improve in the next six to nine months, and we’ll then hopefully see more net expansion,” he says.
“Getting to traditional banks remains one target area, but I don’t see that as the biggest needle mover. For us, the biggest thing is really driving EU expansion right now where there’s a huge regulatory shift happening and we boast credentials that others don’t have.”
And is an IPO still Onfido’s dream exit?
“It's not something that we internally spend much time on, as the things we need to do to create value are the same,” Tuchen says.
“Whether someone says ‘we love you, we want to buy you’, or we choose to go public before that, we’re focusing on driving efficiency first.”