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The Evolution of B2B Software Reviews

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Godard Abel

Founder's Spotlight

Godard Abel, Founder and CEO of G2 is a pioneer in the world of B2B Software and SaaS reviews joins our host, Ray Rike to discuss the benefits of being a multiple-time CEO as he guides G2 into the next stage of growth and success. During the conversation, Godard and Ray cover a wide array of topics including:

  • The benefit of being a multiple-time B2B SaaS Founder and CEO

  • How the experience of a Salesforce acquisition impacts perspective

  • The vision behind G2 and B2B Software Reviews (yesterday and tomorrow)

  • How AI will change the B2B SaaS industry

  • Build or Buy a Large Language Foundational Model (LLM)

Godard started by founding Big Machines on January 1, 2000, to build a company for the new millennium. During the "dot-com" bust, Godard learned the importance of customer focus and winning and keeping one customer at a time. The most important lesson Godard shared is the importance of continuous learning.

G2 was founded 12 years ago, with the initial vision of becoming "Yelp for Software" which did not exist for B2B software and SaaS. This coincided with Marc Andreessen's "Software will eat the world" and Godard saw the opportunity to become the Amazon for buying B2B SaaS and Software.

The journey to building G2 took a slight detour as Godard saw that building the audience of B2B software buyers to both provide reviews and then use reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. He simultaneously founded SteelBrick which was ultimately acquired by Salesforce.

Back to G2 - the initial focus was on Sales and Marketing software as the buyers of revenue technology were more likely to share their experience online, especially compared to buyers of finance, HR, and infrastructure software. Some buyers of software who wrote the reviews even saw the published review as a career enhancement opportunity.

What is the point of "critical mass" for B2B Reviews? The key was to have at least 20 reviews on the top 10 products, the reviews become more meaningful for the buyers. Then being able to rank on Google via SEO, becomes the point where monetizing B2B reviews is first possible - though getting to that point is and was a LONG journey. One of the techniques to get reviews includes incentivising reviewers with gift cards.

Another key approach is to progress on a category-by-category basis to build the critical mass of buyer reviews - and today G2 has over 2,300 different categories covered on their platform.

Godard shared a few learnings from being acquired by Salesforce and then running a business unit within Salesforce. Godard highlighted the value of the V2MOM process, which begins with the vision and then the values that guide execution. Then write down the "methods" and "measurements" to ensure that the "how" is well understood and the measurements of success are well understood by everyone in the company. Godard said almost every meeting with Mark Benioff started with the V2MOM review, which included the measures of ACV bookings, year-over-year growth, pipeline, and where you stand against plan!

The ultimate goal for G2 is to become a "Software Marketplace" that goes beyond being the leading Software/SaaS Reviews platform. Ultimately, Godard envisions moving beyond being a lead source for B2B SaaS/Software vendors, but even going beyond by enabling testing of the software to ultimate purchase - similar to what Amazon has done for retail.

What are the metrics that G2 uses to measure the health of the business? The first thing Godard highlighted was the hiring of Chad Gold as CFO. The top metric is "Net New ARR" growth and then splitting that into growth from new customers and existing customers. The next metric is customer churn, and ensuring that maintaining and expanding existing ARR continues to grow as measured by NRR and GRR. Godard shared the importance of ensuring you fix Gross Revenue Retention is the first step to having good Net Revenue Retention.

What is Godard's favorite SaaS Metric? He highlighted Net New ARR / Sales and Marketing expenses and the importance of calculating this metric by customer segments.

The final topic was asking Godard HOW AI will change the B2B SaaS industry? Having the advantage of a large customer base and the associated data will serve as competitive moats as SaaS companies evolve into providing AI enabled value. Godard sees a combination of both existing vendors who have established the competitive moats and also native start-up AI companies both be winners in the AI era.

If you are in a company that buys or sells B2B SaaS and Software, this conversation with Godard Abel, Founder and CEO of G2 is a great listen!!!

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