An Open Letter To All Companies Who Grew Revenue By 200% Last Year

I loathe press releases like this one from Ooyala, who I must say is our trusted video platform provider in the interest of full disclosure. I’m singling the company out today, because I’m quite fed up, but this is an honest plea for every company that loves to tout growth without saying anything substantial to, please, stop doing that.

So apparently Ooyala “grew revenue by nearly 200%, its customer base by over 50%, and delivered a record number of video technology innovations”.

Sounds impressive, except the statement says absolutely nothing about its revenues, the size of its customer base or what the company has done to innovate video technology.

Listen, we understand, you’re a privately held company and can’t disclose revenues at this time. We get that. But please stop touting your revenue growth in percentages in an effort to gain some exposure with regards to your income if you don’t feel like talking numbers.

For all we know, Ooyala made $1 in 2009, and $2.9 in 2010. That would mean they grew revenues by nearly 200% last year. Except it wouldn’t be all that impressive, right?

We get emails about this sort of stuff all. the. time.

Hey TechCrunch, we figured you and your readers would be interested to know that we managed to triple our revenues in 2010! What those revenues were, then? Sorry, can’t say, we’re privately held as I’m sure you know, so we can’t disclose revenues at this point.

Wait, why did you get in touch again?

Excuse the rant, but it annoys me to no end. We’re a blog that loves sharing information about the technology business, and primarily Internet startups, with readers, preferably before anyone else does. Numbers are terrific: they provide context, enable readers and industry watchers to gauge trends and startup valuations, allow for honest comparisons to be made between companies across various industries and for us to monitor their growth.

You do not have to report numbers if you don’t want to. That’s fine, no time wasted on either end, and perhaps one day you’ll be a public company and you won’t have any choice but to disclose revenues for the last quarter. Trust us, then we’ll really pay attention.

But until that day, feel free to share numbers we can work with – we appreciate it when you’re straightforward. But if you choose not to, then, sorry, just don’t bother.

Don’t pretend to share information about your revenues when that’s really not what you’re doing at all. It’s obnoxious, misleading and a huge time sink for everyone involved.

Oh, and by the way, have you heard? Ooyala saw a 10x increase in hours of video viewed and a 2x increase in active unique users in 2010! Champagne for everyone!

Update: thanks to a commenter, this relevant Dilbert strip: