As the economy shifts, what’s the best software customer?

(It might be SMBs)

It’s a busy time in tech, with billions of dollars of value incinerated in recent days: FTX is at death’s door, while Twitter, recently sold at a price that no longer made sense once the transaction closed, is either slouching toward insolvency or not, depending on how you vet its new owner’s recent comments.

But while there are a great many shiny things vying for our attention, the larger (and more boring) world of B2B software is going through a fascinating year. Recall that when COVID-19 first swept the world, there was doubt that tech companies would perform well. Those concerns were misplaced; as it turns out, businesses of all sizes still needed tech solutions to run their operations, meaning that while much of the economy suffered, tech companies picked up extra momentum.

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The market ran a bit too far with the idea last year, pushing valuations into the stratosphere and betting that a great number of smaller tech companies were the next Microsoft when in reality, the number of truly massive winners in a venture context will remain limited.

Regardless, valuations have come down and the growth reported by some public tech companies has decelerated. But looking at Q3 results, it’s not too hard to see elements of strength amid warnings from executives that the economy could remain rather wobbly in the coming quarters.

Investors are getting stricter with their marks this year, so we’re getting more granular. Today, let’s peek at some recent tech results — with a focus on gross retention — from companies that sell to big and small corporations alike. We’ll also weave in notes from a chat with the CEO of Appian the other week, as well as some new data from GGV about where SMBs intend to spend. This gives us a modestly well-rounded perspective on where the software market — which accounts for much of the larger tech industry itself — is today, and where it may be heading next year.