With DocuSign losing more than 1/3 of its value in the market, Monkey, who holds a tiny little position left over from the good-ol-days of COVID lock-downs, remembers reading the following over and over again:
“The world is not going back to paper.”
Which appears to remain true.
But it also now appears to be completely irrelevant with regard to how successful investment in DOCU might be going forward.
So the sincere question is: when making the case for DocuSign, did it ever really matter that the world is never going back to paper?
Or is the rate of growth the only thing that really truly matters anymore? To which Monkey has a follow-up: doesn’t that bring us a bit closer to market-timing?
Let’s consider that world is never going back to paper, and that Docusign is by far the leader in all things e-signature + bells and whistles with their 121 NDR, and still has a huge swath of international expansion to get to, but the CEO is also saying we’re going back to normal spending patterns, and that next quarter’s growth is only a few percent.
Is this exactly the Zoom problem? That the product is so good, and grew so fast, that there are fewer customers who don’t already use it?
In which case, the world never going back to paper is irrelevant; more relevant is that e-signatures has a limited audience, and DOCU captured most of it very quickly, and the market confused “never going back to paper” with infinite paper to never go back to, when in reality, it was quite finite.
So if rates of growth are almost all that matter in this context, ought we not be careful making our original thesis statements? The fact that the world is never going back to paper appears, in hindsight, irrelevant; the good times could never have lasted.
Or, to play devil’s advocate, is this just a short vs. long term framing problem? And because the world is never going back to paper, Docusign will remain a growing company but over a much longer time frame, and what mattered was not buying the stock when the market expected 50% growth forever? Which brings Monkey right back to the unpleasantly smelling arena of “market timing”?
This problem seems to affect most companies now–expect, apparently cyber security and data, because in a sense, those two realms are as close to “infinite” now and in the future. Hence the success of SNOW + DDOG + ZS + CRWD.
But now consider MNDY: they are growing 200+%. And let’s imagine we say “the working world is never gong back to sticky notes and pens and paper.” Which very well might be correct. But what if the 200% growth has gobbled up, like Zoom and Docu, a huge swath of its buyers at a very high rate, and some upcoming quarter, maybe not the next one, or the one after that, we’ll be right back in DOCU + ZM land: workOs is here to stay, but the rate of Monday’s fast growth was its own worst enemy, investing-wise. Making “workOS is here to stay” irrelevant as a thesis statement.
Are we now essentially market timers focusing on rate of growth, hoping to get in at the early part of the “S” and out close to the peak of the hockey stick? Are statements like “the world is never going back to paper” irrelevant?
Just thinking out loud,
Monkey, long a tiny bit of DOCU
(@cxddesign on twitters)