SNOW / CRWD: Parallels and Differences

Since I am working my way through CRWD and SNOW right now, I wanted to share some interesting parallels (and the different nuances) I found in both CCs.

On Enterprises holding steady:

CRWD:

  • […] net new ARR in Q3 was weighted more heavily toward our $1 million-plus customer cohort.
  • But in all the conversations that I’ve had, security remains still top of mind and top of budget for enterprise customers.
  • And I think that enterprise sales cycles increased a bit in Q2, and Q3 was consistent with that level.
  • In Q3, these larger customers continue to prioritize their CrowdStrike investments, but some also had to manage timing issues related to opex budgets and cash flow amid the rapidly evolving macro. To achieve this, some customers signed contracts that have multiphase subscription start dates, which pushes their expense and CrowdStrike’s ARR recognition into future quarters.

SNOW:

  • This shows the resiliency of Snowflake as enterprises continue to prioritize data operations.
  • But the U.S. verticals, large enterprises, doing extremely well.
  • In the quarter, we added 28 Global 2000 customers. Product revenue from the Global 2000 outpaced the company as a whole, growing 40% quarter over quarter. Global 2000 customers now represent over 40% of revenue.
  • I would say the only thing that’s really changed this quarter, and it’s a very small piece of our overall revenue is the SMB segment.

Bottom Line:

  • 90 % of SNOW’s revenue comes from enterprises. For CRWD I couldn’t find the respective number.
  • Enterprises seem to be much more resilient and less struck by budget cuts and freezes than SMBs.
  • Overall, SNOW seems to have the stronger Enterprise focus, sounds more confident and bullish and is not seeing changes in Enterprise Sales.
  • While CRWD is seeing some challenges in selling to larger customers (budgets, multi-phase subscriptions…), SNOW claims not to see any difference in selling to enterprises.

On SMBs struggling:

CRWD:

  • In our smaller, more transactional non-enterprise accounts, we saw customers increasingly delay purchasing decisions, with average days to close lengthening by approximately 11% and net new ARR contribution decreasing $15 million from Q2.
  • I think we’re going to see the SMB space. We’re going to see deals continue to be pushed out.

SNOW:

  • I would say the only thing that’s really changed this quarter, and it’s a very small piece of our overall revenue is the SMB segment. You’re really seeing a slowdown in consumption by those customers.
  • On SNOW revenue exposure to SMBs: It’s less than 10% – it’s right around 10%.

Bottom Line:

  • Both companies paint a clear picture: SMBs are struggling a lot and are negatively impacting revenue. SNOW is less affected; and they almost don’t seem to care about their 10% SMB exposure as they are busy running their “marathon”.
  • Seems like companies with heavy Enterprise customers focus (SNOW, DDOG) are doing better these times, but exceptions confirm the rule (BILL).

About relevance of the product & outlook

CRWD:

  • While the cybersecurity market is not immune to macro pressures, it is a mission-critical technology. The adversaries don’t stop. As detailed in our latest threat-hunting report, OverWatch observed a nearly 50% year-over-year increase in interactive intrusion campaigns.
  • […] we are still in the early innings of CrowdStrike’s growth journey.

SNOW:

  • And, you know, we’re now into the people that didn’t sign up early on. And their overriding sentiment is a sense of somewhat a fear of missing out. And they’re looking at us like we can’t be left behind, help us catch up.
  • They literally overriding sentiment is we’re afraid to be left behind. This is how important this is.
  • While we acknowledge the weakening global macro context, we remain resilient in terms of our results. We believe this resilience reflects the importance of data strategy in modern enterprises and institutions.

Bottom Line:

Both businesses are bullish towards their long-term goal. But I cannot help but notice:

CRWD is strongly leaning on general CyberSec tailwinds and increasing threats, while SNOW emphasizes on customers basically chasing them in fear and FOMO to catch up to the early adaptors.

And: they claim to remain resilient in their results. What a statement to make in times like these!


All in all, it is quite hard to make sense of anything in these crazy times. However, from what I’ve digested so far, I feel more confident about SNOW and will stick with it as one of my largest positions, while keeping CRWD just below 10 %* – let’s see what ZS and S earnings will reveal about the CyberSec space and how they compare to CRWD.

Fun Fact: CrowdStrike (George Kurtz and Burt Podbere) mentioned Macro 25-ish times, Marc Scarpelli and Frank Slootman only 5 times! Certainly not a reliable metric, but overall, I liked Snowflakes forward-looking, driven, on point and confident sentiment more than the macro-heavy touch of CRWD’s CC.

Food for thought: I am starting to wonder if consumption-based revenue models, which I generally consider more customer-friendly and flexible, are actually a strength in uncertain times. At least in conjunction with a great and mission-critical product. Because:

  • They provide more flexibility to customers (by default, not just through exception deals, discounts etc.)
  • These deals are less scary to sign in times like these (and credit systems even make usage across modules easy and frictionless and reduce very specific commitments)
  • Value is more easily perceived by the customer (pay only what you need)
  • It seems better for a business if customers save on usage, than if they churn completely.

*My investing decision is not based on these thoughts only; these are just some nuggets I wanted to share as they popped out to me going through both scripts pretty much in parallel.

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Very interesting observations Lisa. I’d agree with what you have observed. Just going through the ZScaler transcript right now though, interestingly enough 3 differences stand out.

  1. They hardly mentioned macro at all except in the Q&A in response to questions about macro

  2. They found smaller segments perform better than Enterprise this last quarter

  3. ZScaler stressed Fed business and FedRamp in a more significant way

Interestingly also neither Crowdstrike nor Snowflake feel any headwinds from the strong USD and feel any need to report in constant currency FX neutral terms. ZScaler which is far more globally diverse in revenues also didn’t mention this - in part probably because they all charge in USD.

So their like for like maybe a true comparison but in the case of ZScaler with diversified revenues globally I can’t help but think that it may put these USD charging companies at a disadvantage potentially against local currency priced competition.

Ant

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Wow, excellent thread; I hadn’t read yet as been super busy trying to catch up with all these reports!!

I echo many of your thoughts. One key difference that we must underscore is how much revenue for these companies is based on NEW customers. Of course new customers are ALWAYS important… but

Snowflake’s revenue in a particular year (90% or so) is from pre-existing customers. Some may be starting to ramp but they signed on way back.

CRWD didn’t provide these numbers but certainly is much more reliant upon new customers in a particular year for revenue growth than Snowflake is.

Another difference, the difference between what a large and small customer pay on SNOW is likely a much larger gap than on CRWD.

FWIW,
ZScaler indicated their split in Q1 is 50:50 and expect 40:60 (40 new customers, 60 UPSELL)

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Thank you for your perspectives!

I definitely agree, this quarter it is really hard to make sense of anything or find a pattern, with ZS claiming their smaller customers performing strong…

Also, great point about SNOW now materializing (and benefitting) from their past achievements and deals - that is very important to keep in mind.

For what it’s worth, here are some more extensive notes I got from SNOW after going through their results in more depth:

CC Notes

  • New product Snowpark for Python has recently been announced for general availability (previously it was just on preview), and 6-X-ed adoption.
    • The product is heavily used by Data Engineers, Data Scientists and Application Developers who collaborate and build applications, data pipelines etc. on top of the same single copy of your data, while natively supporting everyone’s programming language of choice.
    • With Python added to the supported languages, the demand is very high, since Python is the main programming language used in Data Science and one of the most popular ones in general.
    • Sathish Balakrishnan, Director of Data Engineering, NerdWallet: “Snowflake’s continued investments in Python allow us the flexibility to code in our programming language of choice, and accelerate the speed of innovation for our end users.
  • Push on the Streamlit integration, which will allow developers to create applications with Python using their data in Snowflake, deploy and run these applications on Snowflake’s secure and governed platform, and share their applications with business teams to further unlock the value of data and ML models. (see announcement)
    • Earlier next year, we will offer native Streamlit integration in private preview. With Streamlit, we’re helping developers and data engineers build applications in Snowflake. Since acquisition, the Streamlit community has grown more than 60% and now has approximately 70,000 developers. (from CC)
    • Sai Ravuru, GM Data Science & Analytics, JetBlue. “With Snowflake’s Streamlit integration, we can go from data to ML-insights all within the Snowflake ecosystem, where our data is already present, making it easier and more secure for us to create impactful applications to further mitigate the negative impact of flight disruptions, provide more predictability to our operational planning teams, and more customer personalization to give our customers the best possible experience.
  • Further improvements and innovations in pipeline streaming, e.g. in the area of monitoring, logging.
  • Additionally, they continuously push for performance and cost optimizations, which benefit Snowflake and customers alike (since SNOW passes them on to customers).
  • Strong adoption of their data clean room technology (especially in their advertising vertical, but increasingly in other industries, too).
    • What is a data clean room? A data clean room provides aggregated and anonymized user information to protect user privacy, while providing advertisers with non-personally identifiable information to target a specific demographic and for audience measurement.
  • Very nice focus on their currently most successful verticals, financial industry, healthcare, media and retail, e.g. by providing specific data cloud products for each vertical (this strategy is also mirrored by their marketing efforts). Strong customer centricity is one of SNOW’s superpowers.
    • Snowflake continues to deepen and strengthen its industry orientation. We expect to understand our customer challenges, solve their problems, and speak their language. Leading industries for Snowflake are financial services; advertising, media and entertainment; followed by retail and consumer packaged goods, technology, and healthcare and life sciences.
  • Strategy Data Marketplace listings: Our strategy is a global data sharing network, coupled with unlimited workload enablement. Listing were 1.702, up from 1.539 and growing 84% YoY
  • 22% of their customers have at least 1 stable edge, meaning they regularly share data with another business. This, again, creates network effects.
  • Pure confidence: While we acknowledge the weakening global macro context, we remain resilient in terms of our results. We believe this resilience reflects the importance of data strategy in modern enterprises and institutions.
  • Strong enterprise focus:
    • With a focus on the acquisition and growth of the largest enterprises in the world, we added 28 Global 2000 customers in the quarter, our largest quarterly addition in the last five periods.
    • This shows the resiliency of Snowflake as enterprises continue to prioritize data operations.
    • It’s the quality of new customers. We tend to focus very much on the largest enterprises. And Global 2000 is one of the metrics that we give, but it’s not just Global 2000. It’s large public sector clients, as well as a lot of the big private companies in the world as well, too.
  • Really strong network effects through:
    • But definitely, we are seeing the network effect. And it’s really the data sharing is one of the things that – things that is driving that.
    • Powered b program:
      • Powered by Snowflake program scales over 6x year-over-year as of July 31, 2022, fueling new innovations (see here).
      • SNOW announced at its Snowday 2022 event, the final San Francisco stop on its Data Cloud World Tour, continued growth across the Data Cloud ecosystem, driven in part by Snowflake’s cloud, data provider, services, technology, and Powered by Snowflake partners, alongside its customers.
      • The strong partner network in general, but also the Powered by Program, which allows companies to build their business on top of SNOW’s Data Cloud in a cost and resource-efficient way, poses very strong network effects.
      • Powered By is - again - available and SNOW-s main industry verticals
      • Powered by customers grew from 590 to 709 from last quarter and 300-ish % YoY
  • On competition: […] co*mpetitive dynamic, you know, is substantially unchanged. […] I think the balance of partnership versus competition shifts, you know, marginally from one period to the next. I think we’ve set publicly that, you know, our partnership with AWS Amazon has been incrementally stronger and less competitive over time and that continues. Microsoft has been healthy and with Google GCP, you know, has been about the same. Most of our competitive reality, if you will, is really dominated by the public cloud companies, and that’s been true, you know, for as long as we’ve been here.*
  • Still experience very strong demand, especially also from the later adaptors: And their overriding sentiment is a sense of somewhat a fear of missing out. And they’re looking at us like we can’t be left behind, help us catch up. And a lot of times, the challenges around that are based on their ability to harness the technology in terms of the skills and the expertise. […] They literally overriding sentiment is we’re afraid to be left behind. This is how important this is.

Fundamentals

  • Topline growth slowed down, but still quite strong comparatively:
    • Product Revenue 67,3% YoY, down from 83,1% last quarter.
    • Usually Beat around 6%, this quarter 3%
  • Guidance: Q4 - I expect 55% YoY (3% beat), and they guided for 50-ish YoY growth for FY 2024 (without beat priced in from my side)
    • They also mentioned that Q4 can be tough with upcoming holidays, since 70% of revenue depends on human interaction
  • Decreased S&M spend lightly and added to slightly to R&D, GA a bit more efficient
  • Slowed down but still quite strong deferred revenue (57,9%, down from 63,1% in Q2) and sequentially accelerating RPO (66,5%, down from 77,6% in Q2)
  • Improved gross profit all over the place (GAAP, Non-GAAP, Non-GAAP Product gross profit)
    • They also mentioned to focus on profitability, when topline growth is a bit weaker than usual
  • Improved Non-GAAP product gross margin from 75,1% to 75,3% in Q3, respectively
  • Improved customer add across all fronts:
    • All customers: 7.292, up from 6.808 (up 34% YoY)
    • G2K Customers: 543, up from 515 in Q2 and up 17,5% YoY (record in 5 periods!)
    • 1Mio+ cohort: 287, up from 246 in Q2 and up close to 94% YoY
  • Improved profitability again (Non-GAAP adjusted product FCF) from $58,65 in Q2, to $65
  • Their net retention rate fell from 175% o 165%. Still, world-class level.
  • What a TAM! They estimate the market to be addressed by the Data Cloud to $248 in 2026.

Bottom Line

Similarly to DDOG, I have very strong confidence in SNOW’s overall strategy. Again, including a powerful and mission-critical product (at least, for businesses that rely on data processing at their core), strong execution and pronounced customer centricity (as seen in development of highly relevant products with strong demand, vertical-specific products and Marketing, as well as them passing on cost and performance optimizations to customers directly). Like all other companies, SNOW is somewhat impacted by macro, but they seem to not care too much about it and focus on innovation, customer centricity, S&M and profitability.

Slootman bursts in confidence (sorry, gotta quote that again): While we acknowledge the weakening global macro context, we remain resilient in terms of our results. We believe this resilience reflects the importance of data strategy in modern enterprises and institutions.

Additionally, SNOW pursues high quality, high impact enterprise customers and is on a mission to “help mobilize the world’s data.” While I anticipate a conservative Q4 given all the holidays and uncertainty, I believe strongly in SNOW’s long-term vision and bias to execution.

Good luck to all of you & have a wonderful weekend!
Lisa

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I really like this point, that the Global 2000 is only a public companies list

Snowflake is already known to have enormous private companies as its customers such as Fidelity investment, liberty mutual, TIAA etc
These three examples are HUGE customers with $24 to 50 BILLION in revenue each year and have massive amounts of data to warehouse, and ridiculously large budgets to spend on snowflake over time, but these customers don’t show up on G2000 lists

I don’t think it can be emphasized enough how SNOW’s customers can spend way more than a big ZS, CRWD or DDOG client etc.
You have ZScaler bragging from quarter to quarter about their largest customer wins spending $10 million

Meanwhile SNOW casually mentions on calls about $100 million contracts: “we did sign a $100 million contract in the quarter, again, with an existing customer on renewal, and we will have $100 million plus contracts this quarter in Q4 with customers that I know are running out of credits and want to lock in for long term.

And not only that, SNOW keeps saying they haven’t yet seen saturation in any of their largest customers, such as Capital One still growing spend even at $40+million a year.

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There was a great quote from the SNOW CFO at the Barclay’s Technology conference (below). I think it really drives home the point JW made about SNOW making companies money, which is more valuable right now than just saving a client money.

Question from Unidentified Analyst:

Yes, the machines are doing it. Yes, okay. No, that’s interesting. On that note in terms if you – with the consumption model, you see all these new clients coming up, how do you think about like the current uncertain macro environment? Because like in theory you would think like – remember you probably attired all these investor calls we had over the summers like consumption model, less economic activity, things come down, but you have so many ramping customers that kind of lead out, they’re like, how do you feel about those, the environment and your goal there?

Answer from Mike Scarpelli (bolding mine):

If I had such a massive market share, I would be more concerned. We are still very much in the growth phase and the early innings of migrations with customers. And what I would say is what you need to be able to do when you have challenging economic times is be able to sell on value. And it’s not just a cost replacement. It’s what the value you are driving. And data is becoming one of the core assets of most companies today. Whether you are a media advertising company or financial institution, getting real-time data and insights into your business is pretty important piece to companies. And we are getting data. There is one large oil and gas company. We sold them $3 million worth of Snowflakes they have consumed. And they themselves have said they see $30 million in value.

Best,
BTL

@laneylawyer
Long SNOW

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@laneylawyer Something that really struck me last month when I listened to DDOG’s Nov 15 RBC investor conference was what they said about how they ultimately have to remain, in my view, ‘passive’ in their market:

DDOG:
…what we can’t control really is, we can’t control ultimately the expansion rate of our clients.
We can put a lot in front of them to make them want to consolidate on us, buy more products.
But if they’re rationalizing or slowing down their projects, we have to modulate with them because we don’t do the migration. We monitor the migrations and workloads.

DDOG can optimize their products to be best in class, but ultimately, they are at the mercy of the customer’s desire to shift to the cloud. DDOG can’t convince customers to do more on the cloud. Nobody ever says they are moving to the cloud because want an observability product!

But when you look at SNOW…there are customers who are migrating to the cloud BECAUSE they want to use Snowflake.
They want Snowflake in order to make more money, cut costs, increase efficiencies in their business.
There are customers whose entire business is BUILT upon SNOW from the ground up.

In my opinion - it means SNOW can better shape its trajectory during a challenging macroeconomic environment than DDOG. This is what separates SNOW from the other high growth SaaS out there!

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Very true - Snowflake’s value proposition remains during a macro slowdown. Conversely - it does mean that Datadog could hold the potential for re-acceleration after the current macro malaise more than others which is intriguing given the strength of its current growth rates.

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