After some 20 years in the private markets, SurveyMonkey (NASDAQ:SVMK) went public a few weeks ago. In this clip from Industry Focus: Tech, host Dylan Lewis and Fool.com contributor Evan Niu answer a listener question about SurveyMonkey's moat (or lack thereof), and whether the company caters more to the business-to-business or business-to-consumer crowd. Listen in to find out what the answers say about the company's underlying business.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Oct. 5, 2018.
Dylan Lewis: We did have one helpful listener question, though. I want to praise Austin Lieberman for asking this because I appreciate it when people reach out with real, legitimate questions, Chris Hill.
Austin asks, "Do they have a moat? Seems like there are many other free options. Also, are they mostly B2B or mostly B2C?" His question here really hits on something that we touched on earlier, this idea that they named Google in their risks. Probably the other surveying tool that people are most familiar with is Google Forms, to your point earlier, Evan.
Evan Niu: Right. I think that's the thing that's really at the crux of it. I don't see them having this really strong competitive advantage. As far as B2B vs. B2C, as we were talking about with some of these numbers before, they fall in somewhere in the middle. They have a lot of people that use it for business purposes, but they don't have that much of a need for all these high-end options. They just get these individual accounts, and that's perfectly fine. That's all they need to do. But they're still using it for business. It's a weird mix them all of the above. They're in the middle of the spectrum of business customers or individual consumers.
Lewis: Yeah. When I look at this business, I see what is, I think, really a feature or a very limited use case tool for a lot of the people that are using it. On the low end, you see that Google Forms could easily come in. It's just a feature that they've built into all of the other Google account functionality that they have. Granted, it's much more limited in what it can do than some of the more advanced features on SurveyMonkey, but still. Then, you go to the high end, and where I think SurveyMonkey wants to be on the enterprise side. If they're doing stuff that's a little bit more about employee engagement or market research, well, there's a lot of HR companies that are in that space, and are probably building some form of surveying into a tool that also does payroll, also does accounts receivable, does all these other things for a business. I worry with them that they are squished at both ends of that market.
Niu: Right, and it's not really possible for them to expand into the deep HR software space or CRM space. Those companies are much more likely to tack on this free survey stuff as an add-on to their platforms, which are much more important than a survey platform trying to expand into these other critical functions of a business.
Lewis: Yeah, absolutely. To Austin's question about B2B vs. B2C, you hit on this a little bit, this is very much the land and expand model that they are using. We saw it with Dropbox, it's similar here. They are using individuals with personal accounts to get in the door. Then, the idea is, when these needs come about with a business, that individual, that user, will be the advocate for this service, because they've used it, they know it, the functionality is great. So, they are this hybrid, like you mentioned. It makes it hard to put them into an individual box. It also makes it a little tougher to know where their most desirable market is.
Niu: I mean, if anything, what it tells me is that the individual plans that are more affordable are perfectly good enough for most of these business use cases that they envision trying to upsell people to. Clearly, given these numbers I mentioned earlier, they don't have a strong value proposition for these enterprise organizational accounts. These individual features are perfectly fine. So, I think they do face an uphill battle with these upsells.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Dylan Lewis owns shares of GOOGL. Evan Niu, CFA has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GOOGL and GOOG. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.