Controversial meme token Shiba Inu (SHIB 1.08%) hit a 2022 low of $0.000019 per token in January, but it has since rocketed back up by 63% to a price of $0.000031 as of Friday morning. While that's a big return in a short time, it's nothing compared to Shiba Inu's 43,800,000% rise in 2021. An initial investment of just $2.29 in the token on Jan. 1 would've made you a millionaire, had you held on until the end of the year.
It's basically impossible to achieve a return of anything approaching that magnitude again from Shiba Inu's current price, and the risks of attempting it might outweigh any potential rewards. Consider as well that the meme token is still down year to date, and down by about 65% from its October peak. That's why three Motley Fool contributors think growth stocks C3.ai (AI -3.13%), DigitalOcean (DOCN -0.12%), and Datadog (DDOG 0.31%) are far better investments for your money now.
Artificial intelligence for all industries
Anthony Di Pizio (C3.ai): This first-of-its-kind enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) company offers a suite of ready-made applications that can be rapidly customized to meet the needs of businesses in any industry.
Right now, for example, the oil and gas industry provides 35% of C3.ai's revenue. Companies in that sector have found that using its technology allows them to deploy applications 18 to 100 times faster than building them from scratch, which spares them the cost burden of having bloated teams of highly specialized talent in-house. It's increasingly important because those companies are using C3.ai's applications to predict potentially catastrophic system failures and to reduce their carbon emissions, among other things.
The company also has the backing of tech behemoths like Microsoft (MSFT 0.87%) and Alphabet (GOOG 1.66%) (GOOGL 1.69%), which collaborate with C3.ai through their cloud services divisions to streamline the development of AI applications to better serve a swath of different industries.
Since its fiscal 2019 (which ended April 30, 2019), C3.ai has grown its customer base by 395%, from 21 to 104. And over the last 12 months alone, it has doubled the number of industries it serves, from seven to 14. The result of that growth is expected to be revenue of $249 million for fiscal 2022, according to analysts' estimates.
If Shiba Inu reclaims its all-time high price of $0.000089 per token from here, that would be a gain of 187%. However, one analyst thinks C3.ai stock could soar by more than 300% in the next 12 months, so in my view, it's a much better pick.
Riding the waves of transformation
Jamie Louko (DigitalOcean): DigitalOcean is benefiting from the tailwinds of two major trends today: the transition to the cloud and the rise of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). There are 100 million SMBs globally today, and this figure is expected to rise by 14 million annually. Having a presence in the cloud is becoming not just a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have for businesses of all sizes, and DigitalOcean is helping SMBs easily move their digital footprints away from on-premises systems and into the cloud.
DigitalOcean's platform makes intricate cloud solutions easy to understand even for non-expert developers who might drown in the complexity of Amazon's (AMZN 1.25%) AWS offering. The company also has a community of developers who provide tutorials on the basic skills needed to deploy cloud applications. Other cloud services providers don't put as much focus on catering to the needs of non-cloud experts -- most of the revenue that AWS and the other behemoths in the industry bring in comes from large enterprises that already have cloud experts on staff. So DigitalOcean has quickly become the place that SMBs go to develop and run cloud applications.
With this role, it has seen impressive adoption. The company has nearly 600,000 SMB customers and $455 million in annual recurring revenue -- up 36% year over year. Established customers are also increasing their use of DigialOcean's offerings: For every $100 that the average client spent on its services in Q3 2020, they spent $116 in Q3 2021. That impressive revenue retention rate has helped it edge toward profitability. The company's net loss in Q3 was just $1.8 million -- equal to 1.6% of revenue -- but its free cash flow of $29 million can easily subsidize this.
DigitalOcean is unrivaled in its efforts to cater to the cloud needs of SMBs, and with major tailwinds propelling it forward, it looks like it could be wildly successful for the next decade. Potential competitors like AWS could try to compete in its niche, but the risk-reward ratio for Amazon would be too high. AWS often deals with multibillion-dollar customers; developing personalized, simple tools for SMBs that could outcompete DigitalOcean's would be an expensive -- and potentially unsuccessful -- effort. So, for now, DigitalOcean dominates its niche, and has an unhindered path forward in an industry growing 27% annually.
AI-powered performance monitoring
Trevor Jennewine (Datadog): Time is money in the business world, and when critical systems go down, it can have a material impact on an organization's finances. Datadog helps its clients prevent those types of problems. Its observability platform integrates with more than 500 different technologies, ingesting data from across the IT ecosystem and helping clients ensure their applications, networks, and infrastructure are secure and performing properly.
Datadog's platform is cloud agnostic, meaning it can be deployed across private data centers, public clouds, and hybrid cloud environments. That breadth allows it to capture over 10 trillion data points each day, and it leans on artificial intelligence to surface insights, identify problems, and reduce the time it takes to resolve them. Thanks to all of this, Datadog has become a key enabler of businesses' digital transformations, which has fueled impressive financial results.
Over the past year, the company continued to execute on its land-and-expand growth strategy. Its customer count rose by 35% to 14,170, and as of the end of 2021, 33% of those customers were using four or more of its products, up from 22% at the end of 2020. As a result, revenue soared 70% to $1.03 billion in 2021, and while the company is still losing money on a GAAP basis, free cash flow skyrocketed 201% to $250.5 million. More importantly, Datadog has plenty of room for growth.
The company puts its addressable market at $42 billion in 2022, but believes that figure will rise to $53 billion by 2025 as enterprises continue to invest in digital transformation. On that note, management has consistently demonstrated its ability to execute and expand the business, most recently with its successful push into cloud security. And with established customers using more products over time, their switching costs are rising, making it more difficult for them to cut ties with Datadog. That's why this stock looks like a smart long-term investment, especially when compared to a meme token like Shiba Inu.