What is data management company Databricks really worth?

March 8, 2023, 12:22 PM UTC

Buy now, pay later giant Klarna has been one of several casualties as 2022 sent valuations plunging back to earth. 

Klarna CEO and co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski called it a “shift in investor sentiment” in the company’s annual report it filed last week: Where once investors were laser-focused on growth—now they expect profitability. 

As Klarna reported an operating loss of about $1 billion for the 2022 calendar year, the fintech finds itself worth about 85% less than it was in 2021. That’s despite 19% year-over-year revenue growth and 150 million users, stats that likely would have made venture capitalists proud a mere two years ago.

Several high-profile decacorns have been embattled in layoffs and valuation trims, though Klarna is the only one to have a formal liquidity event. Stripe, for example, is reportedly looking to raise new capital at a valuation of $55 billion to $60 billion, down from some $95 billion in 2021. Shein is reportedly in talks to raise new funding at $64 billion, a 36% trim from last April. And Instacart has cut its own valuation internally to about $10 billion, down from $39 billion in 2021.

So what is the data management software company Databricks worth these days?

I asked CEO Ali Ghodsi that question, for a recent feature story I wrote for Fortune. He says Databricks has lowered its internal 409A valuation by approximately 10% below its last formal fundraise in August 2021, when it was deemed to be worth $38 billion. It’s an adjustment, indeed, though quite the modest one relative to the share prices of some of its high-valued peers.

As I wrote in my recent story, it’s hard to say how that figure would stand up in today’s market, should Databricks need to go back and fundraise. 

For one, Databricks has reported strong growth metrics as it rides the A.I. boom, with its data platform being used by companies from CVS to Microsoft to Shell to power the development of machine learning tools that can be used internally across the rest of those organizations. In 2021, Databricks reported revenue of $600 million. Last year, when Databricks had adjusted its financial models to report run rate, rather than ARR, it said in August that it had crossed the $1 billion annual run rate threshold, and the company says it surpassed a 70% annualized growth rate at that time. 

But if Databricks is profitable, it isn’t saying so. And competitors like Snowflake or MongoDB, (both public data management and cloud storage companies that are running at net losses), are trading at more than 41% below what they were in August 2021, when Databricks was back in the market fundraising. 

Asset managers like Fidelity, BlackRock, and T. Rowe Price, which hold both private and public equities in some of their mutual funds, have marked down the price of their Databricks shares to represent somewhere between a $24 billion to $31 billion valuation, with BNY Mellon pricing Databricks as low as $15 billion, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings and data compiled by Caplight, a private market company data provider.

“Who knows what we would be worth if we were public,” Ghodsi says.

A16z’s Ben Horowitz, who led Databricks’ Series A, and has participated in every financing round since, says Databricks has been growing so quickly that it doesn’t really matter that valuations are coming down, and estimates that the valuation figure probably hasn’t changed by much. “It’s right in that neighborhood,” Horowitz says, referring to Databricks’ last formal fundraising round. “Until you do a round, you’re not so sure, but it’s right there, yeah.”

The data management company’s valuation may not matter too much—so long as the company has enough capital to outlast the need of another fundraise before the IPO market reopens. For its part, Databricks says it isn’t fundraising: It claims it is sitting on $2 billion on its balance sheet and that its growth strategy is fully funded. 

Clearly, some companies have been able to maintain their strong valuations—and the last two weeks of Term Sheet newsletters are proof that companies are still fundraising hundreds of millions.

You can read all about Databricks’ growth explosion and why Ben Horowitz backed the company despite their terrible first pitch deck in my feature here

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
Email: jessica.mathews@fortune.com
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