Mathrubootham, who hails from a middle-class background in Trichy, has often said he was always an average student, but had an unquenchable thirst to learn and teach, qualities that honed his skills as a master story teller.
A couple of months ago, this reporter asked Freshworks founder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham if he would also offer BMW bikes to hire engineers, something that fin tech BharatPe had announced, amidst the intense war for tech talent. “No, we will equip them so that they can buy it on their own”, he responded, without hesitation.
It seems like he may have pulled it off with Freshworks’ Nasdaq listing. Its stellar market debut hasn’t only enriched Mathrubootham and early investors such as Accel and Sequoia but also hundreds of Freshworks employees, who are now millionaires.
“Our employees are also our shareholders. This IPO has allowed me an opportunity to fulfil my responsibility as a CEO to early shareholders- both VC investors and employees who have believed in the dream of Freshworks. We needed all the trust and belief that the early employees and investors who joined us and believed in the dream. As CEO, it is immensely fulfilling for me to finish my responsibility as I take on the new responsibility of public investors who have now invested in the future of Freshworks,” Mathrubootham said in an interview with Moneycontrol hours after ringing the Nasdaq bell.
“76 percent of our employees hold shares, the number was even higher at 90 percent but because we have been hiring so many people recently it is 76 percent. For our employees in India, we have more than 500 crorepatis and 70 of them are under the age of 30. They passed out of college a few years ago and they fully deserve it,” he added.
Business software maker Freshworks made its trading debut on September 22 at $43.5 per share on Nasdaq, up 21 percent from the company’s listing price of $36 per share, giving the company a market cap of $12.3 billion.
Freshworks, which is the first Indian software-as-a-service firm to go public on the US stock exchange, was last valued at $3.5 billion when it raised $150 million financing from investors like Sequoia Capital, CapitalG and Accel in November 2019.
“I feel like an Indian athlete who has won a gold medal at the Olympics. We are showing the world what a global product company from India can achieve. The fact that we are doing it first in the US markets is truly amazing. Today is day zero for Freshworks all over again and the beginning of so much more” said Freshworks cofounder Girish Mathrubootham during the bell ringing ceremony.
Freshworks plans to use the proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, including working capital, operating expenses, and capital expenditures. It may also use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire complementary businesses, products, services, or technologies.
This public offering comes amid increased digitisation and growing adoption for remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen SaaS IPOs in the US have performed spectacularly, popping (rising sharply) and creating billionaires overnight. The listings of Snowflake, Zoom, Cloudflare and Palantir has also sparked a new wave of enthusiasm from venture capitalists, private equity funds and hedge funds.
Founded in 2010 by Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnasamy as Freshdesk, the company rebranded as Freshworks in 2017. It counts the likes of Accel, Sequoia Capital, and Tiger Global among its investors. It claims to have over 52,500 customers as of August 31.