7 Notable SaaS Acquisitions to Inspire your Digital Product UX and UI Design

By Hans Lambert Pedersen

Provide an unbeatable software as a service (SaaS) solution, and your start-up might become a $1 billion+ unicorn. Discover what makes an irresistible acquisition for venture capitalists with these seven SaaS unicorn examples.

There is an old saying in the business world, “money talks”.

In recent years, we’ve seen some mega SaaS unicorn acquisitions. Whether venture capital (VC) funding is to “remove the competition” or provide an exciting catalyst for business growth, it all comes down to two core design principles – unbeatable user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).

The question is, what’s the key to mastering a marketable and sellable UX and UI?

Read on to discover seven inspirational SaaS acquisitions that could pave the way for your digital product.

What are SaaS unicorns?

Commonly known across the VC sector, the term “unicorn” is a title assigned to a privately held company with a valuation of over $1 billion. The SaaS acronym means “software as a service” and involves a software platform available to users online via a third party.

Some popular SaaS platforms include:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • FreshBooks
  • Paychex
  • Google Workplace
  • Xero

SaaS platforms become unicorns from start-ups because they outperform their competition across UI and UX. Sometimes they offer what the competition doesn’t have or exceed expectations with greater ease and simplicity

By trying to improve their software and keep up with the competition, some digital products develop “feature creep” by adding excessive features to flawed UX and UI design.

The common theme with many “$1 billion+ SaaS unicorns are simplistic and effective UX and UI design that the market doesn’t just want but needs.

Give investors something they can’t refuse, and with their financial backing, they will want to snap up your SaaS solution for a pretty penny.

To inspire your hard work and dedication to this cause, here are seven examples of SaaS unicorns that have made the unicorn grade and how they did it.

1. Figma – Adobe-$20 billion acquisition

In 2022, Adobe secured its largest-ever acquisition by purchasing a collaborative web platform for interface design, Figma

With Figma’s specialist software support and Adobe’s financial backing, Adobe is now looking to deliver creative cloud technologies online. The purchase was met with some scepticism as murmurings of debate between “acquired tool vs market elimination” proceeded the news.  

But whatever side the true intention for the investment falls, the acquisition was built on the fact that Figma had a software platform that Adobe could not replicate. As with anything in the software and technology industry, “the cream always rises to the top.” 

2. Qualtrics – SAP-$8 billion acquisition  

In 2018, SAP paid Utah Tech unicorn Qualtrics $8 billion for their emerging market experience software tool. The breakthrough tool allowed brands to receive qualitative and quantitative product feedback.

With Qualtrics, businesses can create, send, and analyse surveys within one convenient cloud location. Riding the wave of consumer feedback, Qualtrics allowed brands to optimise their services, products, and overall experiences by creating and capturing customer and employee data before storing it in a single, simple system.  

3. GitHub – Microsoft-$7.5 billion acquisition

Tech giants Microsoft know unbeatable UX and UI when they see it. In 2018, Microsoft paid GitHub $7.5 billion for their SaaS platform

GitHub’s development platform provides an internet hosting service with access control, bug tracking, software feature requests, task management, continuous integration, and wikis for every project. 

After this acquisition, Microsoft was able to deliver developer tools and services to new audiences. Since the purchase, GitHub has soared by 70%.

4. Blue Yonder – Panasonic-$7.1 billion acquisition

In 2021, tech titans Panasonic acquired American software and consultancy company Blue Yonder for $7.1 billion. Blue Yonder is a global industry leader in supply chain transformation and omnichannel commerce fulfilment.

What many distinguished as an acquisition resulting from the pandemic in 2020, this SaaS unicorn enables Panasonic to boost its shared autonomous supply chain to help customers optimise with AI/ML, IoT, and edge devices. It’s a real game-changer.

5. SendGrid – Twilio-$3 billion acquisition

Providing a complete platform for every form of customer engagement was Twilio’s motive for buying SendGrid for $3 billion in 2019.

Twilio claims with this acquisition, developers and businesses have “access to the single, best-in-class platform to manage all important communication channels”.

SendGrid is a leading API (Application Programming Interface) enabling brands to send emails without maintaining email servers by managing all technical aspects, from scaling to ISP outreach and reputation analysis with real-time analytics.

6. A Cloud Guru – Pluralsight-$2 billion acquisition

In 2021, US technology workforce brand, Plural Sight, purchased Aussie start-up, A Cloud Guru for $2 billion. With over 2.5 million people on the platform, Cloud Guru is an online training provider helping people learn cloud-based IT.

Pluralsight can now accelerate its push to cure the current cloud skills gap in the industry with Cloud Guru’s bespoke learning experience for all IT levels. 

7. MuleSoft – Salesforce-$1 billion acquisition

Salesforce decided to purchase MuleSoft in 2018 for its integration capabilities linking corporate IT infrastructures of one company with another alongside uniting apps and databases within global B2B systems.

MuleSoft’s most prominent feature is the “Anypoint” API Manager (API Manager). Anypoint enables brands to manage, govern, and secure APIs with seamless results.

Now, Salesforce can easily incorporate its operations and functionality into existing systems. 

Speak to UX and UI design specialists

What any aspiring digital product designer can learn from this list of SaaS unicorns is the increasing demand for effective UI and UX within remote, cloud-based software capabilities.

From niche supply chain e-commerce solutions to wide-reaching IT learning platforms, a successful SaaS unicorn finds acquisition when it exceeds the competition with a solution too powerful and lovable to refuse.

If you believe you have a digital product concept ahead of the curve, outperforming the competition and with unbeatable UX, it might be time to call in the experts.

Get in touch with our team today, and we’ll work with you to transform your innovative ideas into a reality.