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A Summary of

16 Startup Metrics

Jeff Jordan, Anu Hariharan, Frank Chen, Preethi Kasireddy
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Good metrics help run a startup in a way where founders know how and why certain things are working, and can adjust accordingly.

Bookings vs revenue

  • The value of a contract vs. when the service is actually provided 

Recurring vs total revenue

  • Investors prefer product revenue over service revenue because it has higher margins and is more scalable 

Gross profit

  • Shows how profitable the revenue stream is 

Total contract value vs annual contract value

  • This tells you how big contracts are, and if contract sizes are growing

Life time value (LTV)

  • Present value of future net profit from customer 
  • Higher LTV suggests ability to spend more on CAC 

Gross merchandise value vs. revenue

  • Total sales dollar volume through marketplace vs. portion of GMV that the marketplace receive 

Deferred revenue and billings

  • Billings adds deferred revenue from prior quarter to the current quarter 
  • Billings are a better forward-looking indicator for SaaS companies  

Customer acquisition cost

  • Paid CAC gives a better sense of how well marketing campaigns are working vs. Blended CAC which includes organically acquired customers 

Active users

  • Be clear on how you define “active” users 

Month on month growth

  • Using compounded monthly grows rates measures periodic growth and helps compare growth rates


  • Gross churn estimates actual loss to business  

Burn rate

  • Investors look at net burn because it gives a better sense of how long the money you have left will last.


  • Investors want to see engagement metrics such as DAU, MAU, photos shared etc, over downloads 

Cumulative charts

  • Investors prefer monthly chart to assess growth in early stage businesses 

Chart tricks

  • A few common tricks include not labelling y axis or shrinking scale to exaggerate growth 

Order of operations

  • Once investors know the size of the business, they want to understand the growth 
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