The DatoCMS Blog

A look back at 2023

Posted on December 12th, 2023 by Stefano Verna

It's that time of year once more, where we carry on the tradition of reflecting on the previous year — what we've accomplished, what has evolved, and what lies ahead for us in the future.

Previous editions are here: 2022, 2021, 2020.

Revenue numbers: consistent (and predictable) growth

Our recurring revenue at the end of the year will be approximately USD $4.5M, a growth of 31.81% over 2023.

The most intriguing aspect, however, is the striking linearity. Heck, if I were to draw a straight line by hand, I would probably make it less precise than this graph:

Straight outta fiction: our revenue growth, so real it's almost unreal

Speaking for myself, this is the epitome of company growth. It surpasses the revered hockey stick by a mile. Why? Because it offers predictability like no other. When 2023 rolled around, we knew exactly where we'd be. No surprises, no sudden jolts in business growth. It gives us the power to plan investments and hiring with precision.

If we segment the revenue coming from 2023 subscriptions, 56% is from our Professional plan, 34% is from Enterprise deals, and 9% is from our Agency Partner Program:

New ARR in 2023, segmented by plan

By 2024, we anticipate a notable rise in revenue from our Agency Partner Program. It's already seen substantial growth this year: in the last eight months, our partners have published over 210 projects, of which over 80 are featured on our website. With the undeniable advantages it brings to those who use DatoCMS consistently, there's no doubt it will continue to flourish.

Infrastructure: API and video traffic soar

If we talk about resource consumption and infrastructure load, we continue to grow like crazy:

  • Content Management and Delivery API: ~2B requests/month (+66% over last year)

  • Assets transformation API: ~3.7B requests/month (+46%, roughly 14TB of traffic/day)

On top of these numbers, throughout the year we have silently but relentlessly improved the performance of our APIs, which continue to be among the most optimized (and permissive in terms of query possibilities):

Here's a little taste of the improvements we're always dropping, without giving anyone a heads up 😜

Special mention has to be made to video streaming, which, thanks to the price reduction introduced in March, has literally exploded this year:

  • Streaming time: ~185k hours/month (+350% compared to 2022)

  • Overall views: ~4M views/month (x26 over last year! 💥)

We're thrilled about this boost! It shows that when the price is right, overlooked features can become instant hits.

Product Highlights: our favorite features and improvements

There are at least 6 huge new features that we are extremely proud to have rolled out this year:

  • Organizations make it finally easier — and more secure — to share ownership of projects with other team members;

  • With Deep Filtering and Inverse Relationships, our Content Delivery API allows you to retrieve all kinds of content in a single GraphQL request;

  • Per-locale publishing of records allows increasingly larger teams to manage editorial workflows freely;

  • Content Link is another step towards the possibility of working with content directly through preview — whether it's a website, in-store display, or anything you can point a browser at.

Overall, we shipped +45 new features and improvements. Here's just a small selection of our favorites from our changelog:

Expanding our Team: embracing growth and broadening horizons

In 2023, we made a bold move at DatoCMS. We expanded our team from 8 to 13 people, representing a remarkable 60% increase. This is also the first year in which we started hiring "tuples" — yes, that's what we call Dato employees — outside of Italy, transitioning from internal communications in Italian to English.

Nearly 9 years... who would have ever imagined it? 😳

Deciding to grow our team wasn't an easy choice. We value agility and focus, and adding more people can often slow things down and make work less enjoyable due to increased bureaucracy and communication overhead.

However, we've come to realize that DatoCMS is here for the long haul, whether we like it or not. As Peldi from Balsamiq aptly stated, every company has a natural size that it gravitates towards:

I remember being really mad about having to grow my company past 6 people: it's MY company, MY dream, shouldn't I have a say in how big MY company gets?? The answer, sadly, is no: if you don't build a company of the right "natural" size, someone else will.

Giacomo (Peldi) Guilizzoni

This year-long shift in mindset has transformed us from a startup mainly focused on the immediate and stubbornly clinging to the idea of staying small, to a company with an inevitable long-term perspective. It's like transitioning from a 100-meter sprint to running a marathon.

To truly embrace this perspective, we needed to establish a more resilient structure and delve into areas that have intrigued us but remained unexplored, such as user and customer research, positioning, and marketing.

The new hires align with this direction, gradually solidifying existing departments while also venturing into exciting new branches and initiatives.

Shape Up: streamlining product development

At the beginning of the year, we noticed an increased fatigue when it came to deciding which ideas to go after.

I'm pretty sure anyone in charge of an already pretty darn solid product faces this stage: on one side, a continuous flow of small improvement requests pouring in. On the other side, struggling to find a standout feature that would greatly benefit a large number of users. The outcome? A tendency to delay tackling significant projects, and instead getting caught up in minor adjustments and bugs. Not the wisest move for the future.

For this reason, we decided to shake things up, and try adopting the Shape Up framework. With its "no infinite backlog, important ideas come back" attitude, and a clear six-week cycle, it has really helped us a lot in regaining a rhythm in releases, and injecting new vitality into the idea selection phase.

Real-world example of a shaped idea that will soon be released (spoiler alert)🦄

Everyone is now very happy and impressed with our issue/bug correction response time, and the overall positive feedback on the amount of new features coming down the line is pretty much unanimous. Hooray!

The Future: What lies ahead

Armed with the talented individuals we've brought on board, we're now capable of doing a whole lot better:

  • We're still 1,000% committed to improving the experience for content creators and developers. I won't go into too much detail in this blog post, but we already have some exciting changes in the pipeline that we can't wait to share on January.

  • We'll be conducting specific and ongoing tests to truly understand how our product is being utilized, as well as your expectations and desires. The result will be a clearer and more focused roadmap than ever before.

  • We don't rely on VCs, so we can set our own pace and prioritize serving the needs of smaller businesses. Our product is self-service and designed to be "just-enough" for 99% of cases. The big question for 2024 is: how can we communicate that we're the CMS that caters to small and medium-sized businesses, while everyone else is chasing after big enterprise money?

  • Closely related to the point above: our previous communication lacked impact and character, but I think we're finally ready to change that. We want to put ourselves out there and carve out our own niche. There are already far too many soulless headless CMS offerings out there, and we'd rather set ourselves apart 😉.

Hey! Thanks for reading this super-long post... if anything surprised you or sparked your interest, don't be shy and reach us in the Community Forum! I'd love to answer any questions you might have.

As always, we hope 2024 brings you and your families health, happiness and success. Onward! ✊