A New Beginning: Userlike Joins Lime
As of last Monday, April 26, 2021 Userlike has joined Lime Technologies, a leading CRM solution from Sweden. This event marks one of the biggest milestones in our 10-year existence.
I’d like to explain how we've come to this decision. But I also realize that while everyone at Userlike (and Lime) is excited about this development, it probably raises plenty of questions with our customers. So let's first get a few rapid-fire questions out of the way:
"Will this change anything in our relationship to Userlike – now and in the future?" No, Userlike will continue as before, both as a product and as a company. We will operate as an independent company and product within the Lime Technologies Group. So we keep our name, our product, our team, management and office.
"Will the acquisition change anything to my product or Userlike's plans for the future?" No, nothing will change in your customer experience. Userlike keeps running and we keep improving it as before.
"Will there be changes to who we interact with?" There will be no changes to our team so your contact at Userlike will remain the same. We will only be hiring at a faster pace than before, which will enable us to reach our product vision quicker.
"Will there be changes to your plans with the product?" Lime stands behind our product roadmap and only wants us to pursue / accelerate it. There are longer-term plans of building integrations with Lime's CRM solutions, but these fall in line with our already existing plans of improving Userlike's internal CRM features (i.e. the Contact area).
"Will the founders stay with Userlike?" Yes, the founders stay as committed to Userlike as ever. David and I will remain as the managing directors and continue our responsibilities as before. One change: I will report to the CEO of Lime from now on.
"Will there be any changes whatsoever?!" As our customer, you won’t experience any changes – besides hopefully a faster influx of new features and improvements. The changes that will happen take place behind the curtain. For example, Lime will build up a sales team in our office in Köln to kickstart the German expansion of their CRM products. And we will share our insights of the German market with them to help make this a success.
Why we joined Lime
Any big decision always involves personal motivations, but the most important reason for joining Lime is that this allows us to radically pick up the pace with which we can chase after our vision.
We see a great future for what we have built with the new Userlike version (Unified Messaging). We've built a product that enables businesses to move their customer communication to the messaging age.
For most of Userlike’s story, we've been a pure website chat solution. In the 2020s, the website continues to be a business’ most important piece of digital real estate.
That's why Userlike's Website Messenger stays at the core of our solution. Businesses need a direct messaging channel to reach their customers at the moments that they are most valuable: as they are exploring their website.
But businesses also need a convenient channel to reach their customers for the 99.9% of the time that they're not on the website: as they’re going about their day. It’s the combination of website chat and messaging apps that allows businesses to support their customers at every stage of the buyer journey.
Our new product rides a few big and interconnected trends: digitalization, mobility, messaging and chatbots. But to take the product as far as we believe it can go, we realized we needed help.
We believe that messaging should become the dominant mode of customer communication. With Lime's support, we believe we can make it so.
Userlike and Lime
I first got in touch with Lime at the end of 2020. As our talks progressed, it became increasingly clear to me that our two companies were similar and different in exactly the right ways.
We are remarkably aligned in terms of culture, which makes working together with them so far very enjoyable. Like us, Lime has been very deliberate in constructing their corporate culture.
They have a set of values that largely overlaps with our own. And their values aren’t empty words, but powerful and unifying ideas that they've integrated throughout their company habits, policies and offices.
Our products are different in a complementary way. Lime did not have built-in chat and messaging capabilities yet, and we at Userlike had plans to further improve our Contact area features toward a true Messaging CRM.
In terms of skills and knowledge we have a lot we can learn from each other. We will mostly be learning from them, of course. We are looking forward to soaking up the insights Lime has accumulated throughout their three decades in the software industry.
Lime is especially strong in their professional services, which are an essential part of their strategy and an area where we were already planning to invest in. For most of our customers, chat and messaging are completely new ways of customer communication than what they're used to (which is mostly phone and email).
We believe that by more proactively supporting our customers with their rollout and implementation – leaning on our 9+ years of experience with the channels – we could help get much more value out of our solution. So we are thrilled to have such an experienced partner to coach us in this area now.
Then in terms of collaboration, the vision of Lime's leadership also fully aligned with our own. They are not out to "absorb" Userlike's products and operations into their ranks. That also wouldn’t make sense, as it would mean destroying the brand and valuable infrastructure that we've built up over the years. Instead, we will be working as an independent company and product within the Lime Technologies Group – supporting us with their experience and resources wherever they can.
Lime, then, is the best partner we could have wished for. I would have imagined that for such a big deal, somewhere along the way, compromises would have had to be made. But it turned out that the interests are so aligned, that our companies are the same and different in exactly the right ways, that it really does seem like a perfect match.
Entering the fifth chapter
The last 10 years have been a tremendous ride in building up Userlike. We've gone through a number of chapters, each wonderful in their own way.
The First Chapter started in 2011, when we were four guys working on a startup from an unheated apartment building in Engelbertstrasse, Cologne. A crowdfunding round with Seedmatch gave us an initial boost, after which we struggled to sustain steady and predictable growth.
The Second Chapter from 2013 to 2014 was spent working remotely, as the founders were distributed across Europe in Cologne, Lisbon, Rotterdam and Iceland.
It was during this time that we found our inbound growth strategy and picked up speed again. We made a number of remote hires and did our first ever company retreat in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Third Chapter started in 2015, when we decided to open up our first proper –albeit small– office on Aachener Strasse in Cologne. We recognized that it was valuable to meet our customers in person, and that effective hiring and company-building was very difficult to do remotely.
This was the chapter that really laid the foundations of the company that we are today. Many of the people who joined us then are still with us as senior members today. We also reached the epic milestone of 1,000 paying customers.
We soon outgrew our office. So in 2017, we said goodbye to the Aachener Strasse office, and moved to our current headquarters to Probsteigasse.
This is when we entered the Fourth Chapter, maturing into a more professional organization in terms of processes and company building. During this time, we expanded the team from 20 to around 40 people and grew our annual recurring revenue to 3.5+ million. It was also the time of kicker tournaments and summer office parties.
It was also the chapter in which we built "Unified Messaging," Userlike's new product version, after our realization that the future of customer communication was in messaging.
As we are about to enter the Fifth Chapter, I look back with gratitude. First of all, to all the inspiring customers that we have the privilege of serving – those businesses that have made our entire journey possible and which I am honored to have with us for the next phase.
And on a tied-first place, all the team members who have built Userlike with us over the years. I am proud of our ability to attract good, friendly and highly capable people – and that these people tend to stay with us for many years. Quite a few have even come back after short experiences with other companies — shout out to Niklas, Franzi and Daniel!
But I also want to thank everyone who has moved on to other challenges. You have had a significant impact on Userlike’s growth and success.
The people make the company, and this long-term employment is something I was happy to recognize in Lime's culture as well. Their incoming CEO Nils Olsson (38) started out at Lime as a 21-year-old trainee, for example.
Now that we've entered the fifth chapter, as part of the publicly traded Lime Technologies Group, we are looking forward to what's ahead of us.
The future is always in flux, but this is what we're aiming for: rapid hiring in the areas that we see most growth potential in. This will in turn allow us to move along our product roadmap faster, and push forward our expansion and mission of making messaging the dominant mode of customer communication.
We are very much looking forward to learning from Lime. I believe that the main bottleneck to growth is knowledge acquisition. By being acquired by Lime, we have acquired a fountain of knowledge and experience.
I'd like to finish off by thanking Userlike's customers, team members, and our new colleagues from Lime. I am very excited to begin this new chapter with you.