Article

Metronome: Reshaping SaaS Revenue Models with Usage-Based Pricing

by Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, Andrew Schoen and Juan MogollonJan 31, 2024

A business model shift in SaaS is underway: pure seats-based subscription pricing models are giving way to granular, customer-aligned and dynamic usage-based pricing models (“UBP”), frequently referred to as consumption pricing. This evolution signifies a broader trend towards flexibility in billing structures, including hybrid models that blend elements of subscription and consumption pricing. For software vendors, the dynamism and agility of product iteration must be matched by commensurate flexibility and agility in pricing iteration; but, too often, the billing system (whether supplied by a 3rd party or built in-house) becomes a chokepoint.

In the 1960s through 1990s, on-prem servers and perpetual software licenses were the business model norm. The rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) as a dominant pricing model in the early- to mid-2000s enabled businesses to pay for software over time, reducing upfront costs (though with potentially higher LTVs to the vendor in the long-run) and ensuring that customers were always utilizing the most up-to-date software version. Purchasing friction was reduced by the assurance that a customer could choose to terminate their subscription (or simply not renew) if they ever felt they were receiving insufficient benefit from the product. Finally, SaaS business models comported well with cloud delivery, enabling improved scalability for both vendor and customer, and often reducing customer maintenance and operational overhead.

In the 2020s, we believe hybrid usage-based and SaaS pricing represents the next tectonic shift in software business models. The impact of this transition extends far beyond pricing and billing: it reshapes the way businesses build, sell, and deliver products, how they operate, and how engage with their customers.

Enter Metronome. A cutting-edge billing infrastructure designed to support the rapid growth and adaptability required by modern software companies. Offering a suite of solutions dedicated to supporting multifaceted billing needs and revenue operations, we believe Metronome serves as the perfect scaling partner for innovative businesses and software companies. Architected with flexibility in its DNA, the product is designed to adeptly manage and optimize subscription, consumption, or hybrid pricing models. By providing a real-time view into customer usage and billing data, Metronome has become a single source of truth for critical business decisions.

Metronome's sophisticated billing and subscription management platform enables companies to easily manage and automate complex billing and invoicing processes. Businesses are thus better equipped to adjust and experiment with customer-aligned pricing, adapt to fluctuating market demands, and refine their pricing strategies. In today's highly competitive SaaS landscape, embracing solutions like Metronome is vital for companies striving to set industry standards and gain market share.

Examples of companies which have pioneered usage-based pricing models or have transitioned the bulk of their offerings towards usage-based pricing include Amazon (AWS), Databricks, Datadog, Elastic, Google (GCP), Microsoft (Azure), Oracle, Salesforce, Snowflake, and Twilio. By embracing usage-based models, they have fine-tuned their offerings to align with customer consumption, yielding a powerful synergy between value delivery and revenue generation. This pivot away from static, pre-determined models towards dynamic, usage and data-centric ones, has been instrumental in driving their impressive growth trajectories.

 Through our ongoing dialogue with both builders and scalers, it has become clear that flexible pricing models have become table stakes. Traditional subscription-based businesses, now integrating UBP features to stay competitive, often find their current revenue infrastructure ill-equipped to handle the added optionality. This inadequacy results in operational redundancies and inflated engineering requirements, which can jeopardize revenue accuracy, inhibit scalability, and stifle innovation. As businesses navigate this complex landscape, we believe Metronome emerges as the perfect partner, providing the infrastructure that empowers companies to seamlessly flex into UBP, ensuring they stay competitive and responsive to market demands.

The adoption of these innovative billing models has not only unlocked substantial growth, it also set new benchmarks for customer-centric product delivery. These new approaches enhance customer satisfaction, foster stronger alignment and customer relationships, and ultimately drive customer loyalty. As a result, companies that embrace these models have undergone accelerated market adoption—bolstered by reduced friction to land new customers (UBP can lead to fewer pricing objections in sales) and high customer retention and expansion rates.

As dynamic SaaS companies continue to evolve, we believe two features remain key to success: speed and scale. A billing system that can support dynamic and flexible pricing & packaging iteration is paramount in enabling businesses to adapt swiftly and efficiently to the ever-evolving and competitive software ecosystem.

Adopting UBP and hybrid systems impacts the entire business structure, inspiring a rethinking of corporate building blocks and design principles. For example, sales teams can leverage real-time visibility into usage data to develop better sales plans, upsells, and cross-sales strategies. Support teams can formulate real-time insights to identify and address customer concerns rapidly. Product teams can track and understand customer consumption patterns to optimize feature development and design. With data-driven strategies, organizations can harness the full power of their resources to secure a competitive stance in the market.

Metronome's platform allows companies to focus on product development and launches, while also expediting time to market. By handling the heavy lifting of pricing-model coordination, deployment and refinement, Metronome not only streamlines this process for businesses but also delivers invaluable data and insights that can be leveraged improve product offerings and optimize revenue generation and retention.

We are excited and humbled to back Metronome on its journey to power the software business model of tomorrow!

About the authors

Hilarie Koplow-McAdams

Hilarie joined NEA as a Venture Partner in 2017 and is focused on enterprise software and services. A software industry veteran, Hilarie spent three decades at growth-stage companies in operating and board roles. Most recently, Hilarie was President at New Relic. Prior to that, she was President at Salesforce, responsible for the company’s worldwide sales organization. She started her career at Oracle and Intuit. Hilarie has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Mills College.
Hilarie joined NEA as a Venture Partner in 2017 and is focused on enterprise software and services. A software industry veteran, Hilarie spent three decades at growth-stage companies in operating and board roles. Most recently, Hilarie was President at New Relic. Prior to that, she was President at Salesforce, responsible for the company’s worldwide sales organization. She started her career at Oracle and Intuit. Hilarie has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Mills College.

Andrew Schoen

Andrew joined NEA in 2014 and invests in founders innovating in AI/ML, fintech, frontier tech, infrastructure software, technically differentiated SaaS and security. Prior to NEA, he was a member of Blackstone’s M&A Group. Prior to Blackstone, he founded Flicstart. Andrew serves on the Cornell University Council, the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Cornell, and is President Emeritus of the Cornell Venture Capital Club. He earned his master’s degree as a Schwarzman Scholar and his bachelor’s degree in economics and science of earth systems in engineering at Cornell.
Andrew joined NEA in 2014 and invests in founders innovating in AI/ML, fintech, frontier tech, infrastructure software, technically differentiated SaaS and security. Prior to NEA, he was a member of Blackstone’s M&A Group. Prior to Blackstone, he founded Flicstart. Andrew serves on the Cornell University Council, the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Cornell, and is President Emeritus of the Cornell Venture Capital Club. He earned his master’s degree as a Schwarzman Scholar and his bachelor’s degree in economics and science of earth systems in engineering at Cornell.

Juan Mogollon

Juan joined NEA in 2022 as an investor on the Technology team, where he focuses on early-stage enterprise investments. Prior to NEA, Juan was an investment banker at Evercore, in New York, where he worked on M&A transactions and capital raises for consumer and enterprise technology clients globally. Previously, he spent time at Bank of America and Marbella Interests. Juan graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s of business administration in finance. He is proudly Colombian.
Juan joined NEA in 2022 as an investor on the Technology team, where he focuses on early-stage enterprise investments. Prior to NEA, Juan was an investment banker at Evercore, in New York, where he worked on M&A transactions and capital raises for consumer and enterprise technology clients globally. Previously, he spent time at Bank of America and Marbella Interests. Juan graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s of business administration in finance. He is proudly Colombian.