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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, DC 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM TO

Commission File Number: 001-40526

 

CONFLUENT, INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

47-1824387

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

899 W. Evelyn Avenue

Mountain View, California

94041

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (800) 439-3207

 

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share

 

CFLT

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

(Nasdaq Global Select Market)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No

 

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. YES ☐ No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ NO ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ NO ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

 

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements. ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b). ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). YES NO ☒

 

The aggregate market value of the shares of common stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the Registrant’s shares of common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on June 30, 2022, was approximately $3,222.9 million.

 

As of February 8, 2023, there were 177,250,222 shares of the registrant’s Class A common stock and 113,879,311 shares of the Registrant’s Class B common stock, each with a par value of $0.00001 per share, outstanding.

 

 


 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement relating to the 2023 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated herein by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein. Such Proxy Statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the Registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2022.

 

 

 

 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

3

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

18

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

66

Item 2.

Properties

66

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

66

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

66

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

67

Item 6.

Reserved

68

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

69

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

84

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

85

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

126

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

126

Item 9B.

Other Information

127

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

127

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers, and Corporate Governance

128

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

128

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

128

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

128

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

128

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

129

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

131

Signatures

 

132

 

i


Table of Contents

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements about us and our industry that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial condition, business strategy and plans, and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “target,” “toward,” “will,” “would,” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following:

our expectations regarding our revenue, revenue mix, expenses, and other results of operations;
our ability to acquire new customers and successfully retain existing customers;
our ability to increase consumption of our offering and expand features and functionalities;
our ability to achieve or sustain our margins and profitability;
the impact of, and our ability to operate our business and effectively manage our growth under evolving and uncertain macroeconomic conditions, such as high inflation and recessionary environments;
future investments in our business, our anticipated capital expenditures, and our estimates regarding our capital requirements;
the costs and success of our sales and marketing efforts and our ability to promote our brand;
our growth strategies;
the estimated addressable market opportunity;
our reliance on key personnel and our ability to identify, recruit, and retain skilled personnel;
our ability to effectively manage our growth, including international expansion;
our ability to protect our intellectual property rights and any costs associated therewith;
the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or other public health crises;
our ability to compete effectively with existing competitors and new market entrants; and
the growth rates of the markets in which we compete.

We caution you that the foregoing list may not contain all of the forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Forward-looking statements are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, including risks described in the section titled “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Other sections of this Annual Report on Form 10-K may include additional factors that could harm our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ from those contained in, or implied by, any forward-looking statements.

 

1


Table of Contents

You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We cannot assure you that the events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date of this report or to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations. You should read this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and have filed as exhibits to this report with the understanding that our actual future results, levels of activity, performance, and achievements may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based upon information available to us as of the filing date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and while we believe such information forms a reasonable basis for such statements, such information may be limited or incomplete, and our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all potentially available relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely upon these statements.


Where You Can Find More Information

Investors and others should note that we may announce material business and financial information to our investors using our Investor Relations website (investors.confluent.io), our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), webcasts, press releases, public conference calls, and blogs published on our website. We use these mediums, including our website, to communicate with investors and the general public about our company, our products, and other issues. It is possible that the information that we make available on our website may be deemed to be material information. We therefore encourage investors and others interested in our company to review the information that we make available on our website.

We also use our Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. The information we post through these social media channels may be deemed material. Accordingly, investors should monitor these accounts, in addition to following our SEC filings, webcasts, press releases, public conference calls, and blogs published on our website. This list may be updated from time to time. The information we post through these channels is not a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. These channels may be updated from time to time on our investor relations website.


 

 

2


Table of Contents

PART I

 

Item 1. Business

 

Overview

 

Confluent is on a mission to set data in motion. We have pioneered a new category of data infrastructure designed to connect all the applications, systems, and data layers of a company around a real-time central nervous system. This new data infrastructure software has emerged as one of the most strategic parts of the next-generation technology stack, and using this stack to harness data in motion is critical to the success of modern companies as they strive to compete and win in the digital-first world.

 

Our way of life has shifted to a digital-first paradigm, and the digital realm has become the new competitive battlefield in the global economy. In order to compete and win in today’s world, organizations must continually innovate on software systems that are increasingly critical to how they do business.

 

Being digital-first is not just a matter of adding an application or automating an existing process. It is an end-to-end reimagining of business. It means creating rich, digital front-end customer experiences as a primary way of interacting with customers. It means transitioning to real-time, software-driven back-end operations as a business. In retail, this is the difference between accurate inventory tracking across multiple channels to ensure a consumer can have an up-to-date snapshot of what is actually in-store, versus leaving a consumer disappointed on arrival when the product that they thought was available is out-of-stock. In manufacturing, this is the difference between harnessing a real-time flow of data from IoT sensors to deliver predictive maintenance and reduce downtime, versus episodic, manual inspections of equipment. In financial services, this is the difference between detecting and preventing fraud versus reacting afterwards.

 

This is a matter of life or death for companies. Tech disruptors are delivering rich, digital customer experiences and setting the standard for customer expectations. Businesses in every industry are in full mobilization to rebuild their businesses around the new experiences made possible with software and data. Organizations that get it right can experience stronger growth, lower costs, and improved customer loyalty and gain significant competitive advantage. Conversely, organizations that fail to deliver a real-time customer experience that is intuitive, informed, and reliable can expect frustration, dissatisfaction, and churn.

 

These innovations in front-end customer experiences and back-end business operations reflect a larger technology trend—the fundamental shift in the role of software in the modern organization. Today, software is no longer simply used as a set of applications to increase employee productivity (such as email and expense reporting). Instead, software is directly orchestrating customer experiences and operations that run the business. It is not just that companies are using more software—in a very real sense, they are actually becoming software.

 

Several waves of technology innovation have driven this changing role of software. Cloud has re-imagined infrastructure as code, making it easier than ever for developers to build applications. Mobile has extended enormous amounts of computing power to fit in the palms of our hands, making usage of technology ubiquitous in our lives. Meanwhile, machine learning is extending the scope and role of software to new domains and processes.

 

However, in order to complete this transition, another fundamental wave is required. The operation of the business needs to happen in real-time and cut across infrastructure silos. Organizations can no longer have disconnected applications around the edges of their business with piles of data stored and siloed in separate databases. These sources of data need to integrate in real-time in order to be relevant, and applications need to be able to react continuously to everything happening in the business as it occurs. To accomplish this, businesses need data infrastructure that provides connectivity across the entire organization with real-time flow and processing of data, and the ability to build applications that react and respond to that data flow. As companies increasingly become software, they need a central nervous system that connects all of their disparate software systems, unifying their business and enabling them to react intelligently in real-time.

 

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Because of this, we believe that it is no longer enough for an organization to innovate based on the current paradigm of capturing data, storing it, and then querying or analyzing it. Organizations need a strategy, and a foundational data platform, to operate their business in real-time based on data as it is being generated in the moment. This idea of “data in motion” is at least as critical to the operations of a company as “data at rest,” and we believe the new generation of winning organizations will be defined by their ability to take action on it.

 

Traditional database technologies were not designed for data in motion, but architected for stored data at rest. Despite significant developments in the scalability and speed of analysis in both traditional and more modern databases (such as NoSQL, time-series, and graph databases), they remain limited to data-at-rest use cases and cannot harness data in motion. The leading open source offering for data in motion, Apache Kafka, was originally created by our founders at LinkedIn in 2011 and brought to the mainstream a new paradigm of data processing. However, this was only the beginning. Confluent was founded to create a product that could make data in motion the central nervous system of every company in the world.

 

Confluent is pioneering this fundamentally new category. Our offering is designed to act as the nexus of real-time data, from every source, allowing it to stream across the organization and enabling applications to harness it to power real-time customer experiences and data-driven business operations. Our offering can be deployed either as a fully-managed, cloud-native SaaS offering available on all major cloud providers or an enterprise-ready, self-managed software offering. Our cloud-native offering works across multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures, delivering massive scalability, elasticity, security, and global interconnectedness, enabling agile development.

 

Our open source roots are a key driver of our go-to-market success. Apache Kafka has become the industry standard for data in motion. It is one of the most successful open source projects, estimated to have been used by over 75% of the Fortune 500. Modern applications are expected to integrate with Apache Kafka, and the technical skill set for Kafka has become a critical requirement in the industry. Confluent’s products provide the capabilities of Apache Kafka but do so on a platform built for the cloud, complemented by connectivity to the larger enterprise, and with the ability to process and govern at scale. The developer community understands the benefits of a complete platform for data in motion. Consequently, software developers within our prospective customers’ engineering or IT departments are often very familiar with our underlying technology and value proposition and evangelize on our behalf.

 

Confluent has built an operationalized customer journey, which we call our Data in Motion Journey, focused on data in motion that ties together product features, go-to-market efforts, and customer success capabilities, and helps take customers from their initial experiments with the technology to organization-wide adoption as one of their most critical data platforms. This starts by landing use cases in a high volume, low-friction manner while projects are still being conceived and the architecture of the solution is being designed. Awareness and use of our offering begin even before our sales efforts, given the widespread adoption of Apache Kafka by developers and the self-service adoption made possible with our cloud product and community downloads. Our enterprise sales force takes these initial engagements and helps users progress to production use cases and paying customers either on a pay-as-you-go model or with a committed contract. Once customers see the benefits of our product for their initial use cases, they often expand into other use cases and lines of business, divisions, and geographies. Our deep technical expertise, coupled with our product capabilities and laser focus on customer outcomes, enable us to form strategic partnerships with our customers on this journey. This expansion is helped by a natural network effect in which the value of our platform to a customer increases as more use cases are adopted, more applications and systems are connected, and more data is added. Over time, by enabling data in motion across the organization, Confluent can become the central nervous system for their entire organization, allowing data to be captured and processed as it is generated in real-time across hundreds of teams, systems, and applications throughout the company. This expansion effect is reflected by our dollar-based net retention rate as of December 31, 2022 of just under 130%.

 

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Our Solution

 

Confluent is pioneering a fundamentally new category of data infrastructure focused on data in motion for developers and enterprises alike. In order for enterprises to deliver rich customer experiences, it is critical for all of their business functions, departments, teams, applications, and data stores to have complete connectivity, be thoroughly integrated, and be able to analyze data as it is generated. Confluent is designed to be this intelligent connective tissue by having real-time data from multiple sources constantly streamed across an enterprise for real-time analysis.

 

Our offering enables organizations to deploy production-ready applications that run across cloud infrastructures and data centers, and scales elastically, with enhanced features for security and compliance. Our platform provides the capabilities to fill the structural, operational, and engineering gaps that are required for businesses to fully realize the power of data in motion. We enable software developers to easily build their initial applications to harness data in motion, and enable large, complex enterprises to make data in motion core to everything they do. As organizations mature in their adoption cycle, we enable them to build more and more applications that take advantage of data in motion. The results have a dual effect: businesses continuously improve their ability to provide better customer experiences and concurrently drive data-driven business operations. We believe that, over time, Confluent can become the central nervous system for modern digital enterprises, providing ubiquitous real-time connectivity and powering real-time applications across the enterprise.

 

Confluent’s solution can be deployed either as a fully-managed cloud-native SaaS offering available on-demand, Confluent Cloud, or an enterprise-ready, self-managed software offering, Confluent Platform.

 

A high-performance, low-latency infrastructure for harnessing data in motion requires operating wherever a customer’s applications and systems reside. Customers with applications in a particular cloud would use Confluent Cloud in that cloud provider and region. Customers with applications on premises, or on a private cloud, would use Confluent Platform in that data center. Customers with both on premises and cloud, or even multiple clouds, need Confluent in each of these environments. Together, these solutions can act as one unified fabric for data streams that connect all of these customer environments.

 

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Our solution has three differentiated elements:

 

Cloud-Native. Confluent offers true cloud functionality for data in motion. We offer a fully-managed, cloud-native service that is massively scalable, elastic, secure, and globally interconnected, enabling agile development. This is a completely different experience than what would result from taking on-premise software and simply offering it on cloud virtual machines, which are virtualized environments that mimic the behavior of an on-premise experience in the cloud. It requires a feature set to enable elasticity and scalability that cuts right to the heart of the design of data systems. We had to completely re-architect the technologies underlying data in motion, including Apache Kafka, for the cloud to make a truly cloud-native offering. We offer a high-velocity, frictionless pay-as-you-go model, allowing developers to easily sign up without having to enter a credit card, experience and see the value of Confluent, and seamlessly transition to only being billed for what is used. The combination of these capabilities and features creates a compelling and simple solution for developers looking to build upon data in motion in the cloud and for enterprises looking for a secured, governed enterprise solution. With Confluent, developers and enterprises alike can focus on their applications and drive value without worrying about the operational overhead of managing data infrastructure.

 

Complete. We created a complete platform for data in motion, by leveraging capabilities from open source Apache Kafka with our significant proprietary capabilities. Our technology moves and processes data concurrently, with specific tools such as ksqlDB, a native data-in-motion database that allows users to build data-in-motion applications using just a few SQL statements, as well as over 100 connectors. Our robust capabilities dramatically enhance developer productivity, increase ease of operations, and provide enterprise-level security, governance, resilience, and expertise in a complete platform, providing significant benefits over companies trying to build these complex features on their own. Our acquisition of Immerok, an Apache Flink stream processing managed services company, will enable us to make Confluent Cloud even more compelling by adding support for Flink, a powerful technology for building stream processing applications and one of the most popular Apache open source projects.

 

Everywhere. We have built a truly hybrid and multi-cloud offering. We can support customers in their cloud and multi-cloud environments, on-premises, or a combination of both. From early on, we recognized that the journey to the cloud is not overnight or simple, and in order for our customers to effectively digitally transform, they require a fundamental platform for data in motion that can integrate seamlessly across their entire technology environment. We offer this essential capability and enable organizations to seamlessly leverage data in motion across their public cloud, private cloud, and data center environments, ensuring total connectivity throughout an organization. For enterprises that are increasingly expanding internationally, Confluent’s multi-cloud support also enables organizations to leverage data in motion across multiple data centers and providers, stretched around the world. For enterprises that want to be hybrid cloud, we are able to extract information from the entirety of their infrastructure, allowing us to act as the bridge that unites legacy systems in older environments with modern applications in the cloud. This ability to let customers embrace the new without having to fully replace everything that is old is a critical point of differentiation and a critical element in the cloud adoption strategy of many of our customers.

 

Confluent Is Becoming the Central Nervous System of Organizations

 

As Confluent grows within an organization, the network effects we generate create even more value to the organization as a whole. By fundamentally re-architecting how data flows, we are able to replace complexity with simplicity, delays with real-time, and disparate data with a unified view across the modern enterprise software stack.

 

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Most organizations start off with a complex mess of point-to-point connections between their applications, databases, and data warehouses. This is unavoidable when data is primarily at rest, held in storage across the organization, and requiring these connections to be built. Adopting a new technology to connect this mess would be prohibitively slow if there were not an underlying force driving this change. Fortunately, our platform has a unique network effect that helps speed its adoption. The first application that utilizes our platform generally does so for the capabilities in harnessing data in motion. In doing so, it brings into the platform the data streams needed for its usage. However, although these data streams are brought for one application, they are usable by all future applications and bring value to the entire ecosystem. As a result, future applications can connect to the platform to access these data streams, bringing with them their own data streams. As a result, there is a clear virtuous cycle: applications bring data streams, which in turn attract more applications.

 

As customers expand with our foundational platform, we set more and more data in motion across the organization and replace the various point-to-point connections with our complete platform. This means data can intelligently be made available in real-time to more and more of the organization as applications connect to a single platform. We are able to hold a highly strategic position to create greater value to existing applications and databases as data in motion across the entire organization begins to flow, be directed, and be processed through Confluent. We believe that this eventually leads to Confluent becoming the central nervous system of an organization, allowing data to be captured and processed as it is generated around the whole organization, enabling organizations to react intelligently in real-time.

 

Key Benefits to Our Customers

 

Our platform delivers the following key business benefits to our customers:

 

Ability to Deliver Rich Customer Experiences and Data-Driven Business Operations. The world is increasingly demanding applications that are responsive in real time to data in motion. By harnessing the power of data in motion, our customers can deliver differentiated customer experiences, such as suggesting the next show to watch in real time or providing live information on the status of a grocery order. Enterprises can also enable data-driven operations such as real-time, preventive maintenance, IoT analytics, and diagnostics.

 

Accelerated Time-to-Market. Speed is essential for our customers, as they seek to disrupt established industries or innovate to fend off emerging disruptors. Our fully-managed cloud-native service enables our customers to start developing instantly, without any internal or external operational barriers. With Stream Designer, we offer the industrys first visual interface for rapidly building, testing, and deploying streaming data pipelines natively on Kafka, increasing the number of developers able to tap into the power of data streaming. And, with the ability to pay-as-you-go, our customers can begin using Confluent without commitment or delay from internal procurement processes. Furthermore, our offering comes with a rich, pre-built ecosystem, making it simple, quick and efficient to integrate Confluent into the enterprise. This enables greater engineering organization efficiency and an accelerated time-to-market.

 

Reduced Total Cost of Ownership. Confluent significantly reduces the operational barriers and costs associated with shifting to a data-in-motion architecture. Coupled with accelerated time to market, our customers benefit from both reduction in total cost of ownership as well as rapid ROI.

 

Freedom of Choice. Confluent is hybrid and multi-cloud compatible so customers can deploy on premises or in the cloud. We recognize that enterprises have their data stored in many places and that an effective solution must be able to connect to various data sources.

 

Mission Critical Security and Reliability. Confluent has enterprise-grade security and governance capabilities to provide confidentiality of critical information. We enable mission-critical reliability and resiliency, allowing data persistence, dynamic backing up of data across replicated partitions, fault-tolerance, and automated client failover.

 

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Robust Developer Community. Apache Kafka has an extremely robust developer community. It is one of the most successful open source projects, with more than 65,000 meet-up members across over 200 global meetup groups, estimated to have been used by over 75% of the Fortune 500. Confluent continues to add to open source Apache Kafka and has helped build an ecosystem of contributors. This means that developers outside of Confluent are building connectors, more functionality, and deploying patches to Apache Kafka while Confluent continues to also add features both to Apache Kafka and to Confluent’s proprietary offering. This leads to a positive feedback loop as it strengthens the Apache Kafka offering, attracting more developers, who in turn further strengthen Apache Kafka, which benefits us, as users see the benefit of a data-in-motion platform, and the wider Apache Kafka community. In addition, we make available many features that we have developed at Confluent under our Confluent Community License, which means developers can access, benefit from, and modify the source code for such features, further increasing our reach and mindshare in the developer community.

 

Our Growth Strategy

 

We are pursuing our substantial market opportunity with growth strategies that include:

 

Easy and Frictionless Land with Cloud Pay-As-You-Go. Due to the cloud-native nature of Confluent Cloud, we are able to acquire new customers through a seamless and frictionless self-service motion. Customers can get started via our free cloud trial and easily convert online to become paying customers. Our cloud-native capabilities allow us to land customers at low entry points, with no commitment, and seamlessly expand via increased usage. We will continue to leverage our cloud-native differentiation to create an easy buying motion and drive our growth.

 

Continue our Focus on our Customer Growth Go-To-Market Model. Our integrated Customer Growth Go-To-Market model is designed to drive business growth by mapping the customer journey from initial interest, to pilot, to first production project, to an integrated platform across the enterprise. We intend to develop our strategy of garnering customer signups, converting to paid customers, expanding through additional use cases and rapidly delivering customer value. We will continue to offer a range of services and training offerings, partnering with our customers to increase the value they realize from our solution and thereby increase their consumption of our offering.

 

Enterprise-Wide Expansion via Solutions Selling. After acquiring a new customer, we seek to grow our footprint by solving additional use cases for that customer. Since we are a fundamental data infrastructure platform, the use cases we can address are wide-ranging, and our use case framework includes both horizontal IT workloads such as pipelines to cloud databases and data warehouses, microservices-based application development, and mainframe integration, as well industry-specific use cases such as faster and smarter real-time fraud detection. We enjoy a powerful network effect as we enter organizations; once one application is connected to Confluent, our customers often connect other applications to that first application, which can result in a flywheel where Confluent can permeate the enterprise. We believe Confluent can become the central nervous system of modern enterprises at scale. Our dollar-based net retention rate of just under 130% as of December 31, 2022 reflects our ability to rapidly demonstrate our value and address a vast array of use cases for our customers.

 

Extend our Product Leadership and Innovation. We pioneered the category of harnessing the power of data in motion and are committed to innovating to extend our product leadership. We will continue to build out our platform, add more capabilities, build more applications, and invest in developing technology that increases developer productivity and promotes rapid customer success. From ksqlDB, which is a native data-in-motion database that allows users to build data-in-motion applications using just a few SQL statements, to Stream Designer, which enables less sophisticated developers to quickly and easily create and deploy streaming data pipelines, we have continued to innovate and make it easier for any organization to harness data in motion.

 

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Continue to Invest in the Open Source Community. Our open source roots provide a large pool of targeted developers and enterprises who are interested in or have already adopted open source Apache Kafka. These developers are readily able to use and benefit from our cloud-native service or enterprise-ready software. We will continue to invest in delivering features to open source Apache Kafka in order to continue adding value to the Apache Kafka community, maintain our leadership standing in the new data-in-motion paradigm, and ensure that the open source benefits to our business continue.

 

Grow and Harness our Partner Ecosystem. We have built a powerful partner ecosystem encompassing the major cloud providers, global and regional systems integrators, and ISVs. Our partners include AWS, Microsoft, GCP, Accenture, Alibaba, Elastic, MongoDB, and Snowflake. We intend to continue to invest in these relationships and build further partnerships to ensure our software is widely sold, distributed, and supported.

 

Expand Internationally. We believe markets outside of the United States present a significant opportunity for additional growth of our business. During the year ended December 31, 2022, our international revenue represented 38% of our total revenue, coming from customers in over 100 countries. We expect to continue to make significant investments to support our growth in our existing international markets and in penetrating additional international markets.

 

Expand the Scope of our Platform with Stream Processing and Other Investments. We believe that the rise of real-time stream processing of data in motion is still in the early stages of adoption. With the addition of Flink to our existing investment in ksqlDB, we are positioned to succeed in this emerging area as it gains adoption with customers. This adoption is expected to lead to significant displacement of batch data processing on traditional databases and a corresponding shift in spend to data-in-motion technologies, such as Confluent. We believe our investment in Stream Processing positions us to capture this shift and use it to fuel further growth.

 

Grow Further Use Cases Up-The-Stack Leveraging our Strategic Position for Data in Motion. Data in motion is a disruptive new platform technology, and as such there are countless use-case focused opportunities up the stack. As we grow into our role as a central nervous system within companies, we believe we have an incredibly strategic position from which to grow into use-case specific adjacencies that apply data in motion. We see the potential for broad, cross-industry customer adoption of use cases around machine learning, IoT, data integration, real-time analytics, real-time logistics, customer data unification, cloud migration, microservices, data sharing, as well as countless others. We believe we are strategically positioned to understand what these use cases are when reimagined around data in motion and to partner and/or build pre-packaged solutions purpose-built for these use cases.

 

Our Product Offering

 

Our software offering provides a complete solution for working with data in motion, including the ability to read, write, store, capture, validate, secure, and process continuous streams of data. It also has features designed to fulfill the requirements of modern cloud infrastructure: it is a modern distributed system built to be secure, fault tolerant, and scalable elastically from a single application to hundreds or thousands of applications within an organization. Our software can be consumed in two ways, Confluent Cloud and Confluent Platform, that our customers can leverage independently or together. Regardless of where our customers have their technology environments, we are able to deliver an integrated platform for data in motion that can become their central nervous system.

 

Confluent Cloud is our fully-managed cloud-native offering, available on all of the major cloud providers (AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure). Confluent Cloud is offered to our customers via a pay-as-you-go model with no commitment, or via an annual, or multi-year, subscription model where customers draw down upon a committed dollar amount. Key attributes of Confluent Cloud include:

 

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Serverless. Confluent Cloud offers self-serve provisioning with no complex cluster sizing, zero downtime, upgrades and bug fixes, elastic scaling, and the ability for customers to pay only for what they actually use.
Complete. Confluent Cloud offers data compatibility with fully-managed Schema Registry, rapid development through fully-managed connectors, real-time processing with fully-managed ksqlDB, virtually infinite data retention, and committer-led support with contractual response times of 60 minutes or less for severe-impact issues.
Flexible. Confluent Cloud offers the ability to build a persistent bridge from on-premises to cloud, and the ability to stream across public clouds for multi-cloud data pipelines.
Highly Available. Confluent Cloud offers a guaranteed 99.95% uptime SLA, ability to scale to 10s of GBps with dedicated capacity, ability to achieve sub 30ms latency at scale, and multi availability-zone (AZ) replication.
Secure. Confluent Cloud offers at-rest and in-transit data encryption, SAML/SSO for user authentication, private networking via VPC peering or AWS Transit Gateway, and monitoring visibility with topic- and cluster-level metrics.

 

Confluent Platform is our enterprise-grade self-managed software offering, able to be deployed on-premises as well as across public and private cloud environments. Confluent Platform is offered to our customers via an annual or multi-year subscription. Key attributes of Confluent Platform include:
Unrestricted Developer Productivity. Confluent Platform offers developers the ability to build across multiple development languages, utilize a rich pre-built ecosystem of over 100 connectors, and benefit from a fully integrated data-in-motion database.
Efficient Operations at Scale. Confluent Platform enables our customers to minimize operational complexity while ensuring high performance and scalability.
Production-Stage Prerequisites. Confluent Platform offers foundational enterprise-level features needed to implement data in motion in production.
Freedom of Choice. Confluent Platform can be deployed on-premises or in public or hybrid cloud environments.

 

Our offering provides a full set of features and functionality to enable adoption of data in motion throughout an organization. Key features include:

 

Rich Pre-Built Ecosystem
Over 100 Pre-Built Connectors. We develop and work with partners who develop enterprise-ready connectors to easily integrate data and build applications. Connectors are supported by either Confluent or our partners.
ksqlDB. ksqlDB is a database that unifies the processing of data in motion and data at rest. This enables customers to build applications that compute new stored data sets off continuous data streams or enrich data streams with stored data. It translates the near-universal SQL interface of traditional databases to the world of data in motion, making it accessible for the vast majority of software developers with minimal learning time.
Schema Registry. Schema Registry is a central repository with a RESTful interface for developers to define standard schemas and register applications to enable compatibility.

 

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Management, Monitoring, and Global Resilience
Confluent Control Center (C3). Offers a simple way to manage and monitor data in motion as it scales across the enterprise. Control Center is a web-based graphical user interface to understand the data-in-motion environment, meet SLAs, and control key components of the data-in-motion platform.
Multi-Region Clusters. Multi-Region Clusters automate disaster recovery, allowing customers to run a single cluster across multiple data centers and automate disaster recovery with operational simplicity.
Cluster and Schema Linking. Cluster and Schema Linking enable customers to consistently geo-replicate data, making it easy to create a seamless and persistent bridge from Confluent Platform in on-premises environments to Confluent Cloud.
Dynamic Performance and Elasticity
Self-Balancing Clusters. Self-Balancing Clusters automate partition rebalances to optimize throughput, accelerate broker scaling, and reduce the operational burden of managing a large cluster. Partition rebalances are completed quickly and without any risk of human error.
Tiered Storage. Tiered Storage allows deployments to recognize two tiers of storage: local disks and cost-efficient object stores (Amazon S3 or GCP Storage). Brokers can offload older topic data to object storage, enabling virtually infinite retention.
Scalability. Confluent offers the ability to scale to trillions of events as well as scale across business units in order to become an enterprise standard.

 

Enterprise-Grade Security
Structured Audit Logs. Structured Audit Logs capture authorization logs in a set of dedicated topics, on a local or a remote cluster.
Role-based Access Control (RBAC). RBAC is a centralized implementation for secure access to resources with fine-tuned granularity and platform-wide standardization. Customers can control permissions by users/groups to clusters, topics, consumers groups, and even individual connectors.
Stream Governance. Confluent’s Stream Governance capabilities enable customers to maintain enterprise-grade cloud security and compliance, including the ability to increase collaboration with self-service data discovery and understand complex data relationships.
Data Compatibility and DevOps Automation
Schema Validation. Schema Validation provides a direct interface between the broker and Schema Registry to validate and enforce schemas programmatically. Schema Validation can be configured at the topic level.
Confluent Operator. Confluent Operator simplifies running Confluent Platform as a cloud-native system on Kubernetes, whether on-premises or in the cloud. It delivers an enterprise-ready implementation of the Kubernetes Operator API to automate deployment and key lifecycle operations.

 

Our offering is designed to serve as fundamental data infrastructure for our customers and solve an enormous variety of use cases across both front-end customer experiences and back-end business operations.

 

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In addition to our core offering, we offer several services offerings:

 

Professional Services. Professional Services provides expertise and tools that help our customers accelerate platform adoption and achieve successful business outcomes. We offer packaged and residency offerings focused on helping customers plan, implement, manage/monitor, and optimize their platform and applications.

 

Education. Our offering includes training and certification guidance, technical resources, and access to hands-on training and certification exams. Education offerings are targeted at different types of users and delivery modalities to suit end customer needs. We have instructor-led training, self-paced on-demand courses, and certification.

 

Certification Program. Technical expertise in data in motion is highly sought after and a highly-paid skill set. Our certification program enables technical personnel to demonstrate and validate in-depth knowledge of data in motion.

 

Our Licensing

 

Our software products are protected by our licensing policies, which include our full proprietary license as well as our community license, which restricts others from offering our technology as a competing SaaS offering.

 

Instead of opting for a traditional “open core” model, our core offering (Confluent Server) is substantially differentiated from Apache Kafka and was fundamentally re-architected to operate at cloud-scale, while being interoperable with existing Apache Kafka systems.

 

Our Confluent Community License makes available many features that we have developed at Confluent. This gives developers the functionality needed to get started with Confluent, but excludes some of the core features of our commercial platform. Developers can access and modify the source code for such features but cannot take these features and use them to provide a competing SaaS offering.

 

We focus on converting Confluent Community License users to paying customers by demonstrating the value of the fully-managed Confluent Cloud offering and the self-managed Confluent Platform offering, where developers get proprietary features such as Confluent control center, Confluent operator, self-balancing clusters, tiered storage, structured audit logs, RBAC, schema validation, and multi-region clusters, as described in “—Our Product Offering” above.

 

Sales and Marketing

 

In order to fully capitalize on our large market opportunity, our sales and marketing teams are tightly integrated to execute upon a cohesive go-to-market motion. The sales and marketing teams prioritize the core value of driving customer success and value in all strategies to acquire new customer accounts and grow our presence within existing customer accounts.

 

Our Customer Growth Go-To-Market model is centered around the Data in Motion Journey, from initial interest, to pilot, to first production project, to an integrated platform across the enterprise. Through mapping to the customer journey, we are able to drive customer value in a highly targeted manner.

 

Our strategy to expand within accounts has two fundamental aspects: first, to convert additional pockets of Apache Kafka interest and deployments within a given customer into a Confluent deployment, and second, to expand into additional use cases within a given customer through solutions selling with horizontal and vertical solutions. We believe there is a strong opportunity for growth as we solve a wide array of use cases.

 

Our focus on customer success is critical to our sales and marketing success. We offer a wide range of training, professional services, education, and support offerings to enable our customers to rapidly onboard, adopt, and ultimately realize value from data in motion.

 

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Partnerships with the leading cloud providers (AWS, Azure, and GCP), as well as global and regional systems integrators and technology ISVs (MongoDB, Elastic, and Snowflake) are also central to our sales and marketing strategy. We believe through these partnerships we will significantly expand the reach of our technology.

 

We believe in offering the ability for customers to engage with us in the manner best suited to them. We offer a fully self-service motion, where developers can learn and purchase in a completely online manner. We offer direct sales engagement, where customers can interact with experienced and knowledgeable field teams. We also offer the ability to engage and transact through our partner ecosystem, including the major cloud provider marketplaces, system integrators, technology ISVs, and resellers.

 

Our open source roots are a key driver to our go-to-market success. The expansive Apache Kafka technical community is fervently devoted to this technology, and often advocates for our technology even when we are not engaged in an organization. They see the value of Apache Kafka and the opportunity to benefit from a complete platform for data in motion with Confluent. Consequently, our prospective customers are often very familiar with our underlying technology and value proposition, and are capable of evangelizing on our behalf.

 

Executive-level engagements are also a key facet of our growth strategy. As our customer engagements progress from project to platform to enterprise-wide deployments, our customer relationships often include business as well as technology leaders. Through this wide set of customer relationships, we believe we will be more rapidly able to evolve into enterprise-wide customer deployments.

 

Research and Development

 

Our research and development efforts are focused on enhancing our platform features and functionalities and expanding the services we offer to increase market penetration and deepen our relationships with our customers. We believe that the timely development of new, and the enhancement of our existing, platform features and services is essential to maintaining our competitive position. We continually incorporate feedback and new use cases from our community and customers into our platform. Our development teams foster greater agility, which enables us to develop innovative products and make rapid changes to our technologies that increase resiliency and operational efficiency.

 

Competition

 

Our market is highly competitive and characterized by rapid changes in technology, customer needs, frequent introductions of new offerings, and improvements to existing service offerings.

 

Our primary competition, especially on premise, is internal IT teams that are attempting to “do it themselves” using open source software. Our offering is substantially differentiated from Apache Kafka, and therefore companies using only open source tools do not benefit from our full product offering. As the move to the cloud increases, we expect that competition from open source alternatives will decrease as companies increasingly adopt fully-managed cloud solutions.

 

Our principal competitors in the cloud are the well-established public cloud providers such as AWS that generally compete in all of our markets. These enterprises are developing and have released fully-managed, data ingestion, and data streaming products, such as Azure Event Hubs (Microsoft Corporation), Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka, Amazon Kinesis and Amazon DynamoDB Streams (AWS), and Cloud Pub/Sub and Cloud Dataflow (Google).

 

On premise there are a number of vendors with legacy products that have pivoted into this space including TIBCO Streaming, Cloudera Dataflow, Redhat (IBM) AMQ Streams, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Streaming.

 

We believe the principal competitive factors for companies in our industry include the following:

 

Focus on data in motion, characterized by:

 

the ability to provide an end-to-end operationalized customer journey;

 

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mindshare and ability to drive innovation in the category of data in motion; and

 

the ability to support customers at scale with mission critical use cases.

 

Product differentiation, characterized by:

 

Cloud-native capabilities
operate at significant scale;
offer elasticity;
offer end-to-end security; and
offer flexible pricing, including pay-as-you-go delivery.

 

Completeness of offering
a complete platform for data in motion (not just low-level streaming);
rich SQL-based stream processing;
integrated data governance capabilities; and
ease of integration with connectors to a wide variety of existing applications and IT and cloud infrastructure.

 

Availability of offering
as a fully-managed service in the three leading public clouds;
as a Kuberenetes-based software offering for the private cloud;
in legacy on-premise data centers as a software product; and
ability to span all of these customer environments in one unified data-in-motion platform.

 

General competitive factors, including:

size of customer base and level of market adoption;
price and total cost of ownership;
brand awareness and reputation;
quality of professional services and customer support;
strength of sales and marketing efforts; and
adherence to industry standards and certifications.

 

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On the basis of the factors above, we believe that we compare favorably to our competitors. However, some of our actual and potential competitors have advantages over us, such as substantially greater financial, technical, and other resources, including larger sales forces and marketing budgets, greater brand recognition, broader distribution networks and global presence, longer operating histories, more established relationships with current or potential customers and commercial partners, and more mature intellectual property portfolios. They may be able to leverage these resources to gain market share and prevent potential customers from purchasing our products. Additionally, we expect the industry to attract new entrants, who could compete with our business and introduce new offerings. As we scale and expand our business, we may enter new markets and encounter additional competition.

 

Our Employees and Human Capital Resources

 

Our Community

 

Our employees are the power behind our innovation and the foundation of our business. Investing in our people is a high priority and we strive to enhance and advance our culture and community. As of December 31, 2022, we had 2,761 employees distributed across 22 countries. 62% of our employees at that time were located within the United States. Some individual employees outside of the United States may be members of trade unions or participate in staff representative bodies, including in France where we have assisted employees in forming a Social Economic Committee as required by local law.

 

Culture and Values

 

Culture is about how all employees at Confluent work together to get things done. Each part of the company has distinct norms and practices that are specific to what they do. But across Confluent, we share attributes of a common company culture that help us agree on how we will interact as a group, who we hire and help determine what kind of behavior is rewarded. Our six core values are:

 

Earn Our Customers’ Love

 

To Build a Great Company, Build a Great Team

 

Be Smart, Humble, and Empathetic

 

Be Fired Up and Get Stuff Done

 

Be Tasteful, Not Wasteful

 

One Team

 

Engagement and Communication

 

Our CEO and executives host regular all-hands meetings to keep our employees apprised of Confluent’s strategy, goals and priorities. We also conduct regular, anonymous engagement surveys to help us understand the employee experience, maintain a real-time pulse on employee engagement, and continuously action areas of opportunity as an organization. It is a quick way for management to see trends in engagement and progress on action plans. By continuing to monitor our engagement, we can impact retention and attraction of top talent to Confluent.

 

Learning and Development

 

We strive to provide a culture of curiosity and learning where employees can try new things and continually grow and develop. We offer a variety of resources to support this, including quarterly manager check-ins to facilitate development conversations, an on-demand e-learning platform and ongoing training and learning programs for employees.

 

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Compensation and Benefits

 

We aim to provide compensation and benefits that are equitable, competitive, and meet the diverse needs of our global workforce. We believe it is an important factor for our employees to have a stake in our success, which is why our total compensation packages include both cash and equity components for most roles.

 

In addition to our robust suite of medical, dental, vision, and retirement benefits, we provide employees access to mental wellbeing resources, family building benefits, and a comprehensive paid leave program.

 

In addition, we believe that our remote-first model will enable us to attract top talent and provide employees the flexibility they increasingly seek.

 

Diversity and Inclusion

 

We are committed to the principles of fairness and equality. We believe that this commitment makes us a stronger, more vibrant, and more innovative company. We seek to build an environment where every employee, regardless of background, identity, or life experience, has an equal opportunity to grow and thrive.

 

Intellectual Property

 

Intellectual property rights are important to the success of our business. We rely on a combination of copyright, trademark, trade secret laws and patents in the United States and other jurisdictions, as well as license agreements, confidentiality procedures, non-disclosure agreements with third parties, and other contractual protections, to protect our intellectual property rights, including rights in our proprietary technology, software, know-how and brand. We use open source software in our offering.

 

As of December 31, 2022, we hold two U.S. patents and have seven patent applications. We do not hold any non-U.S. patents. The patents are scheduled to expire in 2037. As of December 31, 2022, we own four registered trademarks in the United States, one trademark application pending in the United States, 36 registered trademarks in various non-U.S. jurisdictions, and 9 trademark applications pending in various non-U.S. jurisdictions.

 

Although we rely on intellectual property rights, including contractual protections, to establish and protect our intellectual property rights, we believe that factors such as the technological and creative skills of our personnel, creation of new services, features and functionality, and frequent enhancements to our platform are essential to establishing and maintaining our technology leadership position.

 

We control access to and use of our proprietary technology and other confidential information through the use of internal and external controls, including contractual protections with employees, contractors, customers, and partners. We require our employees, consultants, independent contractors, and other third parties to enter into confidentiality and proprietary rights agreements and we control and monitor access to our software, documentation, proprietary technology, and confidential information. Our policy is to require all employees, consultants, and independent contractors to sign agreements assigning to us any inventions, trade secrets, works of authorship, developments, processes, and other intellectual property generated by them on our behalf and under which they agree to protect our confidential information. In addition, we generally enter into confidentiality agreements with our customers and partners. See the section titled “Risk Factors” for a more comprehensive description of risks related to our intellectual property.

 

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Available Information

 

Our website address is www.confluent.io. Information found on, or accessible through, our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We file electronically with the SEC our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. We make available on our website at www.confluent.io, free of charge, copies of these reports and other information as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.

 

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

 

Investing in our Class A common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should consider and read carefully all of the risks and uncertainties described below, as well as other information included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, before making an investment decision. The risks described below are not the only ones we face. The occurrence of any of the following risks or additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, or results of operations. In such case, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline, and you may lose some or all of your original investment. You should not interpret our disclosure of any of the following risks to imply that such risks have not already materialized.

 

Risk Factors Summary

 

Below is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our Class A common stock speculative or risky:

Our recent rapid growth may not be indicative of our future growth. Our rapid growth also makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and may increase the risk that we will not be successful.
We have a history of operating losses and may not achieve or sustain profitability in the future. In particular, we have limited experience operating our business at current scale under economic conditions characterized by high inflation or in recessionary or uncertain economic environments.
Macroeconomic uncertainty, unfavorable conditions in our industry or the global economy, including those caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, reductions in information technology spending, or inflation, have impacted and may continue to impact our ability to grow our business and negatively affect our results of operations.
Actions that we are taking to restructure our business in alignment with our strategic priorities may not be as effective as anticipated.
We derive substantially all of our revenue from our data-in-motion offering. Failure of our offering to satisfy customer demands or achieve continued market acceptance over competitors, including open source alternatives, would harm our business, results of operations, financial condition, and growth prospects.
We intend to continue investing significantly in Confluent Cloud, and if it fails to achieve further market adoption, our growth, business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed.
Failure to effectively develop and expand our sales and marketing capabilities or improve the productivity of our sales and marketing organization could harm our ability to expand our potential customer and sales pipeline, increase our customer base, and achieve broader market acceptance of our offering.
If we are unable to attract new customers or expand our potential customer and sales pipeline, our business, financial condition, and results of operations will be adversely affected.
Our business depends on our existing customers renewing their subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments, purchasing additional subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments, and expanding their use of our offering.
If we fail to maintain and enhance our brand, including among developers, our ability to expand our customer base will be impaired and our business, financial condition, and results of operations may suffer.
The markets in which we participate are competitive, and if we do not compete effectively, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be harmed.

 

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If we or third parties with whom we work experience a security breach, or if the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of our information technology, software, services, communications, or data is compromised, our offering may be perceived as not being secure, our reputation may be harmed, demand for our offering may be reduced, proprietary data and information, including source code, could be, and has in the past been, exfiltrated, and we may incur significant liabilities.
We rely on third-party providers of cloud-based infrastructure to host Confluent Cloud. Any failure to adapt our offering to evolving network architecture technology, disruption in the operations of these third-party providers, limitations on capacity or use of features, or interference with our use could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We expect fluctuations in our financial results, making it difficult to project future results, and if we fail to meet the expectations of securities analysts or investors with respect to our results of operations, our stock price and the value of your investment could decline.
The dual class structure of our common stock as contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation has the effect of concentrating voting control with those stockholders who held our stock prior to the IPO, including our executive officers, employees, and directors and their affiliates, and limiting your ability to influence corporate matters, which could adversely affect the trading price of our Class A common stock.

 

Risks Related to Our Business and Operations

 

Our recent rapid growth may not be indicative of our future growth. Our rapid growth also makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and may increase the risk that we will not be successful.

 

Our revenue was $585.9 million, $387.9 million, and $236.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively. You should not rely on the revenue growth of any prior period as an indication of our future performance. Our revenue growth rate has declined from time to time, and may decline in the future, as a result of a variety of factors, including our focus on operating efficiency and margin improvement, the effectiveness of our sales and marketing strategies and function, our ability to continue gaining market acceptance of our offering, macroeconomic challenges and uncertainty, increased competition, and changes to technology. Overall growth of our revenue depends on a number of factors, including our ability to:

market and price our offering effectively so that we are able to attract new customers and expand sales to our existing customers;
invest in the growth of our business while adjusting our cost structure to focus on operating efficiency and improved margins;
successfully develop a substantial customer and sales pipeline for our products;
expand the features and functionality of our offering to enable additional use cases for our customers;
continue investing in our sales and marketing function to support our growth, and reduce the time for new sales personnel to achieve desired productivity levels;
extend our product leadership to expand our addressable market;
differentiate our offering from open source alternatives and products offered by our competitors;
maintain and expand the rates at which new customers purchase and existing customers renew subscriptions and committed use of our offering and increase consumption of our offering, including in light of the evolving macroeconomic environment;
provide our customers with support that meets their needs;

 

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expand our partner ecosystem, including with major cloud providers, independent software vendors (ISVs), and regional and global systems integrators;
increase awareness of our brand on a global basis to successfully compete with other companies; and
expand to new international markets and grow within existing markets.

 

We may not successfully accomplish any of these objectives, and as a result, it is difficult for us to forecast our future results of operations. If the assumptions that we use to plan our business are incorrect or change in reaction to changes in our market, or if we are unable to maintain consistent revenue or revenue growth, our stock price could be volatile, and it may be difficult to achieve and maintain profitability. As a result of our rapid revenue growth in prior periods, we expect our revenue growth rate to decline in future periods. You should not rely on our revenue for any prior quarterly or annual periods as any indication of our future revenue or revenue growth.

 

In addition, we expect to continue to expend substantial financial and other resources on:

expansion and enablement of our sales, services, and marketing organization to increase brand awareness and drive adoption of our offering;
product development, including investments in our product development team and the development of new products and new features and functionality for our offering to expand use cases and provide feature parity across third-party public cloud platforms, as well as investments in further differentiating our existing offering;
our cloud infrastructure technology, including systems architecture, scalability, availability, performance, and security;
technology and sales channel partnerships, including cloud marketplaces;
international expansion;
acquisitions or strategic investments; and
general administration, including increased legal and accounting expenses associated with being a public company.

 

These investments may not result in increased revenue in our business. If we are unable to maintain or increase our revenue at a rate sufficient to offset the expected increase in our costs, our business, financial position and results of operations will be harmed, and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability. Additionally, we may encounter unforeseen operating expenses, difficulties, complications, delays, and other unknown factors that may result in losses in future periods. If our revenue does not meet our expectations in future periods, our business, financial position, and results of operations may be harmed.

 

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We have a history of operating losses and may not achieve or sustain profitability in the future.

 

We have experienced net losses in each period since inception. We generated a net loss of $452.6, $342.8 million, and $229.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively. As of December 31, 2022, we had an accumulated deficit of $1,201.4 million. While we have experienced significant revenue growth in recent periods, we are not certain whether or when we will obtain or maintain a high enough volume of sales or level of market acceptance to achieve or maintain profitability in the future. Our revenue growth rate has declined, and may continue to decline for a number of reasons, particularly during times of macroeconomic uncertainty, resulting in a more challenging environment for acquiring new customers and maintaining existing customers as well as shifts in priorities toward operating efficiencies and margin improvements. We also expect our costs and expenses to increase in future periods, which could negatively affect our future results of operations if our revenue does not increase. In particular, we intend to continue to expend significant funds to further develop our offering, including by introducing new offerings and features and functionality, and to expand our sales, marketing, and services teams to drive new customer adoption, expand the use of our offering by existing customers, support international expansion, and implement additional systems and processes to effectively scale operations. We will also face increased compliance costs associated with growth, the planned expansion of our customer base and pipeline, international expansion, and being a public company. In addition, Confluent Cloud operates on public cloud infrastructure provided by third-party vendors, and our costs and gross margins are significantly influenced by the prices we are able to negotiate with these public cloud providers, which in many cases are also our competitors. To the extent we are able to successfully increase the percentage of our revenue attributable to Confluent Cloud, we may incur increased costs related to our public cloud contracts, which would negatively impact our gross margins. Our efforts to grow our business may be costlier than we expect, or the rate of our growth in revenue may be slower than we expect, and we may not be able to increase our revenue enough to offset our increased operating expenses. In addition, our efforts and investments to implement systems and processes to scale operations may not be sufficient or may not be appropriately executed. As a result, we may incur significant losses in the future for a number of reasons, including the other risks described herein, and unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications or delays, and other unknown events. If we are unable to achieve and sustain profitability, the value of our business and Class A common stock may significantly decrease.

 

We have a limited operating history, which makes it difficult to forecast our future results of operations.

 

We were founded in 2014. As a result of our limited operating history, our ability to accurately forecast our future results of operations is limited and subject to a number of uncertainties, including our ability to plan for and model future growth. Our historical revenue growth should not be considered indicative of our future performance. In particular, we have limited experience operating our business at current scale under economic conditions characterized by high inflation or in recessionary or uncertain economic environments. We recently also undertook an internal restructuring, including a reduction in force, and increased focus on operating efficiencies and margin improvements. Further, we have experienced, and in future periods, may continue to experience, slower revenue growth or our revenue could decline for a number of reasons, including shifts in our offering and revenue mix, slowing demand for our offering, increasing competition, decreased productivity of our sales and marketing organization and effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts to acquire new customers, retain existing customers or expand existing subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments, strategic focus on operating efficiencies and margin improvements, changing technology, a decrease in the growth of our overall market, our failure, for any reason, to continue to take advantage of growth opportunities, or our failure to adapt and respond to inflationary factors affecting our business or future economic recessions. We have also encountered, and will continue to encounter, risks and uncertainties frequently experienced by growing companies in rapidly changing industries, such as the risks and uncertainties described in this Annual Report. If our assumptions regarding these risks and uncertainties and our future revenue growth are incorrect or change, or if we do not address these risks successfully, our operating and financial results could differ materially from our expectations, and our business could suffer.

 

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Macroeconomic uncertainty, unfavorable conditions in our industry or the global economy, including those caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, reductions in information technology spending, or inflation, have impacted, and may continue to impact our ability to grow our business and negatively affect our results of operations.

 

Global business activities face widespread macroeconomic uncertainties, and our results of operations may vary based on the impact of changes in our industry or the global economy on us or our customers and potential customers. Negative conditions in the general economy both in the United States and abroad, including conditions resulting from changes in gross domestic product growth, financial and credit market fluctuations, inflation and efforts to control further inflation, including rising interest rates, international trade relations, political turmoil, natural catastrophes, warfare, and terrorist attacks on the United States, Europe, the Asia Pacific region, including Japan, or elsewhere, could cause a decrease in business investments by existing or potential customers, including spending on information technology, and negatively affect the growth of our business. As an example, in the United States, capital markets have experienced and continue to experience volatility and disruption. Furthermore, inflation rates in the United States have recently increased to levels not seen in decades resulting in federal action to increase interest rates, affecting capital markets. Such economic volatility could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, and future market disruptions could negatively impact us. In particular, we have experienced and may continue to experience longer sales cycles for new customers and existing customer expansions, reduced contract sizes or generally increased scrutiny on IT spending and budgets from existing and potential customers, due in part to the effects of macroeconomic uncertainty and challenges and the geopolitical situation in Ukraine. These customer dynamics may persist in the future, even if macroeconomic conditions improve, and to the extent there is a sustained general economic downturn, a recession, or other period when IT budgets are growing at a slower rate or contracting growth, these customer dynamics may be exacerbated. These customer dynamics have had and may continue to have negative impacts on our revenue, business, and results of operations and have resulted and may in the future result in strategic changes in our focus on growth versus operating efficiency, margin improvements, and profitability. For example, we recently adjusted our cost structure and reduced our overall headcount. Competitors, many of whom are larger and have greater financial resources than we do, may respond to challenging market conditions by lowering prices in an attempt to attract our customers, which may require us to respond in kind and may negatively impact our existing customer relationships and new customer acquisition strategy. In addition, the increased pace of consolidation in certain industries may result in reduced overall spending on our offering. We cannot predict the timing, strength, or duration of any economic slowdown, instability, or recovery, generally or within any particular industry.

 

Actions that we are taking to restructure our business in alignment with our strategic priorities may not be as effective as anticipated.

 

In January 2023, we commenced certain restructuring actions, or the Restructuring Plan, designed to adjust our cost structure and real estate footprint. We may encounter challenges in the execution of these efforts, and these challenges could impact our financial results.

 

Although we believe that the Restructuring Plan will reduce operating costs and improve operating margins, we cannot guarantee that the Restructuring Plan will achieve or sustain the targeted benefits, or that the benefits, even if achieved, will be adequate to meet our long-term profitability and operational expectations. As a result of these actions, we will incur additional costs in the near term, including cash expenditures for employee transition, notice period and severance payments, employee benefits, and related facilitation costs. Additional risks associated with the continuing impact of the Restructuring Plan include employee attrition beyond our intended reduction in force and adverse effects on employee morale (which may also be further exacerbated by actual or perceived declining value of equity awards), diversion of management attention, adverse effects to our reputation as an employer (which could make it more difficult for us to hire new employees in the future), and potential failure or delays to meet operational and growth targets due to the loss of qualified employees. If we do not realize the expected benefits of our Restructuring Plan on a timely basis or at all, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.

 

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We derive substantially all of our revenue from our data-in-motion offering. Failure of our offering to satisfy customer demands or achieve continued market acceptance over competitors, including open source alternatives, would harm our business, results of operations, financial condition, and growth prospects.

 

We derive and expect to continue to derive substantially all of our revenue from sales of, and additional services related to, our data-in-motion offering. We have directed, and intend to continue to direct, a significant portion of our financial and operating resources to developing more features and functionality for such offering. Our growth will depend in large part on enabling additional use cases for our customers after they initially adopt our offering, ranging from industry-specific use cases to use cases generated by the network effects of connecting multiple applications within an enterprise. In addition, the success of our business is substantially dependent on the actual and perceived viability, benefits, and advantages of our offering as a preferred platform for data in motion, particularly when compared to open source alternatives developed internally by customers. As such, market adoption of our offering is critical to our continued success. Demand for our offering is affected by a number of factors, including increased market acceptance of our offering by existing customers and potential new customers, effectiveness of our sales and marketing strategy and team, the extension of our offering to new applications and use cases, the timing of development and release of new offerings by us and our competitors, technological change, growth or contraction of the market in which we compete, and customer information technology spending budgets, which may be reduced during periods of high inflation or in recessionary or uncertain economic environments and may be impacted by geopolitical events such as the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Failure to successfully address these factors, satisfy customer demands, achieve continued market acceptance over competitors, including open source alternatives, and achieve growth in sales of our offering would harm our business, results of operations, financial condition, and growth prospects.

 

We have historically derived a substantial portion of our revenue from Confluent Platform, and any loss in market acceptance or reduction in sales of Confluent Platform would harm our business, results of operations, financial condition, and growth prospects.

 

While our revenue mix has increasingly shifted toward Confluent Cloud, our business remains substantially dependent on Confluent Platform, our enterprise-ready, self-managed software offering. Confluent Platform contributed 61% and 73% of our subscription revenue for the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, respectively. We expect to continue to rely on customer adoption and expansion of Confluent Platform as a component of our future growth. In particular, we are dependent on Confluent Platform serving as a fundamental self-managed, data-in-motion offering to generate wide-ranging use cases for our customers and increase our dollar-based net retention rate with existing customers. If we experience loss in market acceptance, reduced customer renewals or new customer adoption, or limited use case expansion among existing customers of Confluent Platform, our growth, business, financial condition, and results of operations may be harmed.

 

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We intend to continue investing significantly in Confluent Cloud, and if it fails to achieve further market adoption, our growth, business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed.

 

We intend to continue investing significantly in developing and growing Confluent Cloud as a fully-managed, cloud-native service. We have less experience marketing, determining pricing for, and selling Confluent Cloud. As a result, our shifts in sales strategy focused on customer acquisition for Confluent Cloud could result in near term fluctuations in our financial results as compared to prior periods, particularly if previous Confluent Platform customers shift to Confluent Cloud, given that subscriptions to Confluent Cloud have historically had a lower average price compared to subscriptions to Confluent Platform. Our sales strategy for Confluent Cloud also involves landing customers at low entry points, including starting with our free Confluent Cloud trial and pay-as-you-go, which have no commitments. There can be no assurance that such customers will enter into usage-based minimum commitments with us, expand their existing commitments, or ramp their usage of Confluent Cloud. In addition, there can be no assurance as to the length of time required to attain substantial market adoption of Confluent Cloud, if at all. The growth rate of our Confluent Cloud revenue may also fluctuate over time, including due to the usage-based nature of Confluent Cloud and customer adoption trends. To expand our potential customer and sales pipeline for Confluent Cloud, we will need to increase brand awareness, cultivate relationships with potential customers in key industries and sectors, rapidly convert the sales pipeline into new customers and continue to expand and improve the productivity of our sales and marketing organization. To increase market adoption and expand the customer base for Confluent Cloud, we have also been targeting the commercial customer segment, comprised of small to medium-sized companies, including early-stage companies, as part of our overall sales and marketing strategy for Confluent Cloud. These customers typically demand faster deployment of Confluent Cloud within their organizations and prioritize ease of use. In addition, the sales cycle for these customers is typically shorter, requiring accelerated ramp time of our sales force and higher velocity marketing strategies. We have also historically targeted larger enterprise customers as part of our overall sales and marketing strategy, which we refine from time to time, partly due to the relative size and complexity of such customers and the efforts needed to expand their usage of Confluent Cloud. If we are unsuccessful in these and our other efforts to drive market adoption of and expand the customer base for Confluent Cloud, or if we do so in a way that is not profitable, fails to compete successfully against our current or future competitors, or fails to adequately differentiate Confluent Cloud from open source alternatives, our growth, business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed.

 

We may not be able to successfully manage our growth, and if we are not able to grow efficiently, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be harmed.

 

As usage and adoption of our offering grows, we will need to devote additional resources to improving our offering’s capabilities, features, and functionality. In addition, we will need to appropriately scale our internal business operations and our services organization to serve our growing customer base. Any failure of or delay in these efforts could result in impaired product performance and reduced customer satisfaction, resulting in decreased sales to new customers, lower dollar-based net retention rates, or the issuance of service credits or requested refunds, which would hurt our revenue growth and our reputation. Further, any failure in optimizing the costs associated with our third-party cloud services as we scale could negatively impact our gross margins. Our expansion efforts will be expensive and complex, and require the dedication of significant management time and attention. We could also face inefficiencies, vulnerabilities or service disruptions as a result of our efforts to scale our internal infrastructure, which may result in extended outages, loss of customer trust, and harm to our reputation. We cannot be sure that the expansion of and improvements to our internal infrastructure will be effectively implemented on a timely basis, if at all, and such failures could harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

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The markets in which we participate are competitive, and if we do not compete effectively, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be harmed.

 

Our platform for data in motion combines and expands upon functionality from numerous traditional product categories, and hence we compete in each of these categories with products from a number of different vendors. Our primary competition, especially on-premise, is internal IT teams that develop data infrastructure software using open source software, including Apache Kafka. Our principal competitors in the cloud are the well-established public cloud providers that compete in their respective clouds. These enterprises are developing and have released managed service offerings for real-time data ingestion and data streaming, such as Azure Event Hubs (Microsoft Corporation), Amazon Kinesis, Amazon MSK, and Google Cloud Pub/Sub and Dataflow. On premise, there are a number of vendors with legacy products that have pivoted into this space including Cloudera Dataflow, TIBCO Messaging, and Red Hat AMQ Streams.

 

We currently offer Confluent Cloud on the public clouds provided by AWS, Azure, and GCP, which are also some of our primary actual and potential competitors. There is risk that one or more of these public cloud providers could use their respective control of their public clouds to embed innovations or privileged interoperating capabilities in competing products, bundle competing products, provide us unfavorable pricing, leverage their public cloud customer relationships to exclude us from opportunities, and treat us and our customers differently with respect to terms and conditions or regulatory requirements compared to similarly situated customers. In addition, if public cloud providers develop a data-in-motion offering that operates across multiple public clouds or on premise, we would face increased competition from these providers. Further, they have the resources to acquire or partner with existing and emerging providers of competing technologies and thereby accelerate adoption of those competing technologies. All of the foregoing could make it difficult or impossible for us to provide subscriptions and services that compete favorably with those of the public cloud providers.

 

With the introduction of new technologies, market entrants, and open source alternatives, including those based on Apache Kafka, we expect that the competitive environment will remain intense going forward. Because Apache Kafka is open source and there are few technological barriers to entry into the open source market, it may be relatively easier for competitors, some of which may have greater resources than we have, to enter our markets and develop data-in-motion alternatives based on Apache Kafka. In addition, the data infrastructure market is large and continues to grow rapidly, and our future success will depend in part on differentiating our offering from open source alternatives, including Apache Kafka, and other data-in-motion offerings. If we are unable to sufficiently differentiate our offering from Apache Kafka, other offerings based on or derived from Apache Kafka, or other data-in-motion offerings, we may not be successful in achieving market acceptance of our offering, which would limit our growth and future revenue. Some existing and prospective customers may elect to use certain of our data-in-motion platform functions under free-to-use licenses, which can reduce demand for our offering. Such existing or prospective customers may also have reservations about utilizing proprietary software like our offering and may instead opt to use solely open source software based on the perception that this will lower long-term costs and reduce dependence on third-party vendors. In addition, our existing customers have chosen or could in the future choose to develop similar capabilities in-house and strengthen their use of open source software, rather than continue to purchase our offering.

 

Some of our actual and potential competitors have been acquired by other larger enterprises and have made or may make acquisitions or may enter into partnerships or other strategic relationships that may provide more comprehensive offerings than they individually had offered or achieve greater economies of scale than us. Any trend toward industry consolidation may negatively impact our ability to successfully compete and may impose pressure on us to engage in similar strategic transactions, including acquisitions, which would be costly and may divert management’s attention. In addition, new entrants not currently considered to be competitors may enter the market through acquisitions, partnerships, or strategic relationships. As we look to market and sell our offering and platform capabilities to potential customers with existing solutions, we must convince their internal stakeholders that the capabilities of our offering are superior to their current solutions.

 

We compete on the basis of a number of factors, including:

ease of deployment, integration, and use;

 

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enterprise-grade data in motion;
the cloud-native capabilities of our offering;
the ability to operate at scale and offer elasticity, end-to-end security, and reliability;
the completeness of our offering, including as a complete platform for data in motion, and our ability to offer rich SQL-based stream processing, integrated governance capabilities, and connectors to existing applications and IT and cloud infrastructure;
the availability of our offering, including in multiple public clouds, and for use in private clouds and in on-premise data centers;
quality of professional services and customer support;
price and total cost of ownership;
flexible pricing, such as pay-as-you-go delivery;
sales and marketing productivity and expertise;
brand recognition and reputation; and
adherence to industry standards and certifications.

 

Our competitors vary in size and in the breadth and scope of the products offered. Many of our competitors and potential competitors have greater name recognition, longer operating histories, more established customer relationships and installed customer bases, larger marketing budgets and greater resources than we do. Further, other potential competitors not currently offering competitive solutions may expand their offerings to compete with our offering and platform capabilities, or our current and potential competitors may establish cooperative relationships among themselves or with third parties that may further enhance their resources and offerings in our addressable market. Our competitors may be able to respond more quickly and effectively than we can to new or changing opportunities, technologies, standards, and customer requirements. An existing competitor or new entrant could introduce new technology that reduces demand for our offering. In addition to product and technology competition, we face pricing competition. Some of our competitors offer their solutions at a lower price, which has resulted in, and may continue to result in, pricing pressures.

 

For all of these reasons, we may not be able to compete successfully against our current or future competitors, and this competition could result in the failure of our offering to continue to achieve or maintain market acceptance, any of which would harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

 

We expect fluctuations in our financial results, making it difficult to project future results, and if we fail to meet the expectations of securities analysts or investors with respect to our results of operations, our stock price and the value of your investment could decline.

 

Our results of operations have fluctuated in the past and are expected to fluctuate in the future due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control. As a result, our past results may not be indicative of our future performance. In addition to the other risks described herein, factors that may affect our results of operations include the following:

changes in our revenue mix and related changes in revenue recognition;
changes in actual and anticipated growth rates of our revenue, customers, and key operating metrics;
strategic shifts in focus on growth versus operating efficiency and profitability;
fluctuations in demand for or pricing of our offering;

 

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fluctuations in usage of Confluent Cloud under usage-based minimum commitments and pay-as-you-go arrangements;
our ability to attract new customers;
our ability to retain our existing customers, particularly large customers, and secure renewals of subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments, as well as the timing of customer renewals or non-renewals;
customer retention rates and the pricing and quantity of subscriptions renewed, as well as our ability to accurately forecast customer expansions and renewals;
downgrades in customer subscriptions;
customers and potential customers opting for alternative products, including developing their own in-house solutions or opting to use only the free version of our offering;
timing and amount of our investments to expand the capacity of our third-party cloud service providers;
seasonality in sales, customer implementations, results of operations (including Confluent Cloud revenue), and remaining performance obligations, or RPO;
investments in new offerings, features, and functionality;
fluctuations or delays in development, release, or adoption of new features and functionality for our offering;
delays in closing sales, including the timing of renewals, which may result in revenue being pushed into the next quarter, particularly because a large portion of our sales occur toward the end of each quarter;
fluctuations or delays in purchasing decisions by existing or future customers, including due to geopolitical or economic conditions such as inflation or in anticipation of new offerings or enhancements by us or our competitors;
changes in customers’ budgets and in the timing of their budget cycles and purchasing decisions, including due to macroeconomic factors and currency exchange rate fluctuations;
our ability to control costs, including hosting costs associated with Confluent Cloud and our operating expenses, and to realize operating efficiencies in connection with the Restructuring Plan;
the amount and timing of payment for operating expenses, particularly research and development and sales and marketing expenses, including commissions;
timing of hiring personnel for our research and development and sales and marketing organizations;
the amount and timing of non-cash expenses, including stock-based compensation expense and other non-cash charges;
the amount and timing of costs associated with recruiting, educating, and integrating new employees and retaining and motivating existing employees;
the effects of acquisitions and their integration;
general geopolitical or economic conditions, both domestically and internationally, as well as economic conditions specifically affecting industries in which our customers participate;
fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates;
the impact of new accounting pronouncements;

 

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changes in revenue recognition policies that impact our subscriptions and services revenue;
changes in regulatory or legal environments that may cause us to incur, among other things, expenses associated with compliance;
the impact of changes in tax laws or judicial or regulatory interpretations of tax laws, which are recorded in the period such laws are enacted or interpretations are issued and may significantly affect the effective tax rate of that period;
health epidemics or pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic;
changes in the competitive dynamics of our market, including consolidation among competitors or customers; and
significant security breaches of, technical difficulties with, or interruptions to, the delivery and use of our offering.

 

Any of these and other factors, or the cumulative effect of some of these factors, may cause our results of operations to vary significantly. If our quarterly results of operations fall below the expectations of investors and securities analysts who follow our stock, the price of our Class A common stock could decline substantially, and we could face costly lawsuits, including securities class action suits.

 

Our revenue mix may result in fluctuations in our results across periods, making it difficult to assess our future growth.

 

Our revenue mix is varied based on the revenue recognition principles applicable to our offering. We recognize a portion of revenue from sales of subscriptions to Confluent Platform up front when our term-based license is delivered. The remainder, constituting post-contract customer support, maintenance, and upgrades, referred to together as PCS, comprises the substantial majority of the revenue and is recognized ratably over the subscription term. Customers may use Confluent Cloud either without a minimum commitment contract, which we refer to as pay-as-you-go, or on a usage-based minimum commitment contract of at least one year in duration. Pay-as-you-go customers are billed, and revenue from them is recognized, based on usage. Customers with usage-based minimum commitments are billed annually in advance or monthly in arrears, and we recognize revenue from such subscriptions based on usage by the customer. Historically, our Confluent Cloud sales have been individually smaller, with varied usage levels from such customers over time, which may continue as we target the commercial customer segment as part of our sales strategy for Confluent Cloud. However, larger Confluent Cloud sales, including those with terms over one year, may also result in greater variations in usage levels due to the timing and size of those commitments. In addition, we have experienced and expect to continue experiencing an increased contribution from Confluent Cloud to our revenue mix. Macroeconomic impacts have caused, and may continue to cause, longer sales cycles compared to prior periods. As a result, there may be fluctuations in revenue period over period as revenue is dependent on varying patterns of customer consumption and timing of sales of Confluent Platform, which can result in larger upfront revenue recognition upon delivery of the term-based licenses, as well as revenue mix. In addition, we may experience fluctuations in margins as a result of high cloud infrastructure costs resulting from increased Confluent Cloud sales. Future fluctuations in our revenue and results across periods, including due to further changes in our revenue mix, may make it difficult to assess our future growth and performance.

 

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Downturns or upturns in our sales may not be immediately reflected in our financial position and results of operations.

 

We recognize a significant portion of our revenue ratably over the term of Confluent Platform subscriptions. As a result, any decreases in new subscriptions or renewals in any one period may not immediately be fully reflected as a decrease in revenue for that period but would negatively affect our revenue in future quarters, even though such a decrease would be reflected in certain of our key metrics as of the end of such period, including RPO. This also makes it difficult for us to rapidly increase our revenue through the sale of additional subscriptions in any period, as revenue is recognized over the term of the subscription. In addition, fluctuations in usage under our usage-based Confluent Cloud offering or monthly subscriptions for our pay-as-you-go offering could affect our revenue on a period-over-period basis. If our quarterly results of operations fall below the expectations of investors and securities analysts who follow our stock, the price of our Class A common stock would decline substantially, and we could face costly lawsuits, including securities class actions.

 

Seasonality may cause fluctuations in our sales, results of operations, and remaining performance obligations.

 

Historically, we have experienced seasonality in RPO and new customer bookings, as we typically sell a higher percentage of subscriptions to new customers and renewal subscriptions with existing customers in the fourth quarter of the year. We believe that this results from the procurement, budgeting and deployment cycles of many of our customers, particularly our enterprise customers. We expect that this seasonality will continue to affect our bookings, RPO, and results of operations in the future and might become more pronounced as we continue to target larger enterprise customers.

 

If we fail to adapt and respond effectively to rapidly changing technology, evolving industry standards, changing regulations, or to changing customer needs, requirements, or preferences, our offering may become less competitive.

 

Our ability to attract new users and customers and increase revenue from existing customers depends in large part on our ability to enhance, improve, and differentiate our existing offering, increase adoption and usage of our offering, and introduce new offerings and capabilities. The market in which we compete is relatively new and subject to rapid technological change, evolving industry standards, and changing regulations, as well as changing customer needs, requirements, and preferences. The success of our business will depend, in part, on our ability to adapt and respond effectively to these changes on a timely basis. Because the market for our offering is relatively new, it is difficult to predict customer adoption, increased customer usage and demand for our offering, the size and growth rate of this market, the entry of competitive products, or the success of existing competitive products. If we are unable to enhance our offering and keep pace with rapid technological change, or if new technologies emerge that are able to deliver competitive products at lower prices, more efficiently, more conveniently or more securely than our offering, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

To remain competitive, we need to continuously modify and enhance our offering to adapt to changes and innovation in existing and new technologies. We expect that we will need to continue to differentiate our data-in-motion platform capabilities, as well as expand and enhance our platform to support a variety of adjacent use cases. This development effort will require significant engineering, sales, and marketing resources. Any failure to effectively offer solutions for these adjacent use cases could reduce customer demand for our offering. Further, our offering must also integrate with a variety of network, hardware, mobile, cloud, and software platforms and technologies, and we need to continuously modify and enhance our offering to adapt to changes and innovation in these technologies. This development effort may require significant investment in engineering, support, marketing, and sales resources, all of which would affect our business and results of operations. Any failure of our offering to operate effectively with widely adopted, future data infrastructure platforms, applications, and technologies would reduce the demand for our offering. If we are unable to respond to evolving customer needs, requirements, or preferences in a cost-effective manner, our offering may become less marketable and less competitive or obsolete, and our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

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The market for our offering may develop more slowly or differently than we expect.

 

It is difficult to predict customer adoption rates and demand for our offering, the entry of competitive products or the future growth rate and size of the data infrastructure market. The expansion of this market depends on a number of factors, including the cost, performance, and perceived value associated with data infrastructure platforms as an alternative or supplement to legacy systems such as traditional databases, as well as the ability of platforms for data in motion to address heightened data privacy and security concerns. If we have a security incident or third-party cloud service providers experience security incidents, loss of customer data, disruptions in delivery or other similar problems, which is an increasing focus of the public and investors in recent years, the market for products as a whole, including our offering, may be negatively affected. In addition, many of our potential customers have made significant investments in alternative data infrastructure platforms and may be unwilling to invest in new products, such as our offering. If data-in-motion technology does not continue to achieve market acceptance, or there is a reduction in demand caused by a lack of customer acceptance, technological challenges, weakening economic conditions, data privacy and security concerns, governmental regulation, competing technologies and products, decreases in information technology spending or otherwise, the market for our offering might not continue to develop or might develop more slowly than we expect, which would adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

The competitive position of our offering depends in part on its ability to operate with third-party products and services, including those of our partners, and if we are not successful in maintaining and expanding the compatibility of our offering with such products and services, our business may be harmed.

 

The competitive position of our offering depends in part on its ability to operate with products and services of third parties, including software companies, software services, and infrastructure, and our offering must be continuously modified and enhanced to adapt to changes in hardware, software, networking, browser, and database technologies. In the future, one or more technology companies, whether our partners or otherwise, may choose not to support the operation of their software, software services, and infrastructure with our offering, or our offering may not support the capabilities needed to operate with such software, software services, and infrastructure. In addition, to the extent that a third party were to develop software or services that compete with ours, that provider may choose not to support our offering. We intend to facilitate the compatibility of our offering with various third-party software, software services, and infrastructure offerings by maintaining and expanding our business and technical relationships. If we are not successful in achieving this goal, our business, financial condition, and results of operations may be harmed.

 

If we are unable to successfully manage the growth of our professional services business and improve our margins from these services, our business, financial condition, and results of operations will be harmed.

 

Our professional services business, which engages with customers to help them in their strategy, architecture, and adoption of a platform for data in motion, has grown as we have scaled our business. We believe our investment in professional services facilitates the adoption of our offering, especially with larger customers. As a result, our sales efforts have focused on marketing our offering to larger customers, rather than the profitability of our professional services business. If we are unable to successfully manage the growth of this business and improve our profit margin from these services, our business, financial condition, and results of operations will be harmed.

 

We face risks associated with the growth of our business with certain heavily regulated industry verticals.

 

We market and sell our offering to customers in heavily regulated industry verticals, including the banking and financial services industries. As a result, we face additional regulatory scrutiny, risks, and burdens from the governmental entities and agencies which regulate those industries. Selling to and supporting customers in heavily regulated verticals and expanding in those verticals will continue to require significant resources, and there is no guarantee that such efforts will be successful or beneficial to us. If we are unable to successfully maintain or expand our market share in such verticals, or cost-effectively comply with governmental and regulatory requirements applicable to our activities with customers in such verticals, our business, financial condition, and results of operations may be harmed.

 

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Sales to government entities are subject to a number of challenges and risks.

 

We sell to U.S. Federal, state, and local government customers, as well as foreign and governmental agency customers, generally through resellers. Sales to such entities, whether direct or indirect, are subject to a number of challenges and risks. Selling to such entities can be highly competitive, expensive, and time-consuming, often requiring significant upfront time and expense without any assurance that these efforts will generate a sale. Contracting with certain federal government entities or resellers to such entities requires additional compliance from us and our offering, and if we fail to achieve compliance with these standards and requirements, we may be disqualified from selling our offering to such governmental entities, or be at a competitive disadvantage, which would harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. Government contracting requirements may also change and in doing so restrict our ability to sell into the government sector until we have obtained any required government certifications. Further, achieving and maintaining government certifications, such as U.S. Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) authorization for Confluent Cloud, may require significant upfront cost, time, and resources. If we do not obtain U.S. FedRAMP authorization for Confluent Cloud, we will not be able to sell Confluent Cloud, directly or indirectly, to certain Federal government and other public sector customers as well as private sector customers that require such certification for their intended use cases, which could harm our growth, business, and results of operations. This may also harm our competitive position against larger enterprises whose competitive offerings are FedRAMP authorized. Further, there can be no assurance that we will secure commitments or contracts with government entities even following such certifications, which could harm our margins, business, financial condition, and results of operations. Government demand and payment for our offering are affected by public sector budgetary cycles and funding authorizations, with funding reductions or delays adversely affecting public sector demand for our offering.

 

Further, governmental entities or resellers to such entities may demand contract terms that differ from our standard arrangements and are less favorable than terms agreed with private sector customers. Such entities or resellers may have statutory, contractual or other legal rights to terminate contracts with us or our partners for convenience or for other reasons. Any such termination may adversely affect our ability to contract with other government customers as well as our reputation, business, financial condition, and results of operations. In addition, compliance with requirements applicable to suppliers to the Federal government, including contractual requirements, regulations, and Executive Orders, may require us to change certain of our operations and involve significant effort and expense, which could harm our margins, business, financial condition, and results of operations. Governments and whistleblowers routinely investigate and audit government contractors’ administrative processes and compliance with applicable legal requirements. An unfavorable investigation or audit could result in the government refusing to continue buying our subscriptions, a reduction of revenue, suspension or debarment from government contracting, or fines or civil or criminal liability if the audit uncovers improper or illegal activities, including under the False Claims Act, which could adversely affect our results of operations and reputation.

 

Our customers also include certain non-U.S. governments, to which government procurement law risks similar to those present in U.S. government contracting also apply, particularly in certain emerging markets where our customer base is less established. In addition, compliance with complex regulations and contracting provisions in a variety of jurisdictions can be expensive and consume significant management resources. In certain jurisdictions, our ability to win business may be constrained by political and other factors unrelated to our competitive position in the market. Each of these difficulties could harm our business and results of operations.

 

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Acquisitions, strategic investments, joint ventures, or alliances could be difficult to identify, pose integration challenges, divert the attention of management, disrupt our business and culture, dilute stockholder value, and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

We have in the past and may in the future seek to acquire or invest in businesses, joint ventures, products and platform capabilities, technologies, or technical know-how that we believe could complement or expand our platform capabilities, enhance our technical capabilities, or otherwise offer growth opportunities. Further, the proceeds we received from the IPO and our convertible notes offering increase the likelihood that we will devote resources to exploring larger and more complex acquisitions and investments than we have previously attempted. Any such acquisition or investment may divert the attention of management and cause us to incur various expenses in identifying, investigating, and pursuing suitable opportunities, whether or not the transactions are completed, and may result in unforeseen operating difficulties and expenditures. In particular, we may encounter difficulties assimilating or integrating the businesses, technologies, products and platform capabilities, personnel, or operations of any acquired companies, particularly if the key personnel of an acquired company choose not to work for us, their software is not easily adapted to work with our platform, or we have difficulty retaining the customers of any acquired business due to changes in ownership, management or otherwise. These transactions may also disrupt our business, divert our resources, and require significant management attention that would otherwise be available for development of our existing business. We may also have difficulty establishing our company values with personnel of acquired companies, which may negatively impact our culture and work environment. Any such transactions that we are able to complete may not result in any synergies or other benefits we had expected to achieve, which could result in impairment charges that could be substantial. In addition, we may not be able to find and identify desirable acquisition targets or business opportunities or be successful in entering into an agreement with any particular strategic partner. These transactions could also result in dilutive issuances of equity securities or the incurrence of debt, which could adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, if the resulting business from such a transaction fails to meet our expectations, our business, financial condition, and results of operations may be adversely affected or we may be exposed to unknown risks or liabilities.

 

We may require additional capital to support the growth of our business, and this capital might not be available on acceptable terms, if at all.

 

We have funded our operations since inception primarily through equity and debt financings and sales of our offering. While we have taken steps aimed at improving our operating efficiency, including our recent Restructuring Plan, we cannot be certain when or if our operations will generate sufficient cash to fully fund our ongoing operations or the growth of our business. We intend to continue to make investments to support our business, which may require us to engage in equity or debt financings to secure additional funds. Additional financing may not be available on terms favorable to us, if at all, particularly during times of market volatility and general economic instability. If adequate funds are not available on acceptable terms, we may be unable to invest in future growth opportunities, which could harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition. If we incur additional debt, the debt holders, together with holders of our outstanding convertible notes, would have rights senior to holders of common stock to make claims on our assets, and the terms of any future debt could restrict our operations, including our ability to pay dividends on our common stock. Furthermore, if we issue additional equity securities, including through future issuances of equity-linked or derivative securities, our existing stockholders could experience further dilution, and the new equity securities could have rights senior to those of our common stock. Because our decision to issue securities in the future will depend on numerous considerations, including factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing, or nature of any future issuances of debt or equity securities. As a result, our stockholders bear the risk of future issuances of debt or equity securities reducing the value of our Class A common stock and diluting their interests.

 

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Investors’ and other stakeholders’ expectations of our performance relating to environmental, social and governance factors may impose additional costs and expose us to new risks.

 

There is an increasing focus from certain investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders concerning environmental, social and governance matters, or ESG. Some investors may use these non-financial performance factors to guide their investment strategies and, in some cases, may choose not to invest in us if they believe our policies and actions relating to ESG are inadequate. We may face reputational damage in the event that we do not meet the ESG standards set by various constituencies.

 

As ESG best practices and reporting standards continue to develop, we may incur increasing costs relating to ESG monitoring and reporting and complying with ESG initiatives. For example, the SEC has recently proposed climate change and ESG reporting requirements, which, if approved, would increase our compliance costs. We may also face greater costs to comply with new ESG standards or initiatives in the European Union. In 2022, we published our first ESG Report, which describes the measurement of our greenhouse gas emissions for 2021 and our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. In addition, our ESG Report provides highlights of how we are supporting our global workforce and our governance practices. Our disclosures on these matters, or a failure to meet evolving stakeholder expectations for ESG practices and reporting, may potentially harm our reputation and customer relationships. Due to new regulatory standards and market standards, certain new or existing customers, particularly those in the European Union, may impose stricter ESG guidelines or mandates for, and may scrutinize relationships more closely with, their counterparties, including us, which may lengthen sales cycles or increase our costs.

 

Furthermore, if our competitors’ ESG performance is perceived to be better than ours, potential or current investors may elect to invest with our competitors instead. In addition, in the event that we communicate certain initiatives or goals regarding ESG matters, we could fail, or be perceived to fail, in our achievement of such initiatives or goals, or we could be criticized for the scope of such initiatives or goals. If we fail to satisfy the expectations of investors, customers, employees and other stakeholders or our initiatives are not executed as planned, our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be adversely affected.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and could in the future have, an adverse impact on our business, operations, and the markets and communities in which we, our partners, and customers operate.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to our business operations, and could have an adverse impact on our business and operations in the future. The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our customers and our customers’ evolving response to the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult to assess or predict, and we may be unable to accurately forecast our revenues or financial results. Our results of operations could be materially above or below our forecasts, which could adversely affect our results of operations, disappoint analysts and investors, and/or cause our stock price to decline.

 

Starting in March 2020, we temporarily required employees to work remotely, and we suspended most travel by our employees. We implemented a vaccine mandate for our U.S. employees, where permissible with local, state and federal laws, and most of our employees have the flexibility to work remotely with our “remote first” work policy, which we announced in late 2021 and continue to maintain. For activities that may be conducted remotely, there is no guarantee that we will be as effective while working remotely. Because our team is dispersed, some employees have experienced, and may continue to experience, less capacity to work due to increased personal obligations (such as childcare, eldercare, or caring for family who become sick). Decreased effectiveness and availability of our team could adversely affect our results due to slow-downs in our sales cycles and recruiting and onboarding efforts, delays in our entry into customer contracts, delays in addressing performance issues, delays in product development, delays and inefficiencies among various operational aspects of our business, including our financial organization, or other decreases in productivity that could seriously harm our business. While these actions caused minor disruptions in our business and operations to date, such actions and any future similar actions could impact our competitive positioning, ability to attract and retain customers, and our growth, business, and revenue.

 

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The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a similar health epidemic or other global health emergency, is highly uncertain and subject to change. We do not yet know the full extent of potential delays or impacts on our business, operations, ability to access capital, or the global economy as a whole, including due to future waves of outbreak or new variant strains of the virus which may require re-closures or other preventative measures. While the spread of COVID-19 may be contained or mitigated, there is no guarantee that a future outbreak of this or any other widespread epidemics will not occur, or that the global economy will recover, either of which could harm our business.

 

Risks Related to Cybersecurity

 

If we, or third parties upon which we rely, experience a security incident comprising the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of our information technology, software, services, communications, or data, we could experience adverse consequences resulting from such compromise, including but not limited to, reputational harm, a reduction in the demand for our offering, regulatory investigations or actions, litigation, fines and penalties, disruptions of our business operations, or other adverse consequences.

 

In the ordinary course of our business, we and the third parties upon which we rely, may process sensitive data, which may include personal information and our or our customers’ or other third parties’ sensitive, proprietary, and confidential information. As a result, we and the third parties upon which we rely, face a variety of evolving threats, which could cause security incidents. Security incidents that compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of this information could result from cyber-attacks, computer viruses (such as worms, spyware, or other malware), social engineering (including phishing), ransomware, supply chain attacks, denial of service attacks, credential harvesting or stuffing, efforts by individuals or groups of hackers and sophisticated organizations, including state-sponsored organizations, errors or malfeasance of our personnel, including personnel who have authorized access to our systems and/or information, and security vulnerabilities in the software or systems on which we rely, including third-party systems. In particular, severe ransomware attacks, including those perpetrated by organized criminal threat actors, nation-states, and nation-state-supported actors, are becoming increasingly prevalent and severe and can lead to significant interruptions in our operations, loss of information and income, reputational harm, and diversion of funds. In addition, if our personnel access authorization policies for our systems and/or information are too permissive, we may be subject to heightened risk of security incidents due to errors or malfeasance from our personnel. Extortion payments may alleviate the negative impact of a ransomware attack, but we may be unwilling or unable to make such payments due to, for example, applicable laws or regulations prohibiting such payments.

 

Some threat actors now engage and are expected to continue to engage in cyber-attacks, including without limitation nation-state actors for geopolitical reasons and in conjunction with military conflicts and defense activities. During times of war and other major conflicts, we and the third parties upon which we rely may be vulnerable to a heightened risk of these attacks, including retaliatory cyber-attacks, that could materially disrupt our systems and operations, supply chain, and ability to produce, sell and distribute our services.

 

Additionally, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, certain functional areas of our workforce remain in a remote work environment and outside of our corporate network security protection boundaries, which imposes additional risks to our business, including increased risk of industrial espionage, phishing, and other cybersecurity attacks, including those that are state-sponsored or politically motivated, and unauthorized access to or dissemination of sensitive, proprietary, or confidential information. Future acquisitions could also expose us to additional cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities from any newly acquired information technology infrastructure.

 

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In addition, our reliance on third-party service providers could introduce new cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities, including supply-chain attacks, and other threats to our business operations. We rely on third parties to operate our critical business systems and process the sensitive, proprietary, and confidential information that we own, process, or control, including customer information and proprietary data and information, including source code. Our ability to monitor these third parties’ information security practices is limited, and these third parties may not have adequate security measures and could experience a security incident that compromises the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the systems they operate for us or the information they process on our behalf. If our third-party service providers experience a security incident or other interruption, we could experience adverse consequences. While we may be entitled to damages if our third-party service providers fail to satisfy their data privacy or security-related obligations to us, any award may be insufficient to cover our damages, or we may be unable to recover such award. In addition, supply-chain attacks have increased in frequency and severity, and we cannot guarantee that third parties’ infrastructure in our supply chain or our third-party partners’ supply chains have not been compromised.

 

Cybercrime and hacking techniques are constantly evolving, and we or third parties who we work with may be unable to anticipate attempted security breaches, react in a timely manner, or implement adequate preventative measures, particularly given increasing use of hacking techniques designed to circumvent controls, avoid detection, and remove or obfuscate forensic artifacts. These risks are likely to increase as we continue to grow and process, control, store, and transmit increasingly large amounts of data.

 

While we have taken steps designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our systems and the sensitive, proprietary, and confidential information that we own, process, or control, our security measures or those of our third-party vendors may not be able to anticipate or implement effective preventive and remedial measures against all data privacy and security threats. No security solution, strategy, or measures can address all possible security threats or block all methods of penetrating a network or otherwise perpetrating a security incident. For example, we and our third-party providers have been and may in the future be compromised by the aforementioned or similar threats, and result in unauthorized, unlawful, or accidental processing of our information, or vulnerabilities in the products or systems upon which we rely. For example, beginning in January 2021, a malicious third party gained unauthorized access to a third-party vendor, Codecov, that provides a software code testing tool, potentially affecting more than a thousand of Codecov’s customers, or Codecov Breach. In April 2021, we were notified that we had been impacted by the Codecov Breach. Through our investigations, we determined that the attackers leveraged a vulnerability in Codecov’s software to gain access to credentials in our development environment, and thereby obtained unauthorized read-only access to, and copied to overseas IP addresses, the private Github repositories containing our source code and certain internal-use documents containing references to certain customers and other customer-related attributes. Upon learning of the breach, we took action to revoke Codecov’s access and discontinued our use of the Codecov service, rotated all of our credentials identified as exposed by the Codecov Breach to prevent further unauthorized access, enhanced monitoring of our environment, and engaged a third-party forensics firm to assist in our investigation, response, and impact mitigation. We did not find any evidence of access to any customer data sent through or stored in our products, nor did we find any evidence that the attackers modified any of our source code or uploaded any malware or any other malicious code to our system. However, the full extent of the impact of this incident on our operations, products, or services may not be known for some time, and we cannot assure you that there will be no further impact in the future. This incident or any future incidents relating to the Codecov Breach could result in the use of exfiltrated source code to attempt to identify vulnerabilities in our offering, future ransomware or social engineering attacks, reduced market acceptance of our offering, injury to our reputation and brand, legal claims against us, and the diversion of our resources.

 

In addition, we do not control the content that our customers transmit, process, and maintain using our offering. If our customers use our offering for the transmission or storage of personal information and our security measures are, or are believed to have been, breached, our business may suffer, and we could incur significant liability.

 

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If we, or a third party upon whom we rely, experience a security incident that results in the compromise of the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of our systems or the sensitive, proprietary, or confidential information that we own, process, or control, or the perception that one has occurred, this could result in a loss of customer confidence in the security of our platform and damage to our brand, reduce the demand for our offering, disrupt business operations, result in the exfiltration of proprietary data and information, including source code, require us to spend material resources to investigate or correct the incident and to prevent future security incidents, expose us to legal liabilities, including litigation, regulatory enforcement (including investigations, fines, penalties, audits, and inspections), additional oversight, restrictions or bans on processing personal information, indemnity obligations, claims by our customers or other relevant parties that we have failed to comply with contractual obligations to implement specified security measures, and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

We cannot assure you that the limitations of liability in our contracts would be enforceable or adequate or would otherwise protect us from such liabilities or damages. Applicable data privacy and security obligations may also require us to notify relevant stakeholders of security incidents. Such notifications are costly, and the notifications or the failure to comply with such requirements could lead to material adverse impacts such as negative publicity, loss of customer confidence in our services or security measures, investigations, and private or government claims.

 

Additionally, we cannot be certain that our insurance coverage will be adequate or otherwise protect us with respect to claims, expenses, fines, penalties, business loss, data loss, litigation, regulatory actions, or other impacts arising out of security incidents, particularly if we experience an event that impacts multiple customers, that such coverage will continue to be available on acceptable terms or at all, or that such coverage will pay future claims. Any of these results could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Real or perceived errors, failures, bugs, or defects in our offering could adversely affect our reputation and harm our business.

 

Our offering and platform for data in motion are complex and, like all software, may contain undetected defects or errors. We are continuing to evolve the features and functionality of our data-in-motion platform through updates and enhancements, and as we do so, we may introduce additional defects or errors that may not be detected until after deployment by our customers. In addition, if our platform is not implemented or used correctly or as intended, inadequate performance and disruptions in service may result. Moreover, if we acquire companies or integrate into our platform technologies developed by third parties, we may encounter difficulty in incorporating the newly-obtained technologies into our platform and maintaining the quality standards that are consistent with our reputation. Since our customers use our platform for data in motion for important aspects of their business, any actual or perceived errors, defects, bugs, or other performance problems could damage our customers’ businesses. Any defects or errors in our data-in-motion platform, or the perception of such defects or errors, could result in a loss of, or delay in, market acceptance of our offering, loss of existing or potential customers, and delayed or lost revenue and could damage our reputation and our ability to convince enterprise users of the benefits of our offering.

 

In addition, errors in our data-in-motion platform could cause system failures, loss of data or other adverse effects for our customers that may assert warranty and other claims for substantial damages against us. Although our agreements with our customers typically contain provisions that seek to limit our exposure to such claims, it is possible that these provisions may not be effective or enforceable under the laws of some jurisdictions. While we seek to insure against these types of claims, our insurance policies may not adequately limit our exposure to such claims. These claims, even if unsuccessful, could be costly and time consuming to defend and could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

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Interruptions or performance problems associated with our offering may adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Our continued growth depends in part on our ability to provide a consistently reliable platform for data in motion. If we are unable to do so due to vulnerabilities in programming, coding errors, outages caused by our platform’s complexity or scale or due to disruptions in cloud services, or because the systems complexity and scale result in extended outages, we may experience a loss of customers, lost or delayed market acceptance of our offering, delays in payment to us by customers, injury to our reputation and brand, legal claims against us, and the diversion of our resources.

 

It may become increasingly difficult to maintain and improve the performance of Confluent Cloud as our customer base grows and Confluent Cloud becomes more complex. We may experience disruptions, outages, and other performance problems in Confluent Cloud due to a variety of factors, including infrastructure changes, introductions of new functionality, human or software errors, denial of service attacks, issues with third-party cloud hosting providers, or other security-related incidents. In addition, to the extent that we do not effectively address capacity constraints, upgrade our systems as needed, and continually develop our technology and network architecture to accommodate actual and anticipated changes in technology, our business, financial condition, and results of operations may be adversely affected.

 

We are subject to increasingly stringent and evolving U.S. and foreign laws, regulations, rules, contractual obligations, policies, and other requirements related to data privacy and security. Our actual or perceived failure to comply with such obligations could lead to regulatory investigations or actions, litigation, fines and penalties, disruptions of our business operations, reputational harm, or otherwise harm our business.

 

In the ordinary course of our business, we collect, receive, store, generate, use, transfer, disclose, make accessible, protect, secure, dispose of, transmit, share, and process sensitive, proprietary, confidential, and regulated information, including personal information, trade secrets, intellectual property, and other business information, that belongs to us or that we may handle on behalf of others such as our customers. As such, we, our customers, and third parties upon which we rely, are subject to numerous evolving and increasingly stringent foreign and domestic laws and requirements relating to data privacy and security that are increasing the cost and complexity of operating our business. These requirements may also include regulations, guidance, industry standards, policies, contractual obligations, external and internal policies and procedures, and other obligations related to data privacy and security.

 

In the United States, federal, state, and local governments have enacted numerous data privacy and security laws, including data breach notification laws, personal information privacy laws, health information privacy laws, consumer protection laws (e.g., Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act), other similar laws (e.g., wiretapping laws). For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, imposes several obligations on covered businesses, including requiring specific disclosures in privacy notices related to a business’s collection, use, and sharing of personal information, implementing new operational practices, and honoring requests from California residents to exercise certain privacy rights related to their personal information. The CCPA contains civil potential penalties for noncompliance of up to $7,500 per violation and allows private litigants affected by certain data breaches to recover significant statutory damages. In addition, the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020, or CPRA, which became effective January 1, 2023, expands the CCPA’s requirements including by applying to personal information of business representatives and employees and establishing a new California Privacy Protection Agency to implement and enforce the law. Other states, such as Virginia and Colorado, have also passed comprehensive data privacy and security laws, and similar laws are being considered in several other states, as well as at the federal and local levels. These developments may further complicate compliance efforts and may increase legal risk and compliance costs for us and the third parties upon whom we rely. Additionally, pursuant to various data privacy and security laws and other obligations, we may be required to obtain certain consents to process personal information. Our inability or failure to do so could result in adverse consequences.

 

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Foreign laws relating to data privacy and security are also undergoing a period of rapid change and have become more stringent in recent years. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation, or EU GDPR, applies in the European Union, or EU, and by virtue of section 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the United Kingdom GDPR, or UK GDPR, applies in the UK. Under the EU GDPR, noncompliant companies face fines of up to the greater of 20 million Euros or 4% of their global annual revenues for major violations and up to the greater of £17.5m or up to 4% of annual global revenues in respect of the UK GDPR. In addition to the foregoing, a breach of the EU GDPR or UK GDPR could result in regulatory investigations, reputational damage, potential bans on processing of personal information, private litigation, and/or other corrective action, such as class actions brought by classes of data subjects or by consumer protection organizations authorized at law to represent their interests. Laws in EU member states and the UK also impose restrictions on direct marketing communications and the use of cookies and similar technologies online, and a new regulation proposed in the EU called the e-Privacy Regulation may make such restrictions more stringent.

 

Furthermore, European data privacy and security laws, including the EU GDPR, generally restrict the transfer of personal information from Europe to countries outside the European Economic Area, or EEA, such as the United States, that are not considered by the European Commission to provide an adequate level of data protection. In addition, Swiss and UK laws contain similar data transfer restrictions as the EU GDPR. The European Commission recently released guidance on Standard Contractual Clauses, a mechanism to transfer data outside of the EEA, which imposes additional obligations to carry out cross-border data transfers. Although there are currently various mechanisms available to transfer data from these jurisdictions, there remains some uncertainty regarding the future of these cross-border data transfers. Countries outside of Europe have enacted or are considering similar cross-border data transfer restrictions and laws requiring local data residency and restricting cross-border data transfer, which could increase the cost and complexity of doing business. If we cannot implement a valid mechanism for cross-border personal information transfers, we may face increased risk of regulatory actions, penalties, and data processing restrictions or bans. These evolving requirements may also result in reduced demand for our services and require us to increase our data processing capabilities and other operations in Europe at significant expense.

 

Data privacy and security laws are also becoming more stringent beyond Europe. For example, in Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and various related provincial laws, as well as Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, may apply to our operations. We also target customers in Asia and have operations in China, Japan, and Singapore and may be subject to new and emerging data privacy and security regimes in Asia, including China’s Personal Information Protection Law, Japan’s Act on the Protection of Personal Information, and Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act.

 

We may also be bound by contractual obligations related to data privacy and security, and our efforts to comply with such obligations may not be successful. For example, data privacy laws including the GDPR and CCPA increasingly require companies to impose specific contractual restrictions on their service providers or processors. In addition, customers that may use certain of our offerings to process protected health information may require us to sign business associate agreements that subject us to the data privacy and security requirements under the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and the U.S. Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HIPAA, as well as state laws that govern the data privacy and security of health information. Our customers’ increasing data privacy and security requirements also increase the cost and complexity of ensuring that the third parties we rely on to operate our business and deliver our services can meet these standards. If we or our vendors are unable to meet our customers’ demands or comply with the increasingly stringent legal or contractual requirements they impose on us relating to data privacy and security, including requirements based on updated Standard Contractual Clauses, we may face increased legal liability, customer contract terminations and reduced demand for our services.

 

Finally, we may publish privacy policies, marketing material, and other documentation or statements regarding our collection, use, disclosure, and other processing of personal information. Although we endeavor to adhere to these policies, statements, and documentation, we, and the third parties on which we rely, may at times fail to do so or may be perceived to have failed to do so. Such failures could subject us to regulatory enforcement action as well as costly legal claims by affected individuals or our customers.

 

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The number and scope of obligations related to data privacy and security are quickly changing. Preparing for and attempting to comply with these obligations requires significant resources and, potentially, changes to our technologies, systems, and practices and those of any third parties that process personal data on our behalf. We strive to comply with applicable data privacy and security laws and requirements, but we cannot fully determine the impact that current or future such laws and requirements may have on our business or operations. Such laws or requirements may be inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another, subject to differing interpretations, and courts or regulators may deem our efforts to comply as insufficient. If we, or the third parties we rely on to operate our business and deliver our services, fail to comply, or are perceived as failing to comply, with our legal or contractual obligations relating to data privacy and security, or our policies and documentation relating to personal information, we could face governmental enforcement action; litigation with our customers, individuals or others; fines and civil or criminal penalties for us or company officials; obligations to cease offering our services or to substantially modify them in ways that make them less effective in certain jurisdictions; negative publicity and harm to our brand and reputation; and reduced overall demand for our services. Such developments could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Risks Related to Our Sales and Marketing Efforts and Brand

 

Failure to effectively develop and expand our sales and marketing capabilities or improve the productivity of our sales and marketing organization could harm our ability to expand our potential customer and sales pipeline, increase our customer base, and achieve broader market acceptance of our offering.

 

Our ability to increase our customer base, achieve broader market adoption and acceptance of our offering, and expand our potential customer and sales pipeline and brand awareness will depend to a significant extent on our ability to expand and improve the productivity and effectiveness of our sales and marketing organization. We plan to continue expanding our direct sales force, both domestically and internationally. We also plan to dedicate significant resources to sales and marketing programs, including to decrease the time required for our sales personnel to achieve desired productivity levels. Historically, newly hired sales personnel have needed several quarters to achieve desired productivity levels. While our recent Restructuring Plan is expected to streamline sales and marketing spend, we expect to continue investing significant financial and other resources in our sales and marketing efforts, which will result in increased costs and impact our margins and results of operations. Our revenue growth rate, business, and results of operations have from time to time been harmed and may in the future be harmed if our sales and marketing efforts fail to successfully expand our potential customer and sales pipeline and existing customer engagement with our offering, including through increasing brand awareness, new customer acquisition, and market adoption of our offering, particularly for Confluent Cloud. In addition, we may not achieve anticipated revenue growth from investing in our sales force if we are unable to hire, develop, integrate, and retain talented and effective sales personnel, if our new and existing sales personnel, on the whole, are unable to achieve desired productivity levels in a reasonable period of time or at all, or if our sales and marketing programs are not effective.

 

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If we fail to maintain and enhance our brand, including among developers, our ability to expand our customer base will be impaired and our business, financial condition, and results of operations may suffer.

 

We believe that maintaining and enhancing the Confluent brand, including among developers, is important to support the marketing and sale of our existing and future offerings to new customers and expansion of sales to existing customers. We believe that the importance of brand recognition will increase as competition in our market increases. In particular, we believe that enhancing the Confluent brand will be critical to the growth and market adoption and acceptance of Confluent Cloud due to the presence of open source alternatives, competing large public cloud providers with widespread name recognition, such as AWS, Azure, and GCP, and other data infrastructure platforms. Software developers, including those within our customers’ IT departments, are often familiar with our underlying technology and value proposition. We rely on their continued adoption of our offering to evangelize on our behalf within their organizations and increase reach and mindshare within the developer community. Actions that we have taken in the past or may take in the future with respect to Apache Kafka or our community license, including the development and growth of our proprietary offering, may be perceived negatively by the developer community and harm our reputation. Successfully maintaining and enhancing our brand will depend largely on the effectiveness of our marketing efforts, our ability to provide reliable products that continue to meet the needs of our customers at competitive prices, our ability to maintain our customers’ trust, our ability to continue to develop new functionality and use cases, our ability to successfully differentiate our offering and its capabilities from competitive products, including open source alternatives, and our ability to increase our reach and mindshare in the developer community. Our brand promotion activities may not generate customer awareness or yield increased revenue, and even if they do, any increased revenue may not offset the expenses we incur in building our brand. If we fail to successfully promote and maintain our brand, our business, financial condition, and results of operations may suffer.

 

We have a limited history with pricing models for our offering, and we may need to adjust the pricing terms of our offering, which could have an adverse effect on our revenue and results of operations.

 

We have limited experience with respect to determining the optimal prices for our offering, and, in particular, we have limited experience pricing our offering under economic conditions characterized by high inflation or in recessionary or uncertain economic environments. We have changed our pricing model from time to time and expect to continue to do so in the future. For example, in late 2019, we transitioned the primary purchase model for Confluent Cloud from a defined configuration paid annually in advance to a model based on actual monthly usage and committed annual spend. We also expect to continue providing additional features and functionality for our offering as we work toward expanding applications and use cases for our offering, which will require us to continuously evaluate optimal pricing for our offering. If we do not optimally adjust pricing for our offering, our revenue and margins as well as future customer acquisitions may be negatively impacted. As the markets for our offering mature, as macroeconomic conditions evolve, or as new competitors introduce new products or services that compete with ours, we may be unable to attract new customers at the same price or on the same terms. Moreover, enterprise customers may demand greater price concessions, or we may be unable to increase prices to offset increases in costs, including hosting costs associated with Confluent Cloud and increases related to inflationary pressures. However, our historical data and operating experience may be insufficient to adequately inform our future pricing strategies for changing market environments. As a result, in the future we may be required to reduce our prices or increase our discounting, which could adversely affect our revenue, gross margin, profitability, financial position, and cash flow.

 

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Sales to enterprise customers involve risks that may not be present or that are present to a lesser extent with respect to sales to smaller organizations.

 

As of December 31, 2022 and December 31, 2021, we had 991 customers and 734 customers with $100,000 or greater in ARR, respectively. See the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Business Metrics” for a description of ARR. Sales to enterprise customers and large organizations involve risks that may not be present or that are present to a lesser extent with sales to smaller customers, including the commercial customer segment. These risks include longer sales cycles, more complex customer requirements, substantial upfront sales costs and less predictability in completing some of our sales. For example, enterprise customers may require considerable time to evaluate and test our offering and those of our competitors prior to making a purchase decision and placing an order. A number of factors influence the length and variability of our sales cycle, including the need to educate potential customers about the uses and benefits of our offering, the discretionary nature of purchasing and budget cycles, macroeconomic uncertainty and challenges and resulting increased IT spending scrutiny, heightened security and data privacy requirements, and the competitive nature of evaluation and purchasing approval processes. Since the process for deployment, configuration and management of our offering is complex, we are also often required to invest significant time and other resources to train and familiarize potential customers with our offering. Customers may engage in extensive evaluation, testing, and quality assurance work before making a purchase commitment, which increases our upfront investment in sales, marketing, and deployment efforts, with no guarantee that these customers will make a purchase or increase the scope of their subscriptions. In certain circumstances, an enterprise customer’s decision to use our offering may be an organization-wide decision, and therefore, these types of sales require us to provide greater levels of education regarding the use and benefits of our offering. As a result, the length of our sales cycle, from identification of the opportunity to deal closure, has varied, and may continue to vary, significantly from customer to customer, with sales to large enterprises and organizations typically taking longer to complete. Moreover, large enterprise customers often begin to deploy our offering on a limited basis but nevertheless demand configuration, integration services, and pricing negotiations, which increase our upfront investment in the sales effort with no guarantee that these customers will deploy our offering widely enough across their organization to justify our substantial upfront investment.

 

Given these factors, it is difficult to predict whether and when a sale will be completed and when revenue from a sale will be recognized due to the variety of ways in which customers may purchase our offering. This may result in lower than expected revenue in any given period, which would have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

 

Our estimates of market opportunity and forecasts of market growth may prove to be inaccurate, and even if the market in which we compete achieves the forecasted growth, our business could fail to grow at similar rates, if at all.

 

Our estimates of market opportunity and forecasts of market growth may prove to be inaccurate. Market opportunity estimates and growth forecasts are subject to significant uncertainty and are based on assumptions and estimates that may not prove to be accurate, including due to the risks described in this Annual Report. Even if the market in which we compete achieves the forecasted growth, our business could fail to grow at similar rates, if at all.

 

The variables that go into the calculation of our market opportunity are subject to change over time, and there is no guarantee that any particular number or percentage of addressable users or companies covered by our market opportunity estimates will purchase our offering at all or generate any particular level of revenue for us.

 

Any expansion in our market depends on a number of factors, including the cost, performance, and perceived value associated with our platform for data in motion and those of our competitors. Even if the market in which we compete meets our size estimates and growth forecasts, our business could fail to grow at similar rates, if at all. Our growth is subject to many factors, including our success in implementing our business strategy, which is subject to many risks and uncertainties.

 

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Risks Related to Our Customers

 

If we are unable to attract new customers or expand our potential customer and sales pipeline, our business, financial condition, and results of operations will be adversely affected.

 

To increase our revenue, we must continue to generate market acceptance of our brand and attract new customers and expand our potential customer and sales pipeline. Our success will depend to a substantial extent on the widespread adoption of our offering as an alternative to competing solutions, including open source alternatives. In addition, as our market matures, our offering evolves, and competitors introduce lower cost or differentiated products that compete with our offering, our ability to sell our offering could be impaired. Similarly, our sales efforts could be adversely impacted if customers or users within these organizations perceive that features incorporated into competitive products reduce the need for our offering or if they prefer to purchase competing products that are bundled together with other types of products, such as data infrastructure platforms offered by public cloud providers. Our existing sales and marketing strategies for new customer acquisition may also be unsuccessful. For example, we offer free, limited evaluation and developer usage of Confluent Platform and free introductory usage of Confluent Cloud to encourage awareness, usage, familiarity, and adoption, and a pay-as-you-go arrangement for Confluent Cloud without minimum usage commitments. If we are unable to successfully convert these free users into paying customers, or convert pay-as-you-go customers into customers with usage-based minimum commitments, we will not realize the intended benefits of this marketing and adoption strategy. As a result of these and other factors, we may be unable to attract new customers or expand our potential customer and sales pipeline, which may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Our business depends on our existing customers renewing their subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments, purchasing additional subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments, and expanding their use of our offering.

 

Our future success depends in part on our ability to expand our customers’ use of our offering into additional use cases, our customers renewing their subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments, and our ability to develop our offering for additional use cases and applications. The terms of our subscriptions and usage-based minimum commitments are primarily one year in duration. Our customers have no obligation to renew after the expiration of the applicable term. In order for us to maintain or improve our results of operations, it is important that our customers enter into relationships with us that increase in value over time, and renew and expand their subscriptions with us, including through the use of our offering for additional use cases and applications. Although we seek to increase our revenue through expanded use of our offering by customers in additional use cases, we may not be successful in such efforts. Our dollar-based net retention rate has historically declined or fluctuated, and may further decline or fluctuate, as a result of a number of factors, including loss of one or more customers, the timing and size of any such losses, business strength or weakness of our customers, customer usage of our offering, customer satisfaction with the capabilities of our offering and our level of customer support, our prices, the capabilities and prices of competing products, decisions by customers to use open source alternatives, mergers and acquisitions affecting our customer base, the effects of global economic conditions, including increased interest rates and inflation, currency exchange rate fluctuations, or reductions in our customers’ spending on IT solutions or their spending levels generally. In addition, as some customers transition from Confluent Platform to Confluent Cloud, our dollar-based net retention rate may decline or fluctuate, at least in the short term, as those customers replace subscriptions to Confluent Platform with usage-based minimum commitments. Historically, some of our customers have elected not to renew their subscriptions with us for a variety of reasons, including as a result of competing products, internally developed or managed solutions, including those based on Apache Kafka or other open source alternatives, mergers and acquisitions of our customers, and global economic conditions. These factors may also be exacerbated if our customer base of larger enterprises continues to grow, which may require increasingly sophisticated and costly sales efforts, if large enterprises further develop internal capabilities, and if a recessionary or uncertain economic environment negatively impacts our customer base’s information technology budgets. In addition, a strengthening of the U.S. dollar could increase the real cost of our offering to our customers outside of the United States, which could result in loss of customers or reduced usage of our offering. If our customers do not renew their subscriptions and/or usage-based minimum commitments, expand their use of our offering, and purchase additional products from us, our revenue may decline and our business, financial condition, and results of operations may be harmed.

 

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If we or any of our partners fail to offer high-quality support, our reputation could suffer.

 

Our customers rely on our or our channel partners’ support personnel to resolve issues and realize the full benefits that our offering provides. High-quality support is also important for the continuation and expansion of our relationships with existing customers. The importance of these support functions will increase as we expand our business and pursue new customers. In certain cases when we provide our offering for sale by channel partners as part of their value-added offerings, our partners may be responsible for providing support and support personnel for our customers. We often have limited to no control or visibility in such cases. If we or such partners do not help our customers quickly resolve issues and provide effective ongoing support, our ability to maintain and expand our sales to existing and new customers could suffer, and our reputation with existing or potential customers could suffer.

 

Incorrect implementation or use of our offering, or our customers’ failure to update Confluent Platform, could result in customer dissatisfaction and negatively affect our reputation, business, operations, financial results, and growth prospects.

 

Our offering is often used for and within large scale, complex IT environments. Our customers and some partners require education and experience in the proper use of and the benefits that can be derived from our offering to maximize their potential. If users of our offering do not implement, use, or update our offering correctly or as intended, then inadequate performance and/or security vulnerabilities may result. Because our customers rely on our offering to manage a wide range of operations, the incorrect implementation or use of our offering, or our self-managed customers’ failure to update Confluent Platform, or our failure to train customers on how to use our offering productively may result in customer dissatisfaction, and negative publicity, and may adversely affect our reputation and brand. Our failure to effectively provide education and implementation services to our customers could result in lost opportunities for follow-on sales to these customers and decrease subscriptions by new customers, which would adversely affect our business and growth prospects.

 

Indemnity provisions in various agreements to which we are party potentially expose us to substantial liability for infringement, misappropriation, or other violation of intellectual property rights, data protection, and other losses.

 

Certain of our agreements with our customers and other third parties include indemnification provisions under which we agree to indemnify or otherwise be liable to them for losses suffered or incurred as a result of claims of infringement, misappropriation or other violation of intellectual property rights, data protection, compliance with laws, damages caused by us to property or persons, or other liabilities relating to or arising from our software, services, platform, our acts or omissions under such agreements, or other contractual obligations. From time to time, our customers and other third parties have requested, and may in the future request, us to indemnify them for such claims or liabilities. In certain circumstances, our agreements provide for uncapped indemnity liability for certain intellectual property infringement claims. Large indemnity payments could harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Although we attempt to contractually limit our liability with respect to such indemnity obligations, we are not always successful and may still incur substantial liability related to them, and we may be required to cease use of or modify certain functions of our offering as a result of any such claims. Any dispute with a customer or other third party with respect to such obligations could have adverse effects on our relationship with such customer or other third party and other existing or prospective customers, reduce demand for our subscriptions and services and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations. In addition, although we carry general liability insurance, our insurance may not be adequate to indemnify us for all liability that may be imposed or otherwise protect us from liabilities or damages with respect to claims alleging unauthorized access to or disclosure of customer data, and any such coverage may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms or at all.

 

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We typically provide service-level commitments under our customer agreements. If we fail to meet these commitments, we could face customer terminations, a reduction in renewals, and damage to our reputation, which would lower our revenue and harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Our agreements with our customers contain uptime and response service-level commitments. If we fail to meet these commitments, we could face customer terminations or a reduction in renewals, which could significantly affect both our current and future revenue. Any service-level commitment failures could also damage our reputation. In addition, if we are unable to meet the stated uptime requirements described in our Confluent Cloud agreements, we may be contractually obligated to provide these customers with service credits, which could significantly affect our revenue in the periods in which the failure occurs and the credits are applied. Any of these outcomes or failures could also adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

 

We use third-party open source software in our offering, which could negatively affect our ability to sell our offering or subject us to litigation or other actions.

 

We use third-party open source software in our offering, most significantly Apache Kafka, and we expect to continue to incorporate such open source software in our offering in the future. Many open source software licenses, including the Apache License, Version 2.0, state that any work of authorship licensed under it may be reproduced and distributed provided that certain conditions are met. However, we may be subject to suits by parties claiming ownership rights in what we believe to be permissively licensed open source software or claiming non-compliance with the applicable open source licensing terms. It is possible that a court would hold the Apache License, Version 2.0 to be unenforceable or that someone could assert a claim for proprietary rights in a program developed and distributed under it. Any ruling by a court that this license is not enforceable, or that open source components of our offering may not be reproduced or distributed, may negatively impact our distribution or development of all or a portion of our offering.

 

In addition, some open source licenses require end-users who distribute or make available across a network software and services that include open source software to make available all or part of such software, which in some circumstances could include valuable proprietary code. While we employ practices designed to monitor our compliance with the licenses of third-party open source software and protect our valuable proprietary source code, we may inadvertently use third-party open source software in a manner that is inconsistent with our applicable policies, or that exposes us to claims of non-compliance with the terms of their licenses, including claims of intellectual property rights infringement or breach of contract. Furthermore, there exists today an increasing number of types of open source software licenses, almost none of which have been tested in courts of law to provide guidance of their proper legal interpretations. From time to time, there have been claims challenging the ownership rights in open source software against companies that incorporate it into their offerings, and the licensors of such open source software provide no warranties or indemnities with respect to such claims. As a result, we and our customers could be subject to lawsuits or threats of lawsuits by parties claiming ownership rights in what we believe to be permissively licensed open source software. Resulting litigation could be costly for us to defend and harm our reputation, business, financial condition, and results of operations. If our activities were determined to be out of compliance with the terms of any applicable “copyleft” open source licenses, we may be required to publicly release certain portions of our proprietary source code for no cost, we could face an injunction for our offering, and we could also be required to expend substantial time and resources to re-engineer some or all of our software.

 

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We also regularly contribute source code under open source licenses and have made some of our own software available under open source or source-available licenses, and we include third-party open source software in our offering. Because the source code for any software we contribute to open source projects, including Apache Kafka, or distribute under open source or source-available licenses is publicly available, our ability to protect our intellectual property rights with respect to such source code may be limited or lost entirely, and we may be limited in our ability to prevent our competitors or others from using such contributed source code. While we have policies in place that govern such submissions, there is a risk that employees may submit proprietary source code or source code embodying our intellectual property, in either case, not intended to be distributed in such a manner, to such open source projects. In addition, the use of third-party open source software may expose us to greater risks than the use of third-party commercial software because open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or controls on the functionality or origin of the software. Use of open source software may also present additional security risks because the public availability of such software may publicize vulnerabilities or otherwise make it easier for hackers and other third parties to determine how to compromise our platform or the systems of our customers who are running our offering. Any of the foregoing could be harmful to our business, results of operations or financial condition, and could help our competitors develop products and services that are similar to or better than ours.

 

Our offering has evolved from Apache Kafka and other open source software, which are widely available, and therefore, we do not own the exclusive rights to the use of Apache Kafka and other open source software, nor are we able to control the evolution, enhancement, and maintenance of Apache Kafka and other open source software.

 

The technology underlying our offering has evolved from certain open source software, such as Apache Kafka, and as a result we cannot exclude other companies from adopting and modifying certain common elements of our software and that of such open source software. With open source software, competitors can also develop competing products without the amount of overhead and lead time required for traditional proprietary software development. In addition, if competing products are also based on or compatible with Apache Kafka, existing customers may also be able to easily transfer their applications to competing products. Competitors with greater resources than ours or members of the Apache Kafka community may create similar or superior offerings, or modify Apache Kafka with different, superior features, and could make such products available to the public free of charge. Our competitors or members of the open source community may also develop a new open source project or a closed-source proprietary product that is similar to and superior to Apache Kafka in terms of features or performance, in turn gaining popularity or replacing Apache Kafka as the new standard for data-in-motion technology among developers and other users. As a result, the future of Apache Kafka and other open source software could change dramatically and such change in trajectory, use and acceptance in the marketplace and resulting competitive pressure could result in reductions in the prices we charge for our offering, loss of market share, and adversely affect our business operations and financial outlook. Additionally, the development and growth of our proprietary offering may result in the perception within the open source community of a diminution of our commitment to Apache Kafka and other open source platforms. Such perceptions may negatively affect our reputation within the developer community, which may adversely affect market acceptance and future sales of our offering.

 

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Any failure to obtain, maintain, protect, or enforce our intellectual property and proprietary rights could impair our ability to protect our proprietary technology and our brand.

 

Our success depends to a significant degree on our ability to obtain, maintain, protect and enforce our intellectual property rights, including our proprietary technology, know-how, and our brand. We rely on a combination of trademarks, trade secret laws, patents, copyrights, service marks, contractual restrictions, and other intellectual property laws and confidentiality procedures to establish and protect our proprietary rights. However, the steps we take to obtain, maintain, protect, and enforce our intellectual property rights may be inadequate. We will not be able to protect our intellectual property rights if we are unable to enforce our rights or if we do not detect unauthorized use of our intellectual property rights. If we fail to protect our intellectual property rights adequately, our competitors may gain access to our proprietary technology and develop and commercialize substantially identical products, services, or technologies. In addition, defending our intellectual property rights might entail significant expense. Any patents, trademarks or other intellectual property rights that we have or may obtain may be challenged or circumvented by others or invalidated or held unenforceable through administrative process, including re-examination, inter partes review, interference and derivation proceedings, and equivalent proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (e.g., opposition proceedings), or litigation.

 

We have a limited patent portfolio. Even if we continue to seek patent protection in the future, we may be unable to obtain or maintain patent protection for our technology. In addition, our issued patents or any patents issued from future patent applications or licensed to us in the future may not provide us with competitive advantages or may be successfully challenged by third parties. There may be issued patents of which we are not aware, held by third parties that, if found to be valid and enforceable, could be alleged to be infringed by our current or future technologies or offerings. There also may be pending patent applications of which we are not aware that may result in issued patents, which could be alleged to be infringed by our current or future technologies or offerings. Furthermore, legal standards relating to the validity, enforceability, and scope of protection of intellectual property rights are uncertain. Despite our precautions, it may be possible for unauthorized third parties to copy our offering and use information that we regard as proprietary to create products that compete with ours. Patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret protection may not be available to us in every country in which our offering is available.

 

The value of our intellectual property could diminish if others assert rights in or ownership of our trademarks and other intellectual property rights, or trademarks that are similar to our trademarks. We may be unable to successfully resolve these types of conflicts to our satisfaction. In some cases, litigation or other actions may be necessary to protect or enforce our trademarks and other intellectual property rights. Furthermore, third parties may assert intellectual property claims against us, and we may be subject to liability, required to enter into costly license agreements, or required to rebrand our offering or prevented from selling our offering if third parties successfully oppose or challenge our trademarks or successfully claim that we infringe, misappropriate or otherwise violate their trademarks or other intellectual property rights. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries may not be as protective of intellectual property rights as those in the United States, and mechanisms for enforcement of intellectual property rights may be inadequate. As we expand our international activities, our exposure to unauthorized copying and use of our offering and proprietary information will likely increase. Moreover, policing unauthorized use of our technologies, trade secrets, and intellectual property may be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, particularly in foreign countries where the laws may not be as protective of intellectual property rights as those in the United States and where mechanisms for enforcement of intellectual property rights may be weak. Accordingly, despite our efforts, we may be unable to prevent third parties from infringing upon, misappropriating or otherwise violating our intellectual property rights.

 

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We enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and consultants and enter into confidentiality agreements with other third parties, including suppliers and other partners. However, we cannot guarantee that we have entered into such agreements with each party that has or may have had access to our proprietary information, know-how, and trade secrets. Moreover, no assurance can be given that these agreements will be effective in controlling access to, distribution, use, misuse, misappropriation, reverse engineering, or disclosure of our proprietary information, know-how, and trade secrets. Further, these agreements may not prevent our competitors from independently developing technologies that are substantially equivalent or superior to our offering and platform capabilities. These agreements may be breached, and we may not have adequate remedies for any such breach. Additionally, as a result of the Codecov Breach, certain of our proprietary data and information, including source code, was exfiltrated. This and any future similar incidents may lead to unauthorized use of our intellectual property rights by third parties. Third parties with access to our exfiltrated source code may also glean insights into our proprietary architecture by examining structural elements of the source code. Due to the nature of this incident, our ability to enforce our rights against such unauthorized users may be limited or not possible.

 

In order to protect our intellectual property rights, we may be required to spend significant resources to monitor and protect such rights. Litigation may be necessary in the future to enforce our intellectual property rights and to protect our trade secrets. Litigation brought to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights could be costly, time-consuming, and distracting to management, and could result in the impairment or loss of portions of our intellectual property. Further, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights may be met with defenses, counterclaims, and countersuits attacking the validity and enforceability of our intellectual property rights, and if such defenses, counterclaims, or countersuits are successful, we could lose valuable intellectual property rights. Our inability to protect our proprietary technology against unauthorized copying or use, as well as any costly litigation or diversion of our management’s attention and resources, could delay further sales or the implementation of our offering and platform capabilities, impair the functionality of our offering and platform capabilities, delay introductions of new solutions, result in our substituting inferior or more costly technologies into our offering, or injure our reputation.

 

We may become subject to intellectual property disputes, which are costly and may subject us to significant liability and increased costs of doing business.

 

Our success depends, in part, on our ability to develop and commercialize our offering without infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating the intellectual property rights of third parties. However, we may not be aware that our offering is infringing, misappropriating or otherwise violating third-party intellectual property rights, and such third parties may bring claims alleging such infringement, misappropriation or violation. Lawsuits are time-consuming and expensive to resolve, and they divert management’s time and attention. The software industry is characterized by the existence of a large number of patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and other intellectual and proprietary rights. Companies in the software industry are often required to defend against litigation claims based on allegations of infringement, misappropriation or other violations of intellectual property rights. Our technologies may not be able to withstand any third-party claims against their use. In addition, many companies have the capability to dedicate substantially greater resources to enforce their intellectual property rights and to defend claims that may be brought against them. We do not currently have a large patent portfolio, which could prevent us from deterring patent infringement claims through our own patent portfolio, and our competitors and others may now and in the future have significantly larger and more mature patent portfolios than we have. Any litigation may also involve patent holding companies or other adverse patent owners that have no relevant product revenue, and therefore, our patent applications may provide little or no deterrence as we would not be able to assert them against such entities or individuals. If a third party is able to obtain an injunction preventing us from accessing such third-party intellectual property rights, or if we cannot license or develop alternative technology for any infringing aspect of our business, we would be forced to limit or stop sales of our offering or cease business activities related to such intellectual property. Although we carry general liability insurance, our insurance may not cover potential claims of this type or may not be adequate to indemnify us for all liability that may be imposed. We cannot predict the outcome of lawsuits and cannot ensure that the results of any such actions will not have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Any intellectual property litigation to which we might become a party, or for which we are required to provide indemnification, may require us to do one or more of the following:

 

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cease selling or using offerings that incorporate the intellectual property rights that we allegedly infringe, misappropriate or violate;
make substantial payments for legal fees, settlement payments, or other costs or damages;
obtain a license, which may not be available on reasonable terms or at all, to sell or use the relevant technology; or
redesign the allegedly infringing offerings to avoid infringement, misappropriation or violation, which could be costly, time-consuming, or impossible.

 

Even if the claims do not result in litigation or are resolved in our favor, these claims, and the time and resources necessary to resolve them, could divert the resources of our management and harm our business and results of operations. Moreover, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments, and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our Class A common stock. We expect that the occurrence of infringement claims is likely to grow as the market for our platform for data in motion and our offering grows. Accordingly, our exposure to damages resulting from infringement claims could increase, and this could further exhaust our financial and management resources.

 

Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties

 

We rely on third-party providers of cloud-based infrastructure to host Confluent Cloud. Any failure to adapt our offering to evolving network architecture technology, disruption in the operations of these third-party providers, limitations on capacity or use of features, or interference with our use could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

We outsource all of the infrastructure relating to Confluent Cloud to AWS, Azure, and GCP, as selected by our customers. Customers of our Confluent Cloud service need to be able to access our service at any time, without interruption or degradation of performance, and we provide them with service-level commitments with respect to uptime. Our Confluent Cloud service depends on the ability of the cloud infrastructure hosted by these third-party providers to allow for our customers’ configuration, architecture, features, and interconnection specifications, as well as secure the information stored in these virtual data centers, which is transmitted through third-party internet service providers. Any limitation on the capacity of our third-party hosting providers, including due to technical failures, natural disasters, fraud, or security attacks, could impede our ability to onboard new customers or expand the usage of our existing customers, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations. In addition, our third-party cloud service providers run their own platforms that we access, and we are, therefore, vulnerable to service interruptions at these providers. Any incident affecting our providers’ infrastructure, including any incident that may be caused by cyber-attacks, natural disasters, fire, flood, severe storm, earthquake, power loss, telecommunications failures, terrorist or other attacks, and other similar events beyond our control could negatively affect our Confluent Cloud service. In some instances, we may not be able to identify the cause or causes of these performance problems within a period of time acceptable to our customers. A prolonged service disruption affecting our service for any of the foregoing reasons would negatively impact our ability to serve our customers and could damage our reputation with current and potential customers, expose us to liability, cause us to lose customers or otherwise harm our business. We may also incur significant costs for using alternative equipment or taking other actions in preparation for, or in reaction to, events that damage the third-party cloud services we use. Features and functionality for Confluent Cloud may also not be available on the same basis or at all on one or more infrastructure platforms, which may hinder adoption of Confluent Cloud, reduce usage, and harm our brand, business, and results of operations. Additionally, such third-party providers either have, or may develop competing products to Confluent Cloud, which may impact our ability to partner with them effectively. Any of the above circumstances or events may harm our reputation, cause customers to stop using our products, impair our ability to increase revenue from existing customers, impair our ability to grow our customer base, and otherwise harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

 

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In the event that our service agreements with our third-party cloud service providers are terminated or amended, or there is a lapse of service, elimination of services or features that we utilize, interruption of internet service provider connectivity or damage to such facilities, access to Confluent Cloud could be interrupted and result in significant delays and additional expense as we arrange or create new facilities and services or re-architect our Confluent Cloud service for deployment on a different cloud infrastructure service provider, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations. To the extent that we do not effectively anticipate capacity demands, upgrade our systems as needed, and continually develop our technology and network architecture to accommodate actual and anticipated changes in technology, our business and results of operations may be adversely affected.

 

If we are unable to develop and maintain successful relationships with partners to distribute our products and generate sales opportunities, our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed.

 

We have established, and intend to continue seeking opportunities for, partnership arrangements with certain channel partners to distribute our products and generate sales opportunities, particularly internationally. We believe that continued growth in our business is dependent upon identifying, developing, and maintaining strategic relationships with our existing and potential channel partners that can drive revenue growth in more geographies and market segments, particularly for government customers, and provide additional features and functionality to our customers. Our agreements with our existing channel partners are non-exclusive, meaning our channel partners may offer customers the products of several different companies, including products that compete with ours. They may also cease marketing our products with limited or no notice and with little or no penalty. We expect that any additional channel partners we identify and develop will be similarly non-exclusive and not bound by any requirement to continue to market our products. As our channel partnerships come to an end or terminate, we may be unable to renew or replace them on comparable terms, or at all. In addition, winding down channel partnerships can result in additional costs, litigation, and negative publicity. If we fail to identify additional channel partners in a timely and cost-effective manner, or at all, or are unable to assist our current and future channel partners in independently distributing and deploying our products, our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed. When we enter into channel partnerships, our partners may be required to undertake some portion of sales, marketing, implementation services, engineering services, support services, or software configuration that we would otherwise provide, including due to regulatory constraints. In such cases, our partner may be less successful than we would have otherwise been absent the arrangement and our ability to influence, or have visibility into, the sales, marketing, and related efforts of our partners may be limited. Further, if our channel partners do not effectively market and sell our products, or fail to meet the needs of our customers, our reputation and ability to grow our business may also be harmed.

 

We depend and rely on SaaS technologies from third parties to operate our business, and interruptions or performance problems with these technologies may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

We rely on hosted SaaS applications from third parties in order to operate critical functions of our business, including enterprise resource planning, order management, billing, project management, human resources, technical support, and accounting and other operational activities. If these services become unavailable due to extended outages, interruptions or because they are no longer available on commercially reasonable terms, our expenses could increase, our ability to manage finances could be interrupted and our processes for managing sales of our offering and supporting our customers could be impaired until equivalent services, if available, are identified, obtained, and implemented, all of which could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

Risks Related to Our Employees and Culture

 

We rely on the performance of highly skilled personnel, including senior management and our engineering, services, sales and technology professionals. If we are unable to retain or motivate key personnel or hire, retain and motivate qualified personnel, our business will be harmed.

 

We believe our success has depended, and continues to depend, on the efforts and talents of our senior management team, particularly Jay Kreps, our Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, as well as our other key employees in the areas of research and development and sales and marketing.

 

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From time to time, there may be changes in our executive management team or other key employees resulting from the hiring or departure of these personnel. Our executive officers and certain other key employees are employed on an at-will basis, which means that these personnel could terminate their employment with us at any time. The loss of one or more of our executive officers, or the failure by our executive team to effectively work with our employees and lead our company, could harm our business. We also are dependent on the continued service of our existing software engineers because of the complexity of our offering.

 

In addition, to execute our growth plan, we must attract and retain highly qualified personnel. Competition for these personnel is intense, especially for engineers experienced in designing and developing cloud-based infrastructure products and for experienced sales professionals. If we are unable to attract such personnel at appropriate locations, we may need to hire in new regions, which may add to the complexity and costs of our business operations. From time to time, we have experienced, and we expect to continue to experience, difficulty in hiring and retaining employees with appropriate qualifications, which may be exacerbated by the Restructuring Plan and any similar future actions. Many of the companies with which we compete for experienced personnel have greater resources than we have. Further, inflationary pressures, or stress over economic, geopolitical, or pandemic-related events such as those the global market is currently experiencing, may result in employee attrition. If we hire employees from competitors or other companies, their former employers may attempt to assert that these employees or we have breached certain legal obligations, resulting in a diversion of our time and resources. In addition, prospective and existing employees often consider the value of the equity awards they receive in connection with their employment. If the actual or perceived value of our equity awards declines, experiences significant volatility, or increases such that prospective employees believe there is limited upside to the value of our equity awards, it may adversely affect our ability to recruit and retain key employees. Additionally, in order to retain our existing employees and manage potential attrition, including as a result of recent stock price decreases and continued market volatility that impact the actual or perceived value of our equity awards, we have issued and may in the future issue additional equity awards, which could negatively impact our results of operations. If we fail to attract new personnel or fail to retain and motivate our current personnel, our business and future growth prospects would be harmed.

 

Our company values have contributed to our success. If we cannot maintain these values as we grow, we could lose certain benefits we derive from them, and our employee turnover could increase, which could harm our business.

 

We believe that our company values have been and will continue to be a key contributor to our success. We have increased our workforce across all departments, and despite the Restructuring Plan, we expect to continue to hire across our business in a disciplined manner to support future growth initiatives. Our headcount growth may result in changes to certain employees’ adherence to our core company values. If we do not continue to maintain our adherence to our company values as we grow, including through any future acquisitions or other strategic transactions, we may experience increased turnover in a portion of our current employee base and may not continue to be successful in hiring future employees. Moreover, many of our employees may be eligible to receive significant proceeds from the sale of Class A common stock in the public markets. This may lead to higher employee attrition rates. If we do not replace departing employees on a timely basis, our business and growth may be harmed.

 

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Risks Related to Our International Operations

 

If we are not successful in expanding our operations and customer base internationally, our business and results of operations could be negatively affected.

 

A component of our growth strategy involves the further expansion of our operations and customer base internationally. Customers outside the United States generated 36% and 38% of our revenue for the years ended December 31, 2021, and December 31, 2022, respectively. We are continuing to adapt to and develop strategies to expand in international markets, but there is no guarantee that such efforts will have the desired effect. For example, we anticipate that we will need to establish relationships with new channel partners in order to expand into certain countries, and if we fail to identify, establish, and maintain such relationships, we may be unable to execute on our expansion plans. As of December 31, 2022, approximately 38% of our full-time employees were located outside of the United States, with 9% of our full-time employees located in the UK. We expect that our international activities will continue to grow for the foreseeable future as we continue to pursue opportunities in existing and new international markets, which will require significant dedication of management attention and financial resources. If we invest substantial time and resources to further expand our international operations and are unable to do so successfully and in a timely manner, our business and results of operations will suffer.

 

We are subject to risks inherent in international operations that can harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

 

Our current and future international business and operations involve a variety of risks, including:

slower than anticipated availability and adoption of cloud infrastructure or cloud-native products by international businesses;
changes in a specific country’s or region’s political or economic conditions, including in the UK as a result of Brexit;
the need to adapt and localize our offering for specific countries;
greater difficulty collecting accounts receivable and longer payment cycles;
potential changes in trade relations, regulations, or laws;
unexpected changes in laws, regulatory requirements, or tax laws;
interest rates, as well as changes in existing and expected interest rates, which may vary across the jurisdictions in which we do business;
more stringent regulations relating to data privacy, security, and data localization requirements and the unauthorized use of, or access to, commercial and personal information;
differing and potentially more onerous labor regulations, especially in Europe, where labor laws are generally more advantageous to employees as compared to the United States, including deemed hourly wage and overtime regulations in these locations;
challenges inherent in efficiently managing, and the increased costs associated with, an increased number of employees over large geographic distances, including the need to implement appropriate systems, policies, benefits, and compliance programs that are specific to each jurisdiction;
potential changes in laws, regulations, and costs affecting our UK operations and local employees due to Brexit;
difficulties in managing a business in new markets with diverse cultures, languages, customs, legal systems, alternative dispute systems, and regulatory systems;

 

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increased travel, real estate, infrastructure, and legal compliance costs associated with international operations;
currency exchange rate fluctuations and the resulting effect on our revenue and expenses, and challenges to international customers due to a rise in the value of the U.S. dollar;
the cost and risk of entering into hedging transactions;
limitations on our ability to reinvest earnings from operations in one country to fund the capital needs of our operations in other countries;
laws and business practices favoring local competitors or general market preferences for local vendors;
limited or insufficient intellectual property protection or difficulties obtaining, maintaining, protecting, or enforcing our intellectual property rights, including our trademarks and patents;
political instability, economic sanctions, terrorist activities, or international conflicts, including the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which have impacted and may continue to impact the operations of our business or the businesses of our customers;
inflationary pressures, such as those the global market is currently experiencing, which have increased and may continue to increase costs for certain services;
health epidemics or pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic;
actual or perceived risk of economic recession;
exposure to liabilities under anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, U.S. bribery laws, the UK Bribery Act, and similar laws and regulations in other jurisdictions; and
adverse tax burdens and foreign exchange controls that could make it difficult to repatriate earnings and cash.

 

The occurrence of any one of these risks could harm our international business and, consequently, our results of operations. Additionally, operating in international markets requires significant management attention and financial resources. We cannot be certain that the investment and additional resources required to operate in other countries will produce desired levels of revenue or profitability.

 

We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates, which could negatively affect our results of operations.

 

Our subscriptions and services are billed in U.S. dollars, and therefore, our revenue is not subject to foreign currency risk. However, a strengthening of the U.S. dollar could increase the real cost of our offering to our customers outside of the United States, which could adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, an increasing portion of our operating expenses are incurred outside the United States. These operating expenses are denominated in foreign currencies and are subject to fluctuations due to changes in foreign currency exchange rates. We currently hedge a portion of operating expenses denominated in certain currencies against foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. If we are not able to successfully hedge against the risks associated with fluctuations in these currencies or if we do not hedge a sufficient portion of such operating expenses, our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

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Risks Related to Our Tax, Legal, and Regulatory Environment

 

We are subject to governmental export and import controls that could impair our ability to compete in international markets or subject us to liability if we violate the controls.

 

Our offering is subject to U.S. export controls, including the Export Administration Regulations, and we incorporate encryption technology into our offering. Our offering and the underlying technology may be exported outside of the United States only with the required export authorizations, including by license, a license exception, or other appropriate government authorizations, including the filing of an encryption classification request or self-classification report, as applicable.

 

Furthermore, we are required to comply with economic and trade sanctions laws and regulations administered by governments where our offering is provided, including the U.S. government (including regulations administered and enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of State). For example, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and other countries imposed economic sanctions and severe export control restrictions against Russia and Belarus, and the United States and other countries could impose wider sanctions and export restrictions and take other actions should the conflict further escalate. These economic and trade sanctions prohibit or restrict the shipment of most products and services to embargoed jurisdictions or sanctioned parties, unless required export authorizations are obtained. Obtaining the necessary export license or other authorization for a particular sale may be time-consuming and may result in the delay or loss of sales opportunities.

 

While we have taken certain precautions to prevent our offering from being provided in violation of export control and sanctions laws, and are in the process of enhancing our policies and procedures relating to export control and sanctions compliance, our products may have been in the past, and could in the future be, provided inadvertently in violation of such laws. Violations of U.S. sanctions or export control regulations can result in significant fines or penalties and possible incarceration for responsible employees and managers.

 

If our channel partners fail to obtain appropriate import, export, or re-export licenses or permits, we may also be adversely affected through reputational harm, as well as other negative consequences, including government investigations and penalties.

 

Also, various countries, in addition to the United States, regulate the import and export of certain encryption and other technology, including import and export licensing requirements, and have enacted laws that could limit our ability to distribute our offering or could limit our end-customers’ ability to implement our offering in those countries. Additionally, export restrictions recently imposed on Russia and Belarus specifically limit the export of encryption software to these locations. Changes in our offering or future changes in export and import regulations may create delays in the introduction of our offering in international markets, prevent our end-customers with international operations from deploying our offering globally or, in some cases, prevent the export or import of our offering to certain countries, governments or persons altogether. From time to time, various governmental agencies have proposed additional regulation of encryption technology. Any change in export or import regulations, economic sanctions or related legislation, increased export and import controls, or change in the countries, governments, persons or technologies targeted by such regulations, could result in decreased use of our offering by, or in our decreased ability to export or sell our offering to, existing or potential end-customers with international operations. Any decreased use of our offering or limitation on our ability to export or sell our offering would adversely affect our business, results of operations, and growth prospects.

 

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We are subject to anti-corruption, anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, and similar laws, and non-compliance with such laws can subject us to criminal or civil liability and harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

We are subject to the FCPA, U.S. domestic bribery laws, the UK Bribery Act, and other anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws in the countries in which we conduct activities. Anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws have been enforced aggressively in recent years and are interpreted broadly to generally prohibit companies, their employees, and their third-party intermediaries from authorizing, offering, or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or benefits to recipients in the public or private sector. As we increase our international sales and business and sales to the public sector, we may engage with business partners and third-party intermediaries to market our offering and to obtain necessary permits, licenses, and other regulatory approvals. In addition, we or our third-party intermediaries may have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or state-owned or affiliated entities. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of these third-party intermediaries, our employees, representatives, contractors, partners, and agents, even if we do not explicitly authorize such activities.

 

While we have policies and procedures to address compliance with such laws, our employees and agents may take actions in violation of our policies and applicable law, for which we may be ultimately held responsible. As we increase our international sales and business, our risks under these laws may increase.

 

Detecting, investigating and resolving actual or alleged violations of anti-corruption laws can require a significant diversion of time, resources, and attention from senior management. In addition, noncompliance with anti-corruption, anti-bribery or anti-money laundering laws could subject us to whistleblower complaints, investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, enforcement actions, fines, damages, other civil or criminal penalties or injunctions, suspension, or debarment from contracting with certain persons, reputational harm, adverse media coverage, and other collateral consequences. If any subpoenas or investigations are launched, or governmental or other sanctions are imposed, or if we do not prevail in any possible civil or criminal proceeding, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be harmed. In addition, responding to any action will likely result in a materially significant diversion of management’s attention and resources and significant defense costs and other professional fees.

 

Changes in laws and regulations related to the internet or changes in the internet infrastructure itself may diminish the demand for our software, and could have a negative impact on our business.

 

The future success of our business, and particularly Confluent Cloud, depends upon the continued use of the internet as a primary medium for commerce, communication, and business applications. Federal, state or foreign government bodies or agencies have in the past adopted, and may in the future adopt, laws or regulations affecting the use of the internet as a commercial medium. Changes in these laws or regulations could require us to modify our software in order to comply with these changes. In addition, government agencies or private organizations may begin to impose taxes, fees or other charges for accessing the internet or commerce conducted via the internet. These laws or charges could limit the growth of internet-related commerce or communications generally, resulting in reductions in the demand for internet-based solutions such as ours.

 

In addition, the use of the internet as a business tool could be adversely affected due to delays in the development or adoption of new standards and protocols to handle increased demands of internet activity, security, reliability, cost, ease of use, accessibility, and quality of service. The performance of the internet and its acceptance as a business tool have been adversely affected by “ransomware,” “viruses,” “worms,” “malware,” “phishing attacks,” “data breaches,” and similar malicious programs, behavior, and events, and the internet has experienced a variety of outages and other delays as a result of damage to portions of its infrastructure. If the use of the internet is adversely affected by these issues, demand for our subscription offering and related services could suffer.

 

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Our international operations may subject us to greater than anticipated tax liabilities.

 

We are expanding our international operations to better support our growth into international markets. Our corporate structure and associated transfer pricing policies contemplate future growth in international markets, and consider the functions, risks, and assets of the various entities involved in intercompany transactions. The amount of taxes we pay in different jurisdictions may depend on the application of the tax laws of various jurisdictions, including the United States, to our international business activities, changes in tax rates, new or revised tax laws or interpretations of existing tax laws and policies, and our ability to operate our business in a manner consistent with our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements. The taxing authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our methodologies for pricing intercompany transactions pursuant to our intercompany arrangements or disagree with our determinations as to the income and expenses attributable to specific jurisdictions. If such a challenge or disagreement were to occur, and our position was not sustained, we could be required to pay additional taxes, interest, and penalties, which could result in one-time tax charges, higher effective tax rates, reduced cash flows, and lower overall profitability of our operations. Our financial statements could fail to reflect adequate reserves to cover such a contingency.

 

Changes in tax laws or tax rulings could harm our financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

 

The tax regimes we are subject to or operate under, including income and non-income taxes, are unsettled and may be subject to significant change. Changes in tax laws, regulations, or rulings, or changes in interpretations of existing laws and regulations, could materially affect our financial position and results of operations. Many countries in Europe, as well as a number of other countries and organizations, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Commission, have recently proposed, recommended, or (in the case of countries) enacted or otherwise become subject to changes to existing tax laws or new tax laws that could significantly increase our tax obligations in the countries where we do business or require us to change the manner in which we operate our business. If U.S. or other foreign tax authorities change applicable tax laws or successfully challenge how or where our profits are currently recognized, our overall taxes could increase, and our business, financial condition or results of operations may be adversely impacted. These proposals, recommendations and enactments include changes to the existing framework in respect of income taxes, as well as new types of non-income taxes (such as taxes based on a percentage of revenue or taxes applicable to digital services), which could apply to our business. Due to the large and expanding scale of our international business activities, these types of changes to the taxation of our activities could increase our worldwide effective tax rate, increase the amount of taxes imposed on our business, and harm our financial position. Such changes may also apply retroactively to our historical operations and result in taxes greater than the amounts estimated and recorded in our financial statements. Any of these outcomes could harm our financial position and results of operations.

 

We could be required to collect additional sales taxes or be subject to other tax liabilities that may increase the costs our customers would have to pay for our offering and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

An increasing number of states have considered or adopted laws that impose tax collection obligations on out-of-state companies. Online sellers can be required to collect sales and use tax despite not having a physical presence in the buyer’s state. States or local governments may interpret existing laws, or have adopted or may adopt new laws, requiring us to calculate, collect and remit taxes on sales in their jurisdictions. A successful assertion by one or more taxing jurisdictions requiring us to collect taxes where we presently do not do so, or to collect more taxes in a jurisdiction in which we currently do collect some taxes, could result in substantial tax liabilities, including taxes on past sales, as well as penalties and interest. The imposition by state or local governments of sales tax collection obligations on out-of-state sellers also could create additional administrative burdens for us, put us at a competitive disadvantage if they do not impose similar obligations on our competitors, and decrease our future sales, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

 

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Our ability to use our net operating losses to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.

 

As of December 31, 2022, we had net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards for federal and state income tax purposes of $1,283.0 million and $689.3 million, respectively, which may be available to offset taxable income in the future. A portion of the NOLs begin to expire in various years beginning in 2034 for federal purposes and 2025 for state purposes if not utilized. The remaining portion of these federal NOLs are carried forward indefinitely. Of the federal net operating loss carryforwards, approximately 97% can be carried forward indefinitely, but are limited to 80% of annual taxable income. In addition, as of December 31, 2022, we had foreign NOL carryforwards of $60.8 million which can be carried forward indefinitely. A lack of future taxable income would adversely affect our ability to utilize these NOLs before they expire.

 

In general, under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, a corporation that undergoes an “ownership change” (as defined under Section 382 of the Code and applicable Treasury Regulations) is subject to limitations on its ability to utilize its pre-change NOLs to offset future taxable income. We may experience a future ownership change under Section 382 of the Code that could affect our ability to utilize the NOLs to offset our income. Furthermore, our ability to utilize NOLs of companies that we have acquired or may acquire in the future may be subject to limitations. There is also a risk that due to regulatory changes, such as suspensions on the use of NOLs or other unforeseen reasons, our existing NOLs could expire or otherwise be unavailable to reduce future income tax liabilities, including for state tax purposes. For these reasons, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of the NOLs reflected on our balance sheet, even if we attain profitability, which could potentially result in increased future tax liability to us and could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Changes in our effective tax rate or tax liability may have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

We are subject to income taxes in the United States and various foreign jurisdictions. The determination of our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment by management, and there are many transactions where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. We believe that our provision for income taxes is reasonable, but the ultimate tax outcome may differ from the amounts recorded in our consolidated financial statements and may materially affect our financial results in the period or periods in which such outcome is determined.

 

Our effective tax rate could increase due to several factors, including:

changes in the relative amounts of income before taxes in the various jurisdictions in which we operate that have differing statutory tax rates;
changes in tax laws, tax treaties, and regulations or the interpretation of them, including the Tax Act;
changes to our assessment about our ability to realize our deferred tax assets that are based on estimates of our future results, the prudence and feasibility of possible tax planning strategies, and the economic and political environments in which we do business;
the effects of acquisitions and their integrations;
the outcome of current and future tax audits, examinations or administrative appeals; and
limitations or adverse findings regarding our ability to do business in some jurisdictions.

 

Any of these developments could adversely affect our results of operations.

 

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Risks Related to Our Accounting Policies and Internal Controls

 

Our reported financial results may be adversely affected by changes in generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) in the United States.

 

GAAP are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the SEC, and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles. A change in these principles or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported results of operations and could affect the reporting of transactions already completed before the announcement of a change.

 

If our estimates or judgments relating to our critical accounting policies prove to be incorrect, our results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, as provided in the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates.” The results of these estimates form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets, liabilities and equity, and the amount of revenue and expenses that are not readily apparent from other sources. Significant estimates and judgments involve revenue recognition, deferred contract costs, and the valuation of our stock-based compensation awards, among others. Our results of operations may be adversely affected if our assumptions change or if actual circumstances differ from those in our assumptions, which could cause our results of operations to fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors, resulting in a decline in the market price of our Class A common stock.

 

We are obligated to develop and maintain proper and effective internal control over financial reporting, and any failure to maintain the adequacy of these internal controls may adversely affect investor confidence in our company and, as a result, the value of our Class A common stock.

 

We are required, pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Section 404, to furnish a report by management on, among other things, the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. This assessment includes disclosure of any material weaknesses identified by our management in our internal control over financial reporting. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm is required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting commencing from this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The process of compiling the system and process documentation necessary to perform the evaluation required under Section 404 is costly and challenging. We have only recently established an internal audit group, and as we continue to grow, we may hire additional accounting and financial staff with appropriate public company experience and technical accounting knowledge.

 

During the evaluation and testing process of our internal controls, if we identify one or more material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, we will be unable to certify that our internal control over financial reporting is effective. We cannot assure you that there will not be material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting in the future. Failure to maintain internal control over financial reporting, including historical or future control deficiencies, could severely inhibit our ability to accurately report our financial condition or results of operations. If we are unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm determines we have a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, the market price of our Class A common stock could decline, and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Failure to remedy any material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or to implement or maintain other effective control systems required of public companies, could also restrict our future access to the capital markets.

 

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Risks Related to Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock

 

The dual class structure of our common stock as contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation has the effect of concentrating voting control with those stockholders who held our stock prior to the IPO, including our executive officers, employees, and directors and their affiliates, and limiting your ability to influence corporate matters, which could adversely affect the trading price of our Class A common stock.

 

Our Class B common stock has 10 votes per share, and our Class A common stock has one vote per share. As of December 31, 2022, stockholders who hold shares of Class B common stock, including our executive officers and directors and their affiliates, together hold approximately 87.1% of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock, and our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kreps, beneficially owns approximately 9.3% of our outstanding classes of common stock as a whole, but controls approximately 19.5% of the voting power of our outstanding common stock. As a result, our executive officers, directors, and other affiliates and potentially our Chief Executive Officer on his own have significant influence over our management and affairs and over all matters requiring stockholder approval, including election of directors and significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or other sale of the company or our assets, for the foreseeable future. Even if Mr. Kreps is no longer employed with us, he will continue to have the same influence over matters requiring stockholder approval.

 

In addition, the holders of Class B common stock collectively will continue to be able to control all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval even if their stock holdings represent less than 50% of the outstanding shares of our common stock. Because of the 10-to-1 voting ratio between our Class B common stock and Class A common stock, the holders of our Class B common stock collectively will continue to control a majority of the combined voting power of our common stock even when the shares of Class B common stock represent as little as 10% of all outstanding shares of our Class A common stock and Class B common stock. This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters for the foreseeable future, and, as a result, the market price of our Class A common stock could be adversely affected.

 

Future transfers or voluntary conversions by holders of shares of Class B common stock will generally result in those shares converting to shares of Class A common stock, which will have the effect, over time, of increasing the relative voting power of those holders of Class B common stock who retain their shares in the long term. Certain permitted transfers, as specified in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, will not result in shares of Class B common stock automatically converting to shares of Class A common stock, including certain estate planning transfers as well as transfers to our founders or our founders’ estates or heirs upon death or incapacity of such founder. If, for example, Mr. Kreps (or family trusts to which he were to transfer shares of Class B common stock) retain a significant portion of his holdings of Class B common stock for an extended period of time, he (or such trusts) could, in the future, control a majority of the combined voting power of our Class A common stock and Class B common stock. As a board member, Mr. Kreps owes a fiduciary duty to our stockholders and must act in good faith in a manner he reasonably believes to be in the best interests of our stockholders. As a stockholder, Mr. Kreps is entitled to vote his shares in his own interests, which may not always be in the interests of our stockholders generally.

 

FTSE Russell and Standard & Poor’s do not allow most newly public companies utilizing dual or multi-class capital structures to be included in their indices. Affected indices include the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400, and S&P SmallCap 600, which together make up the S&P Composite 1500. Also, in 2017, MSCI, a leading stock index provider, opened public consultations on its treatment of no-vote and multi-class structures and temporarily barred new multi-class listings from certain of its indices; however, in October 2018, MSCI announced its decision to include equity securities “with unequal voting structures” in its indices and to launch a new index that specifically includes voting rights in its eligibility criteria. Under the announced policies, our dual class capital structure makes us ineligible for inclusion in certain indices, and as a result, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and other investment vehicles that attempt to passively track these indices will not be investing in our stock. In addition, we cannot assure you that other stock indices will not take similar actions. Given the sustained flow of investment funds into passive strategies that seek to track certain indices, exclusion from certain stock indices would likely preclude investment by many of these funds and would make our Class A common stock less attractive to other investors. As a result, the trading price, volume, and liquidity of our Class A common stock could be adversely affected.

 

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Our stock price may be volatile, and the value of our Class A common stock may decline.

 

The market price of our Class A common stock may be highly volatile and may fluctuate or decline substantially as a result of a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control, including:

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our financial condition or results of operations, including due to fluctuations in usage of Confluent Cloud and strategic shifts in our focus on growth versus operating efficiency, margin improvement, and profitability;
variance in our financial performance, including sales growth and operating margins, from our forecasts or the expectations of securities analysts;
changes in our revenue mix;
changes in the pricing of our offering;
changes in our projected operating and financial results;
changes in laws or regulations applicable to our offering;
seasonality in sales, customer implementations, results of operations, and RPO;
announcements by us or our competitors of significant business developments, acquisitions, or new offerings;
significant data breaches, disruptions to or other incidents involving our offering;
our involvement in litigation or regulatory actions;
future sales of our Class A common stock and Class B common stock by us or our stockholders;
changes in senior management or key personnel;
the trading volume of our Class A common stock;
financial results, changes in operating performance and stock market valuations of technology companies in our industry segment, including our partners and competitors;
changes in the anticipated future size and growth rate of our market; and
general political, social, economic and market conditions, in both domestic and our foreign markets, including effects of increased interest rates, inflationary pressures, and macroeconomic uncertainty and challenges; and
actual or perceived risk of economic recession.

 

Broad market and industry fluctuations, as well as general economic, political, regulatory and market conditions, may also negatively impact the market price of our Class A common stock. In addition, technology stocks have historically experienced high levels of volatility. In the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their securities have been subject to securities class action litigation. We may be the target of this type of litigation in the future, which could result in substantial expenses and divert our management’s attention.

 

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We have broad discretion in the use of the net proceeds to us from our IPO and our convertible notes offering and may not use them effectively.

 

We have broad discretion in the application of the net proceeds to us from our IPO and our convertible notes offering. Because of the number and variability of factors that will determine our use of the net proceeds from our IPO and convertible notes offering, our ultimate use may vary substantially from our currently intended use. Investors will need to rely on the judgment of our management with respect to the use of proceeds. Pending use, we may invest the net proceeds from our IPO and our convertible notes offering in short-term, investment-grade, interest-bearing securities, such as money market funds, corporate notes and bonds, certificates of deposit, commercial paper, and guaranteed obligations of the U.S. government that may not generate a high yield for our stockholders. If we do not use the net proceeds that we received in our IPO or convertible notes offering effectively, our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be harmed, and the market price of our Class A common stock could decline.

 

Future sales of our Class A common stock in the public market could cause the market price of our Class A common stock to decline.

 

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our Class A common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our Class A common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. Many of our equity holders who held our capital stock prior to completion of the IPO have substantial unrecognized gains on the value of the equity they hold based on recent market prices of our shares of Class A common stock, and therefore, they may take steps to sell their shares or otherwise secure the unrecognized gains on those shares. We are unable to predict the timing of or the effect that such sales may have on the prevailing market price of our Class A common stock.

 

Additionally, the conversion of some or all of the notes may dilute the ownership interests of our stockholders. Upon conversion of the notes, we have the option to pay or deliver, as the case may be, cash, shares of our Class A common stock, or a combination of cash and shares of our Class A common stock. If we elect to settle our conversion obligation in shares of our Class A common stock or a combination of cash and shares of our Class A common stock, any sales in the public market of our Class A common stock issuable upon such conversion could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our Class A common stock. In addition, the existence of the notes may encourage short selling by market participants because the conversion of the notes could be used to satisfy short positions, or anticipated conversion of the notes into shares of our Class A common stock could depress the price of our Class A common stock.

 

In addition, as of December 31, 2022, up to 47,500,717 shares of our Class B common stock and up to 17,751,818 shares of our Class A common stock may be issued upon exercise of outstanding stock options or vesting and settlement of outstanding RSUs, and 39,793,990 shares of our Class A common stock are available for future issuance under our 2021 Plan and our 2021 ESPP, and will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting schedules, exercise limitations and Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act. In addition, certain of our employees may elect to automatically convert their shares of Class B common stock upon receipt following exercise or settlement of equity awards, as applicable. We have registered all of the shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock issuable upon exercise of outstanding options and all of the shares of Class A common stock issuable upon vesting and settlement of restricted stock units, as well as other equity incentive awards we may grant in the future for public resale under the Securities Act. Shares of Class A common stock will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent such options are exercised and restricted stock units settle, subject to compliance with applicable securities laws. Our 0% convertible senior notes due 2027 will also become convertible at the option of the holders, subject to certain limitations and restrictions prior to October 15, 2026. If these additional shares of Class A common stock are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold, in the public market, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline.

 

Further, certain holders of our outstanding common stock, including our founders and entities affiliated with our founders and certain of our directors, have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering the sale of their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other stockholders.

 

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Our issuance of additional capital stock in connection with financings, acquisitions, investments, our equity incentive plans or otherwise will dilute all other stockholders.

 

We expect to issue additional capital stock in the future that will result in dilution to all other stockholders. We expect to grant equity awards to employees, officers and directors under our equity incentive plans. We may also raise capital through equity financings in the future. As part of our business strategy, we may acquire or make investments in companies, products or technologies and issue equity securities to pay for any such acquisition or investment. Any such issuances of additional capital stock may cause stockholders to experience significant dilution of their ownership interests and the per share value of our Class A common stock to decline.

 

We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future and, as a result, your ability to achieve a return on your investment will depend on appreciation in the price of our Class A common stock.

 

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock, and we do not intend to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors. Accordingly, you may need to rely on sales of our Class A common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize any future gains on your investment.

 

We incur significant costs as a result of operating as a public company, and our management is required to devote substantial time to compliance with our public company responsibilities and corporate governance practices.

 

As a public company, we incur significant legal, accounting, and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. We expect such expenses to further increase now that we are no longer an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of the Nasdaq Global Select Market, and other applicable securities rules and regulations impose various requirements on public companies. Our management and other personnel devote a substantial amount of time to compliance with these requirements. Moreover, these rules and regulations have increased our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. We cannot predict or estimate the amount of additional costs we will incur as a public company or the specific timing of such costs.

 

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Anti-takeover provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of our company more difficult, limit attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management and limit the market price of our Class A common stock.

 

Provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may have the effect of preventing a change of control or changes in our management. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws include provisions that:

authorize our board of directors to issue, without further action by the stockholders, shares of undesignated preferred stock with terms, rights, and preferences determined by our board of directors that may be senior to our Class A common stock;
require that any action to be taken by our stockholders be effected at a duly called annual or special meeting and not by written consent;
specify that special meetings of our stockholders can be called only by our board of directors, the chairperson of our board of directors, our chief executive officer, or our president (in the absence of a chief executive officer);
establish an advance notice procedure for stockholder proposals to be brought before an annual meeting, including proposed nominations of persons for election to our board of directors;
establish that our board of directors is divided into three classes, with each class serving three-year staggered terms;
prohibit cumulative voting in the election of directors;
provide that our directors may be removed for cause only upon the vote of the holders of at least a majority of our outstanding shares of voting stock;
provide that vacancies on our board of directors may be filled only by the affirmative vote of a majority of directors then in office, even though less than a quorum, or by a sole remaining director; and
require the approval of our board of directors or the holders of at least 66 2/3% of the voting power of our outstanding shares of voting stock to amend our bylaws and certain provisions of our certificate of incorporation.

 

These provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors, which is responsible for appointing the members of our management. In addition, because we are incorporated in Delaware, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which generally, subject to certain exceptions, prohibits a Delaware corporation from engaging in any of a broad range of business combinations with any “interested” stockholder for a period of three years following the date on which the stockholder became an “interested” stockholder. Any of the foregoing provisions could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our Class A common stock, and they could deter potential acquirers of our company, thereby reducing the likelihood that holders of our Class A common stock would receive a premium for their shares of our Class A common stock in an acquisition.

 

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Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware and the federal district courts of the United States of America as the exclusive forums for certain disputes between us and our stockholders, which restricts our stockholders’ ability to choose the judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.

 

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if and only if the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware lacks subject matter jurisdiction, any state court located within the State of Delaware or, if and only if all such state courts lack subject matter jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware) is the sole and exclusive forum for the following types of actions or proceedings under Delaware statutory or common law: (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (ii) any action or proceeding asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our current or former directors, officers, or other employees to us or our stockholders, or any action asserting a claim for aiding and abetting such breach of fiduciary duty; (iii) any action or proceeding asserting a claim against us or any of our current or former directors, officers or other employees arising out of or pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws; (iv) any action or proceeding to interpret, apply, enforce or determine the validity of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws (including any right, obligation, or remedy thereunder); (v) any action or proceeding as to which the Delaware General Corporation Law confers jurisdiction to the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; and (vi) any action or proceeding asserting a claim against us or any of our current or former directors, officers, or other employees that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in all cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and subject to the court’s having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants. This provision does not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. In addition, to prevent having to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions and the threat of inconsistent or contrary rulings by different courts, among other considerations, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the federal district courts of the United States of America are the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, including all causes of action asserted against any defendant named in such complaint. For the avoidance of doubt, this provision is intended to benefit and may be enforced by us, our officers and directors, the underwriters to any offering giving rise to such complaint, and any other professional entity whose profession gives authority to a statement made by that person or entity and who has prepared or certified any part of the documents underlying the offering. However, as Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Securities Act or the rules and regulations thereunder, there is uncertainty as to whether a court would enforce such provision. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation further provides that any person or entity holding, owning or otherwise acquiring any interest in any of our securities shall be deemed to have notice of and consented to these provisions. Investors also cannot waive compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.

 

These choice of forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees. While the Delaware courts have determined that such choice of forum provisions are facially valid, a stockholder may nevertheless seek to bring such a claim arising under the Securities Act against us, our directors, officers, or other employees in a venue other than in the federal district courts of the United States of America. In such instance, we would expect to vigorously assert the validity and enforceability of the exclusive forum provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. This may require significant additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions and we cannot assure you that the provisions will be enforced by a court in those other jurisdictions. If a court were to find either exclusive-forum provision in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur further significant additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, all of which could harm our business.

 

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Risks Related to Our Convertible Senior Notes

 

We may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to settle conversions of the notes in cash or to repurchase the notes upon a fundamental change, and our future debt may contain limitations on our ability to pay cash upon conversion or repurchase of the notes.

 

Holders of the notes have the right, subject to certain conditions and limited exceptions, to require us to repurchase all or a portion of their notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change at a fundamental change repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid special interest. In addition, upon conversion of the notes, unless we elect to deliver solely shares of our Class A common stock to settle such conversion (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we will be required to make cash payments in respect of the notes being converted. However, we may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make repurchases of notes surrendered therefor or pay cash with respect to notes being converted. In addition, our ability to repurchase the notes or to pay cash upon conversions of the notes may be limited by law, by regulatory authority or by agreements governing our future indebtedness. Our failure to repurchase notes at a time when the repurchase is required by the indenture or to pay any cash payable on future conversions of the notes as required by the indenture would constitute a default under the indenture. A default under the indenture governing the notes or the fundamental change itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our future indebtedness. If the repayment of the related indebtedness were to be accelerated after any applicable notice or grace periods, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and repurchase the notes or make cash payments upon conversions thereof.

 

The conditional conversion feature of the notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.

 

In the event the conditional conversion feature of the notes is triggered, holders of notes will be entitled to convert their notes at any time during specified periods at their option. If one or more holders elect to convert their notes, unless we elect to satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering solely shares of our Class A common stock (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we would be required to settle a portion or all of our conversion obligation through the payment of cash, which could adversely affect our liquidity. In addition, even if holders do not elect to convert their notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of the notes as a current rather than long-term liability, which would result in a material reduction of our net working capital.

 

Certain provisions in the indenture governing the notes may delay or prevent an otherwise beneficial takeover attempt of us.

 

Certain provisions in the indenture governing the notes may make it more difficult or expensive for a third party to acquire us. For example, the indenture governing the notes generally requires us to repurchase the notes for cash upon the occurrence of a fundamental change and, in certain circumstances, to increase the conversion rate for a holder that converts its notes in connection with a make-whole fundamental change. A takeover of us may trigger the requirement that we repurchase the notes and/or increase the conversion rate, which could make it costlier for a potential acquirer to engage in such takeover. Such additional costs may have the effect of delaying or preventing a takeover of us that would otherwise be beneficial to investors.

 

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General Risk Factors

 

Any future litigation against us could be costly and time-consuming to defend.

 

We may become subject to legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of business, including but not limited to, intellectual property claims, including trade secret misappropriation and breaches of confidentiality terms, alleged breaches of non-competition or non-solicitation terms, or employment claims made by our current or former employees. Litigation might result in substantial costs and may divert management’s attention and resources, which might seriously harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Insurance might not cover such claims, might not provide sufficient payments to cover all the costs to resolve one or more such claims, and might not continue to be available on terms acceptable to us. A claim brought against us that is uninsured or underinsured could result in unanticipated costs, potentially harming our business, financial position, and results of operations.

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish unfavorable or inaccurate research about our business, the market price and trading volume of our Class A common stock could decline.

 

The market price and trading volume of our Class A common stock is heavily influenced by the way analysts interpret our financial information and other disclosures. We do not have control over these analysts. If industry analysts cease coverage of us, our stock price would be negatively affected. If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, downgrade our Class A common stock, or publish negative reports about our business, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our Class A common stock could decrease, which might cause our stock price to decline and could decrease the trading volume of our Class A common stock.

 

Our business could be disrupted by catastrophic events.

 

Occurrence of any catastrophic event, including earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, or other weather event, power loss, telecommunications failure, software or hardware malfunction, cyber-attack, war, or terrorist attack, explosion, or pandemic could impact our business. In particular, our corporate headquarters are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region known for seismic activity, and are thus vulnerable to damage in an earthquake. Our insurance coverage may not compensate us for losses that may occur in the event of an earthquake or other significant natural disaster. Additionally, we rely on third-party cloud providers and enterprise applications, technology systems, and our website for our development, marketing, operational support, hosted services, and sales activities. In the event of a catastrophic event, we may be unable to continue our operations and may endure system interruptions, reputational harm, delays in our product development, lengthy interruptions in our services, and security incidents, all of which could have an adverse effect on our future results of operations. If we are unable to develop adequate plans to ensure that our business functions continue to operate during and after a disaster and to execute successfully on those plans in the event of a disaster or emergency, our business would be harmed.

 

Climate change may have an impact on our business.

 

While we seek to mitigate our business risks associated with climate change (such as drought, wildfires, hurricanes, increased storm severity and sea level rise), we recognize that there are inherent climate-related risks wherever business is conducted. Our primary locations may be vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. For example, certain of our offices have experienced, and are projected to continue to experience, climate-related events at an increasing frequency, including drought, heat waves, wildfires and resultant air quality impacts and power shutoffs associated with wildfire prevention. Changing market dynamics, global policy developments and the increasing frequency and impact of extreme weather events on critical infrastructure in the U.S. and elsewhere have the potential to disrupt our business, the business of our third-party suppliers and the business of our customers, and may cause us to experience losses and additional costs to maintain or resume operations. In addition, we may be subject to increased regulations, reporting requirements, standards or expectations regarding the environmental impacts of our business.

 

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Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

Item 2. Properties

 

Our headquarters are located in Mountain View, California, where we lease approximately 75,475 square feet pursuant to a lease which expires in 2029. We also lease other offices including in Austin, Texas, London, England, Bengaluru, India, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Additionally, we hold many short-term office service memberships in numerous other locations globally. We do not own any real property. We believe that our facilities are adequate to meet our current needs.

 

 

From time to time, we have been and will continue to be subject to legal proceedings and claims. We are not presently a party to any legal proceedings that, if determined adversely to us, would individually or taken together have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, or cash flows. Defending such legal proceedings is costly and can impose a significant burden on management and employees. The results of any current or future litigation cannot be predicted with certainty, and regardless of the outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources, and other factors.

 

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

 

None.

 

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PART II

 

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Market Information

 

Our Class A common stock has been listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “CFLT” since June 24, 2021. Prior to that date, there was no public trading market for our Class A common stock.

 

Holders of Record

 

As of February 8, 2023, there were 95 stockholders of record of our Class A common stock and 42 stockholders of record of our Class B common stock. The actual number of holders of our Class A common stock is greater than the number of record holders and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners, but whose shares are held in street name by brokers or other nominees. The number of holders of record presented here also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.

 

Dividends

 

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business, and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination regarding the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, operating results, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects, and other factors our board of directors may deem relevant. In addition, our ability to pay dividends may be restricted by agreements we may enter into in the future.

 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

 

None.

 

Use of Proceeds

 

On June 28, 2021, we closed our IPO of 23,000,000 shares of Class A common stock at an offering price of $36.00 per share, resulting in aggregate gross proceeds to us of $828.0 million, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses. All of the shares issued and sold in our IPO were registered under the Securities Act pursuant to a registration statement on Form S-1, as amended (File No. 333-256693), which was declared effective by the SEC on June 23, 2021. There has been no material change in the planned use of proceeds from our IPO from those disclosed in our final prospectus for our IPO dated as of June 23, 2021 and filed with the SEC pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4) on June 25, 2021.

 

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

None.

 

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Stock Performance Graph

 

The following shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC, for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any of our filings under the Securities Act.

 

The performance graph below compares the cumulative total return on our Class A common stock from June 24, 2021 (the date our Class A common stock commenced trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market) through December 31, 2022 with (i) the Nasdaq Composite Index and (ii) the Nasdaq Computer Index, assuming the investment of $100 in our Class A common stock and in both of the other indices on June 24, 2021 and the reinvestment of dividends. The stock price performance on this performance graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

 

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Item 6. Reserved

 

 

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion, particularly information with respect to our future results of operations or financial condition, business strategy and plans, and objectives of management for future operations, includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties as described under the heading “Special Note About Forward-Looking Statements” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. You should review the disclosure under the heading “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Unless the context otherwise requires, all references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to “we,” “us,” “our,” “our company,” and “Confluent” refer to Confluent, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. Unless otherwise indicated, references to our “common stock” include our Class A common stock and Class B common stock.

 

A discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2022 compared to the year ended December 31, 2021 is presented below. A discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020 can be found in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on February 24, 2022.

 

Overview

 

Confluent is on a mission to set data in motion. We were founded in 2014 to pioneer this fundamentally new category of data infrastructure designed to connect all the applications, systems, and data layers of a company around a real-time central nervous system. This new data infrastructure software has emerged as one of the most strategic parts of the next-generation technology stack, and using this stack to harness data in motion is critical to the success of every modern company as they strive to compete and win in the digital-first world. Prior to Confluent, our founders created the open source software project Apache Kafka, a technology that has been central to enabling data in motion. Since our founding, we have heavily invested in product development to build a complete, cloud-native platform for data in motion.

 

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Confluent is designed to act as the nexus of real-time data, from every source, allowing it to stream across the organization and enabling applications to harness it to power real-time customer experiences and data-driven business operations. Our offering enables organizations to deploy production-ready applications that span across cloud environments and data centers, while scaling elastically with enhanced features for security, compliance, and governance. Our platform provides the capabilities to fill the structural, operational, and engineering gaps required for businesses to fully realize the power of data in motion. We enable software developers to easily build their initial applications to harness data in motion, and enable large, complex enterprises to make data in motion core to everything they do. As organizations mature in their adoption cycle, we enable them to quickly, securely, and reliably build more and more applications that take advantage of data in motion. The results have a dual effect: businesses continuously improve their ability to provide better customer experiences and concurrently drive data-driven business operations. We believe that Confluent, over time, will become the central nervous system for modern digital enterprises, providing ubiquitous real-time connectivity and powering real-time applications across the enterprise.

 

We generate our revenue primarily from the sale of subscriptions to our offering that can be deployed in two different ways. Confluent Platform is an enterprise-ready, self-managed software offering that can be deployed in our customers’ on-premise, private cloud, and public cloud environments. Confluent Cloud is a fully-managed, cloud-native software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) offering available on all of the leading cloud providers. Confluent Platform and Confluent Cloud can be leveraged independently or together, spanning the various public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise environments in which our customers operate.

 

Confluent Platform customers receive access to our proprietary features and various tiers of customer support. Our Confluent Platform subscriptions primarily have one-year terms and are generally billed annually in advance. Confluent Cloud customers may purchase subscriptions either without a minimum commitment contract on a month-to-month basis, which we refer to as pay-as-you-go, or under a usage-based minimum commitment contract of at least one year in duration, in which customers commit to a fixed minimum monetary amount at specified per-usage rates. Pay-as-you-go customers are billed, and revenue from them is recognized, based on usage. Customers with usage-based minimum commitments are typically billed annually in advance or monthly in arrears, and we recognize revenue from such subscriptions based on usage by the customer. As a result, our revenue may fluctuate from period to period due to varying patterns of customer consumption.

 

We are focused on the acquisition of new customers and expanding within our current customers. Our go-to-market model benefits from our self-service motions driven by our cloud-native platform offerings, our widespread mindshare among developers through Apache Kafka, community downloads, and our enterprise sales force. We are able to acquire new customers through seamless and frictionless self-service cloud adoption and free cloud trials, as well as community downloads. For example, after users get started with our free cloud trial, they can easily convert online to become paying customers either on a pay-as-you-go model or with a minimum commitment contract. Once customers see the benefits of our platform for their initial use cases, they often expand into other use cases and lines of business, divisions, and geographies. Our deep technical expertise, coupled with our product capabilities and laser focus on customer outcomes, enable us to form strategic partnerships with our customers to guide and accelerate this journey. This expansion often generates a natural network effect in which the value of our platform to a customer increases as more use cases are adopted, more users and teams are onboarded, more applications and systems are connected, and more data is added. We had approximately 4,530, 3,470, and 2,100 customers as of December 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively, representing year-over-year growth of 31% and 65%, respectively. We have experienced significant growth, with revenue of $585.9 million, $387.9 million, and $236.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively, representing year-over-year growth of 51% and 64%, respectively.

 

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