Sacra Logo
View PDF
View Model
San Francisco, CA
Scott Johnston
Home  >  Companies  >  Docker
Docker is an application development platform based on open source technologies that allows developers to create, deploy and manage containerized applications.







Growth Rate (y/y)





Note: All revenue and growth rates are estimated by Sacra from publicly available information.

Docker hit ~$54M in annual recurring revenue (ARR) by the end of 2021, up about 400% from ~$11M in 2020. That’s after 170% growth from ~$4M in 2019.

Docker primarily makes money charging companies a per-seat subscription fee for all the developers using Docker Desktop to create, deploy, and manage containers.

Docker launched this subscription pricing model in August 2021, before which it earned revenue from users paying for additional features on the Docker Hub, a GitHub for Docker images product. Currently, Docker has over 1M paid subscriber seats.


Docker has raised $165 million since the Mirantis deal closed in November 2019 from Tribe Capital, Benchmark, Insight Partners, and Bain Capital. Docker is valued at $2.1B, implying a revenue multiple of ~15x.

Business Model


Docker’s core value proposition revolves around the use of containers and how developers and teams can use them to write, collaborate on and deploy applications without worrying about the particularities of different cloud or local development environments.

Instead of having to think about whether each member of the team has all the same libraries and dependencies, developers can build apps inside standardized Docker containers.

Until 2019, Docker’s primary means of monetizing their open source container standard was through top-down, enterprise deals via which Docker would provide services to help big companies use Docker.

After that spinoff, Docker doubled down on a bottom-up growth motion, adding new features to the core Docker toolset and introducing a freemium pricing model, limiting the free tier to basic features. Any firm with more than $10M in revenue or 250 employees must buy a paid subscription to use Docker.

The Pro tier, at $5/month/user, is inexpensive enough for devs who work independently or in early-stage startups to put their cards rather than going to a central purchase team. Docker caps the Team tier, which sells at $9/month/user, to 100 users to get the enterprises to buy the Business tier.

Docker is taking another shot at targeting enterprises with features like single sign-on (SSO), higher security, and a centralized permissions management layer through the Business tier.



The typical developer workflow is to develop locally and deploy to a server. However, a developer’s system and production servers have many libraries, hardware, and environment mismatches, due to which the shipped code rarely works. 

To avoid this, developers spin-up virtual boxes called ‘containers’ on their local system, package the code with all dependencies and then deploy the container to a server, making the code independent of the underlying tech infrastructure.

Before containers, developers built applications by spinning up virtual machines (VMs) on their local systems. But containers are lightweight and new instances of apps can be spun up much faster while also being portable, so an app can be moved across cloud servers without any issues.

Docker wasn’t the first company to launch containers but found traction by providing a superior developer experience through open-source tools and a straightforward command line interface (CLI). It rode the shift in developer workflow from building large monolithic applications to microservices-based architecture with the code split into thousands of smaller pieces.

Docker’s key components are:

  • Docker images: A template for creating containers. An infinite number of containers can be created from one image.
  • Docker containers: Created by running a Docker image and contains the app and its dependencies, libraries, etc.
  • Docker client: a command line interface (CLI) installed on the developer’s machine and used to create Docker images, containers, etc. 
  • Docker Engine: A background process that manages Docker’s containers, images, storage, etc.
  • Docker Hub: A Github-like location to store Docker images from where developers can pull an image to build a container.
    • Docker Desktop: A GUI tool for managing various Docker components and functions.


With 20M+ users, Docker is the most popular containerization platform, but there are several other tools that individual developers and teams can use to create and manage containers. Many of these tools are free to use, with the key trade-off being that they don’t necessarily offer:

  • the same compatibility with hosting platforms and public cloud services—Docker is compatible with virtually every permutation here
  • the same kind of ecosystem for orchestration—instead, multiple tools and open source projects must be patched together
  • the same millions of developers in their community that can help newcomers with advice, troubleshooting, etc.

Containerization standards like OCI (Open Container Initiative) have standardized managing container images, making it possible for developers to replace Docker in their containerization workflows.

Developers can combine Podman and Buildah from Red Hat to replace Docker in Linux OS or add point solutions to their workflows, such as Containerd, to manage container lifecycle.

However, none of the existing tools fully replace how Docker integrates various containerization components, letting developers focus on writing the actual code. Docker is deeply entrenched in developer workflows, and it is not yet expensive enough for them to move en masse to free tools.

TAM Expansion

Revenue expansion from existing users

7-10% of Docker’s 15M users have upgraded to paid tiers, providing Docker a big opportunity to expand revenue by upgrading more users. Even at scale, Docker remains a very small component of the infrastructure cost for most enterprises compared to the likes of AWS, making it easier for them to expand by adding more seats. It recently launched Docker Desktop (its paid product) for Linux OS, used by ~50% of developers globally. Docker is also making Docker Desktop more attractive for developers, accounting for 50% of the upcoming feature releases, per Docker’s product roadmap.

Launching new products

With the rise of cloud computing, developers continue to look for more ways to securely run any code on any infrastructure. Docker is adding such technologies under its wrapper instead of limiting itself to containers, adding the developers of these new techs to its user base. For instance, Docker recently released a way to build WebAssembly apps inside Docker on local systems. Like Docker, WebAssembly allows developers to wrap their codes into secure virtual boxes, and while WebAssembly started as a browser-based tech, it is moving quickly to the back end, used by apps like Disney+ and Shopify.



Churn from business model shift

In the past, using Docker for development was a no-brainer for many teams in part because it was free to use. By turning on monetization, Docker runs the risk that budget-conscious dev teams will look to migrate from Docker to free alternatives—particularly in a potential recession scenario.


This report is for information purposes only and is not to be used or considered as an offer or the solicitation of an offer to sell or to buy or subscribe for securities or other financial instruments. Nothing in this report constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice or a representation that any investment or strategy is suitable or appropriate to your individual circumstances or otherwise constitutes a personal trade recommendation to you.

This research report has been prepared solely by Sacra and should not be considered a product of any person or entity that makes such report available, if any.

Information and opinions presented in the sections of the report were obtained or derived from sources Sacra believes are reliable, but Sacra makes no representation as to their accuracy or completeness. Past performance should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future performance, and no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made regarding future performance. Information, opinions and estimates contained in this report reflect a determination at its original date of publication by Sacra and are subject to change without notice.

Sacra accepts no liability for loss arising from the use of the material presented in this report, except that this exclusion of liability does not apply to the extent that liability arises under specific statutes or regulations applicable to Sacra. Sacra may have issued, and may in the future issue, other reports that are inconsistent with, and reach different conclusions from, the information presented in this report. Those reports reflect different assumptions, views and analytical methods of the analysts who prepared them and Sacra is under no obligation to ensure that such other reports are brought to the attention of any recipient of this report.

All rights reserved. All material presented in this report, unless specifically indicated otherwise is under copyright to Sacra. Sacra reserves any and all intellectual property rights in the report. All trademarks, service marks and logos used in this report are trademarks or service marks or registered trademarks or service marks of Sacra. Any modification, copying, displaying, distributing, transmitting, publishing, licensing, creating derivative works from, or selling any report is strictly prohibited. None of the material, nor its content, nor any copy of it, may be altered in any way, transmitted to, copied or distributed to any other party, without the prior express written permission of Sacra. Any unauthorized duplication, redistribution or disclosure of this report will result in prosecution.