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The Y Combinator Startup Index (daniellemorrill.com)
135 points by dmor on March 21, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 58 comments

Direct link to YC spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0ApqWF3CqjgjSdE9...

(terribly hard to view in the blog post IFRAME)

These stats hardly rank some companies like Disqus where they should be. In all honesty, I'm surprised (with the metrics used) that it ranks Disqus as well as it does at all.

It also can't gauge the most important metric of them all: revenue.

Most private companies don't publish revenue numbers, no matter what industry they're in.

My point is that the metrics used are mostly meaningless

I think the absolute numbers may indeed poor indicators, but looking at the derivative or trends tells a different story. At https://starthq.com we are working on recording historic data and showing the rate of acceleration in numbers like Compete rank to give an indication as to whether the startup is up and coming, has plateaued or is in decline.

Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity.

Hey Danielle, your list is missing Rap Genius. Its Alexa scores (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/rapgenius.com) should rank it number 8 on the list behind AirBnb.

Thank you, I will update it with all the feedback on this thread so keep it coming. Check back shortly and you'll see Rap Genius on there

I had no idea 9Gag was YC-backed. You've created a monster.

9gag was immensely popular and profitable before joining YC. They joined YC for the experience.

They monetize the service by ad impressions. I can't think of any other ways they can more deeply engage with the audience while monetizing at the same time.

Previous class, 9Gag had been around for a while before they got into YC.

Most successful YC company if you ask me.

In what terms? If usefulness is taken into consideration I would rate Dropbox and Stripe considerably higher (and a few others).

I have a question about the design of the web site in the OP. I'm bringing it up because it seems to hit the front page a lot.

Why does the author's face show up in 5 different images above the fold, on every page on the site? I'm counting byline on the left, header image, 2 tweets, and a drawing of the author on the right. I feel like this is a celebrity web site but I have no idea who this person is so it's weird.

Because I'm too lazy to modify the Emptiness theme I've been using for 3 or 4 years. Counting the days til I move the whole site to Svbtle, so not really investing much

Fair enough! Your blog still looks better than mine no matter what.

Justin.tv also does Twitch.tv which is ranked 573 on Alexa, not sure about the other stats for them.

PG and crew always seem to debate that the startups view their batch-mates as competition.

This will likely exacerbate that, so I am interested to see what PG thinks about all of this.

Hmmm, that's not how I saw it at all going through YC. The companies on the top of this list are the ones I look up to, and it's cool to see people sticking it out after 3+ years and kicking ass. There was healthy competition inside the batch to do things like launch and have new stuff to show off each week, but it always felt motivating not mean-spirited.

Well...that's usually the feedback we hear from YC-founders themselves. There is competition, but it is friendly, not adversarial like the tech press likes to paint.

But, if I recall correctly, I distinctly remember PG & gang bristling when they hear this - because they don't want to feed any competition at all.

Well....that's just my impression, as an outsider looking in anyway.

Either way, this is an intriguing concept for sure :)

You should look at Alexa for world traffic vs US traffic, not many YC companies are targeting international users yet but are very successful in the US. Take into account FB/Twitter followers as well. Even though followers don't determine success, companies that don't grow their social side of the business usually indicate a slow growth or nongrowth business. Also goes to show how much extra time or money they have to throw at it.

I built something like this at http://startupstats.com and have indexed close to 50,000 companies with time series data to derive the trends over time. Will have to release a leaderboard so people can see what's popping up! The biggest issue I've found so far is that it requires human analysis. The leaderboards simply serve as a way to guide you to dig deeper

Why is the signup process so many painful email based steps? I gave you my email address thinking I would get access to your site, but I find myself on a mailing/waitlist.

Didn't realize its painful to enter your email and press submit! I didn't release the leaderboards yet but will do so quickly. Happy to show you them though if you email me

Pretty cool. Only comment would be to add in something that takes into account Estimated Revenue or Valuation (no way Airbnb can be considered 7th).

I'm not sure of an easy data source for that so you might be able to use the Crunchbase api for Total Funding as a first order approximation.(Kind of surprised Crunchbase doesn't have latest valuation / revenue numbers, rumored or real)

This is an excellent initiative and has the benefit to cast some light and provide visibility on the Y Combinator startups. They will love that.

On the other hand the one dimensional ranking is not a good idea because the reality is that this doesn't exit. There are many parameters to consider and many of them are not disclosed.

Maybe you could converge interest of Y Combinator startups seeking visibility and high value contacts, and on the other end, people who want to know who the Y Combinator startups are, what they do, where there are at it. Some people might event want to pay a fee for premium information or access to backstage information.

It could be a facebook like server for Y Combinator startups with premium services.

Just for giggles, I checked http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/balancedpayments.com and Balanced comes in at 93 after PagerDuty.

This is great! We’ve been working on something similar at https://starthq.com to automatically generate a popularity score for B2B web apps: http://starthq.uservoice.com/forums/198432-roadmap/suggestio...

dmor: Would you be OK with us adapting your method, with attribution of course? We would be able to calculate the scores automatically and update them daily.

AppData MAUs are off by 3 digits on at least two of the companies :/

Yes, waaay off.

Just using publicly available data like top 10 social networks, you can see Bump is top 10 in many regions:


The MAU numbers are way off for us (and some others I have a pretty good idea about), so I'm not sure you're measuring anything accurately about mobile, FYI.

- Jamie @ bump

My methodology doesn't currently include mobile, I will add more data sources and update the approach in the April version

if you want to email me at the address in my profile I'd be happy to fix it

I've visualized the data so you can get insights quicker: http://ycindex.silkapp.com/

Good comparison for RapGenius/9GAG type sites, but generally comparing startups based on a traffic ranking is probably not the way to go.

Startups that sell things don't need as much traffic to make the same amount of money. Dropbox & Airbnb should be a lot higher than Scribd. Also, the list is missing Shoptiques.

Stripe as well is way undervalued in a ranking like this and any business that revolves around pageviews is going to be overvalued.

One thing I'd love to see this evolve into is a timeline for each company. When it was started, when they received funding and how much, when they reached 10k/1m/10m users, etc. It could look like an Alexa/Compete/etc chart with these milestones added on top. This would make for a great research tool.

Good effort, although I thought it was interesting that revenues were not included as a metric.

I'm sure if the data were publicly available it would be, but in reality that would just introduce a whole load of bs guessing games to the ranking.

Without revenue or profit, the entire ranking is BS, is it not?

I wouldn't say it's BS but there are obviously gaping holes in the methodology.

I'm most interested in the companies with very low rankings - however Sheet 2 isn't loading for me.

Interesting! Danielle, would be interested in figuring out how I could help you automate this through Seed-DB (http://www.seed-db.com)

I've been browsing this for the past week or so and was wondering -- how do you generate your valuation estimates? Seems like the sum of exits for something like YC could be off by as much as $250M if you consider that the low quality estimates could vary by 100%+ from their true value.


There are no valuation estimates; just estimates on sale prices when companies have exited. Luckily the biggest exits are the ones that have press interest and thus have a price attached.

My methodology depends on research into previous funding rounds and a bit of guesswork, influenced by how the exit is framed. (Is it an acquihire? Or a traditional exit?) The reason I put the H/M/L indications is to be up-front and honest about it. You're correct in that they could be off, but $250million is <25% of the total value of exits that I have recorded.

In some cases I've had insiders e-mail me with details where my estimate is off; in these cases I do correct my figure but keep the original H/M/L indication.

Wow, that's amazing that insiders are sharing knowledge with you like that. Ever since I've found seed-db I've been sharing the surprising (to me) fact with people that YC has ~90% of the recorded exists in the accelerator ecosystem. That figure, of course, comes with an asterisk :)

Frankly, YC startups get the lion share of press attention. Between that and Hacker News, it's always easier to get information on YC startup exits than those from other programs.

And generally insiders only get in touch with me around my worst valuation errors. :)

>And generally insiders only get in touch with me around my worst valuation errors. :)

It seems like you know how to get more people to contribute data. :)

Good effort! It's very nice to see the list on one sheet instead of following links on crunchbase or angellist. What was the methodology for coming up with the overall rank?

Interesting to see Scribd has such a high Alexa and FB mau rank. Scribd is not as hyped as the rest of the top 10 imo. Anyone know if they are profitable?

Anyone here know, whats the difference between Alexa Traffic Rank and Alexa Rank (Web Traffic)?

Alexa Traffic Rank is the position within the link, Alex Rank (Web Traffic) is the global ranking provided for the site by alexa.com

Thanks for the info.

Isn't this list missing Reddit?

It doesn't included dead and exited startups. (Reddit was acquired by Condé Nast.)


Last I checked we at Leftronic haven't died nor are we going to :)

Loved it. very useful

Very cool.

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