Today we are pleased to present our ninth annual list of information technology companies where young people should start their careers. We published this list to complement the career advice I have been giving to my Stanford Graduate School of Business students for the past 15 years:
“Your choice of company is more important than your job title, your pay or your responsibilities.”
The full logic behind this advice can be found in our Silicon Valley Career Guide. I’m proud to say my students who followed this advice have gone on to incredible success.
Many people ask us why a next-generation banking service would go to the trouble of offering career advice and publishing this list. Our objective is to help our clients manage their short- and long-term financial needs. We can think of no advice that impacts our clients’ long-term financial state more than helping them make the right career choices. It’s one of the many ways we build an unprecedented level of trust with our clients.
We are very proud that more than 120 companies from our annual lists have gone on to become public companies or be acquired for sizable sums over the past eight years. We know of no other annual list that comes close to helping young people get off to a great start building their careers in technology.
By being part of a very successful company early in your career, you build a halo that not only leads to faster upward growth, but greater financial rewards as well.
To qualify for our Career-Launching Companies List, a company must be US-based, privately held, have a revenue run rate by year end of between $20 million and $300 million, be on a trajectory to grow at a rate in excess of 50% for at least the next three or four years, and have compelling unit economics. Selling a product at very low margins can lead to rapid revenue growth, but it doesn’t necessarily imply a great long-term business.
We built our list by surveying partners of the following 19 premier early and late stage venture capital firms: Accel Partners, Addition, Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark, Bond, Coatue, Dragoneer, Greylock Partners, Index Ventures, IVP, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Matrix Partners, Redpoint, Ribbit Capital, Social Capital, Spark Capital, TCV, Tiger Global and Unusual Ventures. As always, we may have missed a few companies, but we feel confident that our list is pretty all-encompassing.
Changes since last year
This year’s list includes 187 companies, up 9 from last year’s 178. We added 72 new companies, which is yet another record for an annual increase. That’s saying something because last year’s record of 71 represented a 40% increase from the prior year. I think many might be surprised that we set a record in a year so heavily impacted by COVID-19. The large number of new companies added to the list really speaks to the amount of innovation that continues to be driven by the Internet.
We dropped 63 companies, also a new record, which includes 8 that went public (or are in registration), 11 that were acquired (almost all of which were acquired for at least $1 billion), a record 9 that grew beyond the $300 million revenue qualification cap, a record 33 that experienced growth that was too slow to continue to qualify and 2 that should not have been included last year because they are headquartered outside the US.
Interestingly, two of the companies included in the IPO category went public through a merger with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). This is the first year in which we’ve experienced companies from our list going public this way. This trend should continue as a record number of SPACs were funded in 2020.
The number of companies dropped from the list due to declining growth is up almost two and a half times from last year’s 14. Many of these companies can attribute their slowdown to COVID-19, which means I wouldn’t be surprised if they reappear on our list in a year or two.
Five companies we dropped from the list in prior years for growing beyond $300 million of annual revenue, Airbnb, Doordash, Palantir, Roblox and Wish, have gone public this year or will soon go public at astronomical valuations.
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