Traction Tracker: 84 Y Combinator Companies With Significant Traffic Growth

What’s this music thing? I pair music with my posts, as I find it makes digesting spreadsheets a bit more fun. Enjoy!

I’ve been compiling stats about the Y Combinator, 500 Startups and Andreessen Horowitz portfolio companies to produce The Startup Index. Website traffic tells only part of a company’s story, but how it changes over time can reveal who is gaining momentum and attention online. Focusing on Alexa ranking deltas, rather than absolute numbers, also shines a light on enterprise, hardware and developer focused startups who would normally get pushed down low on any traffic-based ranking system.

Imagine “Hot Companies” Lists Driven By Data, Not PR

Have you ever wondered how those “Top X of Y” posts are generated? Occasionally journalists will put out a request to PR people for companies that fit with a roundup post they’re working on. The PR firm will send over some logos and blurbs for a few companies that fit, and boom – you have 3-for-1 placement. But what if we used data to compile our own “Hot Startups to Watch” article by the numbers?

  • 75% (84 of the 112) YC companies in the Alexa 250,000 grew their traffic since March
  • Companies with traffic growth had a median delta of +4,130 positions, average delta of +11,121 positions.
  • 35% (29 of the 84) of companies with traffic growth outperformed the average delta.
  • 5% (4 of the 84) of companies with traffic growth are also members of the Alexa 500

Scroll below the spreadsheet for a little analysis on the top 10 companies.

Some have suggested it would be more useful to take the log of the March rank and compare it to the log of the April rank, to account for the fact that it is more difficult to go from the 10,000 position to the 1,000 position than from the 100,000 to 10,000 position in the Alexa global rank. I have created that data set as well, and the results are:

What would you do with this data? Let us know in the comments.

Quick Notes on the Top 10

You might wonder why successful companies like Weebly, Scribd, Airbnb, and Disqus are at the bottom of the list. Being listed at all means the company has grown its traffic in the last month, and made it into the prestigious top quarter million websites in the world. Ranking by delta calls attention to companies with the most upward momentum in their website traffic, relative to the other properties on the Internet. Moving from the 122 to 121st more popular website globally, as Dropbox did this month, is a big deal and could indicate an increase of hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Snipshot – I was excited to see a Winter 2006 company in the #1 spot. Some research reveals the site went up for auction on Flippa recently for $10,000 and some commenters mentioned they found the auction because Mark Zuckerbeg liked it (I’m assuming on Facebook). That might account for the traffic spike.

Get Going – Get Going is a YC company from last summer who launched their travel service a few weeks ago to let people get crazy good deals if they’re willing to let the service pick their destination. This traffic is most result of the classic “TechCrunch spike”, and it will interesting to see where things settle in a month.

AeroFS – It’s great to see a B2B company at #3 on the list, and AeroFS is helping large groups collaborate in the cloud of sensitive files. This is a classic big company problem of needing to keep confidential stuff inside the firewall, and exactly the kind of service to adopt if IT refuses to let you use Google Docs. Just last week they announced they’re out of beta on the company blog, and this feels like one of those “boring” companies that just chugs along in relative quiet and then is suddenly HUGE.

Ark – I couldn’t find any recent press or other activity to explain the increase in traffic, but according to Alexa ~50% of their traffic is going to livedash.ark.com, a service that let’s you search for anything said on national TV.

Custora – The customer engagement and retention company announced they’ve landed a LivingSocial as a customer earlier this month, and they’ve also been actively updating their company blog with helpful content for customers.

AnyPerkAnnounced a $1.4M round of funding from Digital Garage and others to expand their employee perk management services, and experienced a nice TechCrunch traffic bump. The website was also redesigned recently.

Firebase – James Tamplin’s company continues on a tear with the announcement that the app infrastructure service is now available to all developers.

PagerDuty – The company announced a $10.5 Million round from Andreessen Horowitz in January and have grown to 24 employees.

YouGotListings – The landlord management tool (I need this!) appears to be chugging along on minimal people and cash, with no other funding announced other than their Y Combinator / StartFund investment. I couldn’t find any recent news events, so I’d imagine most of the traffic bump comes from more active usage. They also mentioned their were revamping some features in February on the company blog.

Verbling – They launched Google Hangout powered language learning classes back in December and it looks like it’s paying off. They’ve got right now and a thriving multi-lingual following on Twitter.

Methodology Notes

Companies that have exited are not included. W13 companies are excluded from this analysis, and will debut in the April Y Combinator index later this month. I have limited the list to companies in the top 250,000 websites globally according to Alexa.

Many very successful YC companies who would be considered “stable” aren’t going to show up here if their traffic rank stayed the same or dropped a few positions over the past month. That doesn’t mean they’re not doing well, and in fact they’re likely growing as they convert more and more of their returning visitors into paying customers. The goal of this list is to identify the movers and the shakers, the up-and-comers, and the under appreciated growth of the early stage. You can check out the March 2013 Y Combinator Index for a ranked list of the entire portfolio as of March 20, 2013.

There are 94 other companies who also climbed the Alexa ranking in this period, but are not yet in the top 250,000 websites and I look forward to doing more analysis of these companies in a separate post.

  • Instead of ranking startups using order of absolute delta, it should have ,atleast, been based on % change. Even % change in number is not that correct. Every rank range should have some weight-age points attached to it like 1 to 100 Alexa rank – 1.0, 100-1000 – 0.75, 1000-5000 – .5 and so on – call it Difficulty Coefficient (df). So, Effective Delta = Difference between Alexa Rank X df . Alexa 250K to 200K is easy, alexa 122 to 121 is way more difficult than former.

    Just 2 cents from my end.

    Anyways, great job with this & other similar posts.

  • Thanks for compiling this, Danielle! As usual, awesome work. We’ve just recently applied to YC, so if we get in it’ll be good to have some standards with which to measure ourselves by. 😉

    P.S., I love that you have themed music for your posts. I’ve recently tried to gain answers to questions about this (see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/15870188/what-api-allows-for-playing-purchasing-of-music at first, and then https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5511180 after.) and think it’s an awesome idea. Keep up the good work.

  • Mr. K

    I appreciate the effort in compiling this data, but it’s really the wrong data.

    The real data you need to determine who has “traction” won’t be available online.

    It’s a metric that isn’t talked about enough

    Not “page views”, “uniques”, “users”

    Not even “revenue”

    What really matters are Profits and it’s so annoying to have people repeatedly fall into the myth that some how; one day these companies will turn eye balls into dollar signs. If only they can get enough people looking at them.

    The fastest growing company was groupon, because it never had to become a company.

    A company makes profits. It doesn’t survive on the ignorance or stupidity of investors.

    These ponzi scheme always end poorly and it sucks being the last investor at the table

    This is the kind of stuff that distracts from what matters…

    Creating so much value for people that they are willing to take their hard earned pay check and sign over part of it to you.

    I hope you take this perspective not as a personal attack but as a comment on the industry as whole

  • evan

    I appreciate your work, but alexa ranks are pretty meaningless, I used to run 2 websites, one did much more traffic than another (2-3M vs 200k / month) but it showed the one with lower traffic with a lower rank than the other (5k vs 10k). What’s even more absurd is that it even changed a lot (up and down for few thousands) during various months even if the traffic, unique visitors and pageviews were the same

  • David

    Perhaps you should consider looking at US only ratings, for 95% of the companies that will be a more accurate indicator of how they are doing. because that’s where the revenue comes from.

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  • Daniel

    Have you considered turning all of this into a true bid/ask market? Sell shares at the seed valuation (and/or last reported/rumored valuation) and then see what happens?

  • Daniel,

    As you rightly pointed out early in your post, traffic is just one indicator. What websites should care about the most is bringing high engaging traffic to the site. Clicks means nothing, conversions and engagement mean so much more, especially true for B2B sites.

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