Startup Index

  • Posts,  Startup Index

    New 500 Startups Batch Announced. Who Has the Most Momentum?

    500 Startups announced the non-stealth participants in their current batch today in a TechCrunch article, and while they’ve kindly put them in alphabetical order… you probably know by now that’s not how I roll.

    I’ve been tracking many of these companies for awhile now and will certainly start tracking those I missed. It will be interesting to see how this rank and momentum scores at the beginning of the program compare to the end of the program.

    Are you a future investor, employee or customer for these companies? Get on it.

    My advise to the startups looking to increase their score? Every day we hustlin’ #500strong

    Full Disclosure: I am a 500 Startups mentor. I haven’t written a full ethics statement for this blog but this is my rule of thumb: no free equity/options. I make investments from time to time, you can see them on my AngelList profile.

  • Posts,  Startup Index,  Startups

    Strikingly, BuildZoom and Bitnami Lead Hottest Y Combinator Winter 2013 Startups

    Tomorrow marks 1 month since Y Combinator Demo Day for the Winter 2013 class of startups, and since I’ve been tracking their progress for awhile now I have a pretty good sense of who has seen sustained interest, growing traffic, and increased audience through social media. The weeks after Demo Day were a strange time, in some ways anti-climactic as companies leave the YC nest but also exciting as they begin to close in on funding rounds which will be announced in the coming months.

    On 3/25, 4/7, 4/15 and 4/21 we measured of several data points for each company. For this ranking we use Alexa rank (traffic) scaled to product unique visitors, Twitter followers, Facebook followers, and LinkedIn followers to assess who has been gaining the most visibility to customers and the outside world since Demo Day.

    Want to analyze this data yourself? Download the raw dataset here.

    Of course this is no measure of revenue, but it does give a good sense of which companies have the strongest top of funnel for gaining new leads right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if the companies at the top of this list were the most competitive deals for funding, and the most in-demand for jobs.

    It will be interesting to see whether this ranking holds up one year from now.

    Full disclosure: I have made an angel investment in Bitnami.
  • Startup Index,  Startups

    Weekly Traction Tracker: Who Is Hottest Among 1,100 Startups?

    This post is part of a series on data-driven blogging which includes the Startup Index and Investor Index. I have quantified companies from 500 Startups, Y Combinator, TechStars, Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital and would love to hear your feedback on what I should measure next.

    I hate subjective top X lists as much as the next guy, and since I’m tracking ~1,100 companies now I thought it would be fun to share the fastest growing folks of the past week. These are this week’s movers and shakers.

    *calculated as the delta between the log of the original Alexa rank and log of the new rank. Updated to remove TutorialTab, founder has confirmed the company is no longer operational.

    *the @Authy Twitter account followersappear to be primarily spam accounts, they went from 239 followers to 7736 followers in the past week – they say they did not buy followers so they might have been bot bombed.

    And my personal favorite, because getting LinkedIn followers is pretty difficult:

    And last but not least:

    Other Notable Movements in the Data

    On LinkedIn companies self-report which bucket company size they are in, and usually this doesn’t move much. However, Task Rabbit and Bizible both bumped up from the 2-10 employees to 11-50 employees size.

  • Startup Index,  Startups

    Startup Index: First Round Capital – April 2013

    This post is part of the Startup Index series, which ranks companies and profiles investor portfolios on a monthly basis. I have previously indexed Y Combinator, 500 Startups, TechStars and Andreessen Horowitz. Like data-driven news? Check out the Traction Tracker and the Active Investor Index, and be sure to let me know which portfolio you’d like to see me index next in the comments or by emailing morrilldanielle (at) gmail.

    Ask around when you’re raising a seed or Series A round, and First Round Capital is one of the first investors on the lips of many entrepreneurs. I tend to trust my friends when they recommend an investor, so I never did much due diligence on the firm. But when people started suggesting I add them to the Startup Index series I was intrigued. Would their portfolio match up with their reputation?

    I’ve done the research, now you decide.

    First Round Capital, By the Numbers

    • 145 companies (not exited) – 46% B2B, 54% consumer
    • current fund is $135M announced in April 2012 (previous fund was $126M announced in October 2010)
    • total of $3.2B in funding raised across all companies, all rounds (from all investors, not just FRC)
    • 8 companies that have raised more than $100M each (50/50 split consumer and B2B)

    Updated to move Square to the B2B list.

    Top 10 Consumer Companies

    1. StumbleUpon
    2. Wikia
    3. Fab
    4. 9GAG
    5. ModCloth
    6. ROBLOX
    7. Uber
    8. One Kings Lane
    9. SAY Media
    10. Refinery29

    Top 10 B2B Companies

    1. Square
    2. AppNexus
    3. OpenX
    4. Get Satisfaction
    5. Gigya
    6. VigLink
    7. Tremor Video
    8. Flurry
    9. Urban Airship
    10. Knewton

    How the Startup Index Ranking System Works

    This index is built on a weighted points system which considers the following factors: website traffic, social media following, social media engagement, employee count, page rank, inbound links, and SEOmoz domain trust score. Funding information is provided to give the reader context, but is not factored into a company’s ranking position.

    Is total funding raised correlated with a higher ranking position?

    Funding amount is not used as a criteria for the ranking points system right now, so I thought it would be interesting to see whether the amount a company has raised is correlated with the position it holds in the ranked list. The Pearson number for consumer companies is -0.64 and for B2B companies is -0.65, indicating a moderate negative correlation in both cases (the lower the rank number, the higher the funding amount).

    Consumer Companies Index

    B2B Companies Index

    Data Sources: First Round Capital website, Crunchbase, SEC EDGAR database, and AngelList.

    Also, LOL.

  • Posts,  Startup Index

    The TechStars Index – Seeking Alpha Among 162 Active Companies

    This post is part of the Startup Index Series, featuring data-driven posts about the companies in various portfolios including Y Combinator, 500 Startups and Andreessen Horowitz. Which portfolio would you like to see analyzed next?

    TechStars is a seed stage startup accelerator funding companies in Boulder, Boston, Chicago, London, New York City and Seattle. It’s mentor roster features several notable founders and venture capitalists and they self-publish a lot of stats about their companies including active companies, failure rate, funding and employees by class and more. Applications are open now for Seattle and London 2013. Apply here.

    Unlike previous indexes, this list factors in several different data points and no longer over-emphasizes web traffic. In order to avoid having these indexes gamed I am not going to reveal the exact formula I use to calculate the ranking, but I can tell you that externally measurable factors like Twitter followers, Facebook likes, page rank, inbound links and even number of employees all play a part in calculating the ranking of these companies.

    Founders, if you feel your company is ranking incorrectly, or have feedback for me about how I can make this list better I would love to hear from you. My email is morrilldanielle (at) gmail.

  • Posts,  Startup Index,  Startups

    Investor Index: Discover the Most Popular VC & Angel Blogs

    Looking for the music? I’m trying something new and have embedded the entire Darwin Deez album! Scroll to the bottom of this post to hit play, because music makes reading spreadsheet a lot more fun.

    Update: This post may have been more timely than I realized. I just noticed that David Hornik’s most recent post from early March talked about marking 10 years as a VC blogger. He says it best in his post:

    I had no idea ten years ago that VentureBlog would prove a catalyst for a whole industry of bloggers. But I am thrilled that it has. Not only has blogging provided us venture capitalists with the opportunity to demystify an enigmatic industry. But, more importantly, it has given entrepreneurs an invaluable resource to assist them in the incredibly challenging task of company creation. With any luck VentureBlog and the many VC blogs that followed will continue to flourish for years to come.

    Long before I ever imagined starting my company, I began reading a handful of investor blogs to follow along with what was happening in the startup world. When I learned about tech startups in 2006 I found it amazing to me that someone in their 20s could raise millions of dollars to build something the world had never seen before, and I wanted to understand how that worked and who made it possible. The first investor blogs I ever read and subscribed to, in 2006 were Josh Kopelman, Mike Speiser and Paul Graham. The landscape has changed since then, with hundreds of investors now sharing their thoughts on their blogs.

    By the Numbers

    • 68 investor blogs have been updated since the beginning of 2013
    • 17 investor blogs rank above the global Alexa 100,000
    • According to Alexa the 5 most widely read investor blogs are Y Combinator, Dharmesh Shah, Paul Graham, Fred Wilson and Mark Suster.
    • 2 female VCs are blogging (as of publishing): Christine Herron and Rachel Strate (not updated since 2009).

    Who have I missed? Which investors blog posts from the past are so good they should be read over and over again? Let me know in the comments so I can keep this updated.

  • Posts,  Startup Index,  Startups

    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, 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.

  • Startup Index,  Startups

    Zombie VC Post – The Bug Report

    What’s this? I usually pick a song I feel goes with the post and expresses my mood writing it. Enjoy, I hope it will enhance your reading experience.

    I’d like to address some bugs from Yesterday’s Zombie VCs post, which provided a list of investors who were inactive in Series A deals in the past 6 months according to Crunchbase, a self-reported database of deals updated by startups and their investors as follow-up to a post about helping founders find active investors during the Series A crunch and avoiding taking meetings that are a waste of time.

    I would like to express my appreciation to O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, MMC Ventures, Lightbank, Kepha Partners, Paladin Capital Group, Mercury Fund, Neu Venture Capital, Shasta Ventures, Genesis Partners, Magma Venture Partners, Kima Ventures, Greylock Ventures Israel, Softbank Capital, Carmel Ventures and Emergence Capital for reaching out to provide data and help me confirm they are currently actively doing Series A deals in recent months. Big thank you also goes to Shira Abel, who has been reaching out to Israeli VCs to get them updated and on the active list.

    This index can be improved, but I will not stop publishing it monthly and even with flaws it helps entrepreneurs focus their efforts on the most active firms.

    The Data Is Crap

    I used data from Crunchbase, which is much less accurate than I thought it would be. I did expect some errors, but mistakenly thought the 6 month window was big enough to limit that and didn’t take the time to validate the list or contact the companies on it. I also limited the list to funds who participated in Series A deals in the past, but it turns out many of those were one-off deals from growth capital firms or follow-on from funds who primarily focus on seed. I should have taken more time to research this data, cross check with other sources, and at the very least reach out to some very obviously active firms like Shasta to find out more info before publishing.

    I am still a huge advocate for Crunchbase, which I think is a treasure in the startup community, and encourage investors to update their profiles. I have also submitted a feature request to them to allow investors to update activity without revealing the companies, so we’ll see how that goes. Founders aren’t reading paid subscription data services or VC insider newsletters and I don’t think it is realistic to expect them to start.

    The Methodology Needs Work

    While I believe this first attempt raised some transparency around investor activity, a mea culpa is definitely necessary where methodology is concerned and I wholeheartedly agree with Fred Destin’s suggestions in ZOMBIE VCS TAKE II – HOW TO SPOT AN ACTIVE FIRM which jives well with in-depth methodology feedback I’ve received privately as well. I have included a list of corrections in the original post, and also updated active investors list for March 2013 as needed. Going forward I look forward to offering an updated active investors list, and I will be leveraging additional data sources that have been offered (thank you) and contacting companies.

    Listing Inactive Investors is of Little Value to Founders

    Creating a list of inactive investors isn’t very constructive, and is of little practical value of founders. What founders want to know is which investors are active, they care much less about who is inactive. I have been working through many ideas around the best ways to track fund performance which are still specific and transparent but are also credible and helpful, and I welcome your input in the comments, via email and on Twitter to help me improve this.

    There were several smaller bugs as well, including:

    • The title also turned out to be much more sensational than I would have expected, playing off of my previous “Zombie Startups” post
    • The disclaimers about data quality were not clear enough to many readers
    • The use of the “total deal participation size” number to sort the list was useless (and has since been removed, it is now alphabetical)

    As a blogger I believe in offering insight based on experience, a data-driven perspective wherever possible, and actionable details that are useful for founders (like a list of investors who are actively doing deals) whenever possible.

    I would also like to acknowledge, though I cannot name, dozens of people who have sent me tips and other info I am following up on, hopped on calls with me to explain their perspective and ideas for how to make this better and more useful for entrepreneurs and the ecosystem as a whole, opened up APIs and other data sources for additional research, and expressed their appreciation and shared personal stories. They bring a huge range of experience across the entire startup community including founders, associates, VCs with names you’d recognize, long admired heroes of venture and tech, quiet “guy behind the guy” types and everything else in between. I’m listening and working to bring their feedback into the content I create in the future. I know I will not win over people who don’t want this information made public, and quite honestly I just don’t care. This one’s for all the founders in the struggle.

    Thanks to Fred Wilson for the inspiration on how to craft this post.

  • Startup Index,  Startups

    YC Demo Day Winter 2013 Batch – Quick Reference Index

    Today is Y Combinator Demo Day, and I’ve compiled a list of Y Combinator startups from the current batch who have officially launched (27 of 47) and ranked them using the same methodology as this month’s YC Index. It is extremely early days for these companies, this can give you a sense of who is getting attention and seeing early growth and we will use this as a benchmark for them in the index going forward. I will update this post as new companies are launched throughout the day.

    The companies highlighted in orange would have made it into the top 100 of the Y Combinator Index released for March. All companies will be included in the April index.

    Link to spreadsheet

    I post this with the caveat that web traffic rarely tells the full story for any company. We have done our best to also factor in Facebook monthly active users and mobile app rankings, but for enterprise and developer tools companies the amount of website traffic they receive can be disproportionately low compared to how much money they make.

    Update: Now includes PayTango, which launched last night.

    Data sources include TechCrunch, Crunchbase, AngelList and YClist.

  • Startup Index,  Startups

    The 500 Startups Index – 369 Companies & Counting

    Last week I published the first Y Combinator Startup Index, which ranks the companies who have gone through the YC program using traffic data, Facebook monthly active users, and mobile data where it’s available to determine how well each company is doing.

    Update – 500 Startups head honcho Dave McClure left some helpful insights on the Hacker News comment thread related to this post.

    As with the other index, there are caveats. Web traffic only tells part of the story for any company, and this index doesn’t contain complete information about Facebook app usage or mobile app usage. What’s most useful is seeing how these rankings change over time, so I will be updating this monthly.

    You can also view the full spreadsheet here.