We are pleased to present our seventh annual Career-Launching Companies List. 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.
Today we are pleased to present our seventh annual list of information technology companies where young people should start their careers. We are very proud to say that approximately 80 companies from our annual lists have gone on to become public companies or be acquired for sizable sums over the past seven 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. That’s important to us as your financial advisor because choosing the right job can add far more to your ultimate net worth than making good planning or investment decisions. For a complete explanation of our logic, we encourage you to read the post that accompanied our original list.
To qualify for our list of mid-sized companies with momentum, a company must be 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 14 premier venture capital firms: Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark, DAG Ventures, Dragoneer, Greylock Partners, Index Ventures, Lightspeed, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Matrix Partners, Ribbit Capital, Social Capital, Spark Capital, and Tiger Global. As always we may have missed a few companies, but we feel confident that our list is pretty all-encompassing.
This year’s biggest observation
Despite the turmoil in our financial markets, 2018 was a boom year for our list of young tech companies. The total number of IPOs and acquisitions were at all-time highs — and by a wide margin. But the even better news is the number of companies added to the list was also near an all-time high, which means the number of compelling opportunities is by no means shrinking. Tech is still a great place to launch your career.
Changes since last year
This year’s list includes 156 companies, up 11 from last year’s 146. We added 48 new companies, which is the second highest total in our seven year history. We dropped 38 companies, which includes 12 that went public, 10 that were acquired (half of which were acquired for more than $1 billion), 4 that grew beyond the $300 million revenue cap, and 12 that experienced growth that was too slow to continue to qualify (approximately the six-year average).
This year a much smaller percentage of the new additions were consumer companies (27% vs. 43% last year). An increased percentage of the new additions are based in the Bay Area (61% vs. 54%) and more of the new Bay Area companies are located in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco (50% vs. 32%). That’s more in-line with Silicon Valley’s historical share of compelling companies. New York once again had 8 new additions, although it represented a smaller percentage than last year (15% vs. 23%).
This year’s 10 IPOs increased significantly from last year’s paltry 5. In addition, another 6 companies that were previously on our list went public. There were 12 company sales, half of which received offers of over $1 billion. Finally, we once again had a very small number of drops from the list due to slowing growth relative to previous years.
Other fun facts
As usual, the majority of the companies are based in the Bay Area (61%), which is approximately the same level as previous years. The majority of the Bay Area companies (55%) are still located in San Francisco rather than Silicon Valley, but that’s down from 67% last year and the peak of 70% in 2015.
A few geographies gained slight share this year, but generally speaking the relative market shares remained approximately the same. While other geographies may be experiencing an increased level of startup activity, it still appears that the more successful companies are likely to be based near Silicon Valley. This means you should seriously consider moving to the Bay Area to launch your career and then consider moving home to start your own company once you’ve gained the halo and experience.
Enterprise gained share to 66% of the companies, up slightly from 65% last year, continuing the long-term trend. Only 9 of the Bay Area consumer-focused companies are located in Silicon Valley, but that’s up slightly from only 5 last year. There are still only two hardware companies left on the list, which is amazing when you consider Silicon Valley was built by semiconductor and hardware companies.
Your career matters to your financial future
We hope you find this year’s list helpful. If you are an engineer, we provide slightly different advice, which can be found on our engineering blog. No matter what your background, we believe this list can help young professionals looking to rapidly grow their careers. And once you’ve achieved some success, we hope you will consider using Wealthfront as your financial advisor.
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About the author(s)
Andy Rachleff is Wealthfront's co-founder and Executive Chairman. He serves as a member of the board of trustees and chairman of the endowment investment committee for University of Pennsylvania and as a member of the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he teaches courses on technology entrepreneurship. Prior to Wealthfront, Andy co-founded and was general partner of Benchmark Capital, where he was responsible for investing in a number of successful companies including Equinix, Juniper Networks, and Opsware. He also spent ten years as a general partner with Merrill, Pickard, Anderson & Eyre (MPAE). Andy earned his BS from University of Pennsylvania and his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. View all posts by Andy Rachleff