Y Combinator Tech Stacks

September 9, 2016 Sam Laber

This is a repost from Y Combinator's blog, The Macro. For the original post, click here. This is part of an ongoing series of posts found in the Datanyze Research Lab.

The startup world is not for the faint of heart. Companies are either growing or are dying. As a result, everyone is looking for an edge. That is why incubator and accelerator programs are so popular. They can give a promising startup the tools and connections it needs to transform a cool idea into a revolutionary company. One of the most popular incubators in the world is Y Combinator. Fortune previously called Y Combinator “a spawning ground for emerging tech giants.” Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit are alumni.

So this got us thinking: What type of technologies do YC companies use to drive business? We looked at a list, provided by yclist.com, that named 702 companies from 2005 to winter session 2015. If you remove the companies that no longer exist, you end up with 638 active websites we could examine. As mentioned earlier, this includes a who’s who of companies.

Here's a look at some popular technologies as they appear on YC tech stacks. The x-axis is the total count of YC websites using that tech; the y-axis is that tech's market share relative to its particular tech category.

Some interesting things we noticed:

  1. Of the YC companies that use third party email providers, 97% use Gmail and 2% use Outlook. 
  2. Of the YC companies that use a CDN, 68% use Amazon CloudFront, 7% use Cloudflare and 5% use Fastly.
  3. Used by 172 YC companies, Facebook Custom Audiences is the most popular AdTech solution. Twitter and Yahoo Ads tie for second with 146 sites, while Adwords comes in third with 130. Only 10 sites are advertising on LinkedIn.
  4. 41% of YC companies use an Advertising provider and 31% use Retargeting.
  5. Only 21% of YC companies are A/B testing, but 93% use Optimizely.
  6. Greenhouse.io and Lever are the most commonly used Recruitment Software, used by 35 and 23 YC companies respectively.
  7. Only 22% of YC companies use a third party CMS. Of those, 83% use WordPress.
  8. Zendesk and Intercom lead Customer Support Software with 42% and 40% respective market share.

Here's a look at the breakdown of technology use by category.

Here's a breakdown of providers in some of our more popular categories. The number described is the count of websites using each technology provider.



Stay tuned for more original Datanyze research at the Datanyze Research Lab!

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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