Entrepreneurs start with an idea and a belief that their vision can have a massive impact. It doesn’t always work out that way. But when it does, the effect can be world-changing: A breakthrough startup can scramble industries, alter how we work and live, and shift talent flows around the world. It’s no wonder that we tend to follow the fortunes of these founders and those who choose to work for them so carefully.
With the LinkedIn Top Startups list, we wanted to provide professionals with a look at the young companies reaching that escape velocity. As always, we started with the data — the billions of actions generated by LinkedIn’s 575 million members — and looked at four pillars in particular: employee growth; jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from our flagship LinkedIn Top Companies list. In other words, which startups are commanding the attention and working hours of top talent? To be eligible for Top Startups, companies must be 7 years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, be privately held and headquartered in the U.S. (Check out which startups made the lists Canada, Australia and Germany, and stay tuned — we’ll be unveiling lists for more countries in the coming weeks. You can learn more about our methodology at the bottom of this article.)
Will these companies continue with their explosive growth and world-changing work? That’s in the hands of the talent flocking to these startups. Maybe you’ll want to put your own hat into the ring. Check out who made the cut and join the conversation using #LinkedInTopStartups.
Here are this year’s Top Startups in the U.S. Check out Top Startups 26-50 here.
Underdog, rising: Lyft never gloated over the stumbles of its scandal-plagued rival, Uber. Instead, it seized the chance to grow. It now controls 35% of the U.S. ride-sharing market, up from 20% in 2016, it says. The company has raised $4.3 billion (current valuation: $15.1 billion) to further expand. As cities such as New York City crack down on ride-hailing services, Lyft is thinking beyond cars to bikes and scooters, too. | Global headcount:3,000+ | Headquarters: San Francisco | Be well: Lyft recently introduced mental health benefits for employees, with training to help managers spot warning signs.
Food fight: Last year, fast-growing Halo Top rattled long-established rivals such as Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s when it became the best-selling ice cream pint in American grocery stores. Founded by former corporate lawyers, the 6-year-old company promises indulgence (largely) without guilt. Each pint of its low-sugar ice cream — in flavors like lemon cake and s’mores — contains fewer than 360 calories. Sales now top $350 million annually. | Global headcount: 100 | Headquarters: Los Angeles | Stay home: The company maintains no proper office; employees work remotely or at coworking spaces.
Crypto mania: The bitcoin frenzy catapulted Coinbase, the 6-year-old digital wallet and cryptocurrency exchange, to spectacular growth. It now has more than 20 million accounts, about double the number of Charles Schwab. Despite its rapid expansion, Coinbase is “absolutely not a run-fast-and-break-things culture,” the company tells LinkedIn; nearly 20% of employees work in compliance. | Global headcount: 500 | Headquarters: San Francisco | Coinbase education: “People come to Coinbase to earn their ‘MBA’ in crypto,” it says. The startup plans to double its headcount by year’s end.
Business brain: Noodle.ai offers “A.I. as a service,” helping clients optimize decisions through its algorithms and machine-learning tools. An airline used the 2-year-old startup’s computing platform to better price flights; others turn to it to cut waste from supply chains. Led by a former IBM Watson executive, Noodle.ai raised $35 million in June, more than tripling its total funding. | Global headcount: 130 | Headquarters: San Francisco | Punny: Despite its name, Noodle.ai abides by a strict no-pasta-references policy internally. “We can’t just pasta time making jokes,” the company tells LinkedIn.
Two-wheel disruptor: Riders hail it as a low-cost, eco-friendly future of transportation. Cities call it a nuisance and safety hazard. Investors hope it’s another Uber. Bird, the controversial electric scooter startup founded by a former Lyft and Uber exec, is polarizing — and ascendant. A little over a year old, it now operates in over 30 cities and is valued at $2 billion. Most rides cost $2-$3. | Global headcount: 380* | Headquarters: Venice, Calif. | “Bird hunters”: Bird pays contract workers to find and recharge scooters — a surprisingly cutthroat job.
Fee-free: Investment app Robinhood spooked big brokerage firms, vaulted to Unicorn status and attracted 5 million accounts — surpassing competitor E-Trade earlier this year — by offering commission-free stock trades. The 4-year-old startup, founded by Stanford roommates, has since expanded to cryptocurrencies and options, with ambitions to mimic every service found in a traditional bank, at lower costs. | Global headcount: 250 | Headquarters: Menlo Park, Calif. | Fresh ideas: Robinhood comes up with new products, in part, by studying what users search — yet fail to find — in its app, its co-CEO explained.
Finance, modernized: Sending money between banks, across borders, remains stubbornly antiquated. Ripple uses blockchain technology to transform what had been a multi-day process into one completed in seconds. The 6-year-old startup now has more than 100 customers, including massive banks such as Santander and Standard Chartered; it added two new customers a week last quarter. | Global headcount: 250 | Headquarters: San Francisco | Ripple effect: While some blockchain companies are still “playing in the sandbox,” as Ripple tells LinkedIn, it’s focused on growth — it plans to hire another 75 people by year’s end.
Beauty to the people: Glossier’s customers are core to the 3-year-old beauty brand’s success. Fans tell their friends about it, model for campaigns and help inform products, creating an authenticity long lacking in the industry. The company wants to keep rewarding those evangelists — its recently raised $52 million will go toward improving the customer experience through new digital products. | Global headcount: 280 | Headquarters: New York City | Female-run: Bucking the trend of a surprisingly male-dominated industry, women make up the majority of Glossier’s staff and board, which now includes Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake.
Inventor’s paradise: Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of the autonomous vehicle company, previously led Google’s self-driving car initiative. During his multi-decade career, he has been listed as aninventor on more than 60 patents, covering everything from blind-spot detection to traffic signal mapping. | Global headcount: 160 | Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif., Pittsburgh and San Francisco | Let’s talk jobs: Aurora Innovation employs six full-time technical recruiters in a 13-person recruiting department that amounts to nearly one-tenth of total payroll. | Read more: Pittsburgh’s surprising role in the self-driving quest.
Data to back it up: Rubrik, a cloud data management company, has been growing at breakneck speed while helping companies back up and protect their data. In 2017, it grew its customer base by 4x, expanded its employee headcount by 3x and officially became a Unicorn with a $1.3 billion valuation. | Global headcount: 1,200 | Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif. | Beyond the valley: The company’s global support team grew by 400% in 2017, helping expand Rubrik’s employee base around the world — including at its Kansas and North Carolina offices.
Fast fixes: What started as an on-demand smartphone repair company in 2015 has grown into a full-service smart device consultant — from demonstration to setup — partnering with the likes of Google and Samsung. Puls sends a technician to a customer’s door within an hour to fix a broken phone screen or hook up that Nest thermostat. Last month, the startup raised $50 million in Series C funding. | Global headcount: 80 | Headquarters: San Francisco | Top-tier talent: Puls relies on an army of 2,500 highly vetted freelance technicians — the company accepts only 8% of applicants, according to CEO Eyal Ronen.
Sharing the savings: This Kayak-like travel platform rewards employees for booking the cheaper hotel, flight or car rental by passing the savings onto them. The result? Companies save an average of 34% on business travel, according to the 3-year-old startup. | Global headcount: 350 | Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif. | Taking off: TripActions recently raised $51 million, making it one of the most well-capitalized business travel startups. It plans to use the extra funds to expand its global team with a focus on customer service, growing its headcount to over 800 employees by early 2020.
Trick of the trade: Flexport led the charge to digitize freight forwarding, helping companies easily track packages, ship faster and now navigate new tariffs. It tripled revenueand delivered more than $3.8 billion worth of goods for 15,000 companies last year. | Global headcount: 850 | Headquarters: San Francisco | Watch this space: The supply chain industry is growing fast and so is Flexport. The 5-year-old company plans to hire more than 500 employees across its nine offices by the end of 2018.
Something doesn’t add up: Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck knew someone needed to create a financial tool that addresses the gender investing gap — women typically live longer, are paid less and don’t invest as much as men. Enter Ellevest, Krawcheck’s three-tiered digital investing platform for women that has over $140 million in assets under management. | Global headcount: 65 | Headquarters: New York City | Stand out: The 3-year-old company looks for “culture add,” rather than fit, when hiring new employees.
Art of the sell: CEO Manny Medina landed a $2.3 million seed round by showing investors just one slide. Now Outreach, which made its first acquisition last month, helps sales teams at 2,400 companies close their own deals by using machine learning to streamline communication with potential leads. | Global headcount: 285 | Headquarters: Seattle | First order of business: Medina spends an hour every morning fist-bumping each one of his employees — a tactic that will be difficult to keep up as the company looks to double headcount by the end of the year.
Taking note: Samsara’s sensors and software for the shipping industry can track everything from real-time location and temperature to whether a fleet driver is distracted. The IoT startup is adding over 1,700 new customers each quarter as more companies look to go autonomous and minimize accidents. | Global headcount: 485 | Headquarters: San Francisco | Top-notch team: Samsara has hired over 50 employees from LinkedIn Top Companies — over half of those, including the company’s founders, are Cisco alums.
Special friend: When the autonomous vehicle company launched in Dec. 2016, it quickly won Ford Motor’s commitment to invest as much as $1 billion over the next five years. While Ford is Argo’s majority investor, Argo maintains its independence (with its own board of directors) and is revving up to work with other car-industry partners, too. | Global headcount: 350 | Headquarters: Pittsburgh | Homegrown talent: About 17% of Argo’s employees studied at either the University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon. Company CEO Bryan Salesky has ties to both. | Read more: Pittsburgh’s surprising role in the self-driving quest.
Fair game: This 3-year-old insurance company, which gained its Unicorn status after a $100 million funding round last month, uses A.I. to reward good drivers and deny bad ones. It plans to offer coverage nationwide, pending regulatory approvals, by the end of next year. | Global headcount: 135 | Headquarters: Columbus, Ohio | Back to their roots: The startup appeals to native Midwesterners, like Chief Creative Officer Travis McCleery, who wanted to move back from Silicon Valley for better opportunities and a higher quality of life.
By design: By focusing on gaps in the product design workflow — like reliance on multiple tools and a lack of real-time collaboration — InVision has established an edge against industry giants and garnered 4 million users at companies from Amazon to Netflix. | Global headcount: 705 | Headquarters: New York City | #nomad-life: The Slack channel where InVision employees, who are all remote, share photos and tips from their travels. Workers have also set up an informal housing exchange program, dubbed “Invbnb,” for their globetrotting colleagues.
Cloud nine: Snowflake Computing, a cloud-based data storage and analytics provider that’s competing with Oracle, raised $263 million and doubled its headcount all in the past year. Over 1,000 companies have embraced Snowflake for its pay-as-you-go model, ability to accommodate simultaneous users and choice between Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure cloud. | Global headcount: 510 | Headquarters: San Mateo, Calif. | World view: All three of Snowflake’s founders are from outside the U.S. and its employees represent over 35 different countries.
Rethinking the car: In the crowded race to build self-driving cars, Zoox refuses to retrofit existing vehicle designs. Instead, it’s using $800 million of venture funding to develop a radical new machine with no steering wheel. | Global headcount: 550 | Headquarters:Foster City, Calif. | Leadership shakeup: Last month, Zoox’s board ousted CEO and co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay. Board member Carl Bass stepped in as executive chairman and co-founder Jesse Levinson became president.
The sales assistant: Hubspot alums David Cancel and Elias Torres saw companies struggle to communicate with potential customers. Forms aren’t efficient, calls go unanswered — and leads get lost in the process. Drift’s chatbots step in to speed things up, shortening sales cycles by as much as 63%. | Global headcount: 190 | Headquarters: Boston | Money in the bank: With $90 million on hand after a recent funding round led by Sequoia Capital, Drift plans to expand internationally and make acquisitions in video and voice.
Ship it: To help product managers communicate a vision for engineers to execute, Aha! provides one place to lay out a product roadmap in a visually appealing way, even when on the go. The company is both self-funded and profitable. | Global headcount: 80 | Headquarters: Remote | Personal welcome: Despite being a distributed team in 71 cities worldwide, each new Aha! employee spends an hour one-on-one with CEO Brian de Haaffand is assigned a coach to lead them through a five-week training program.
The modern form of credit: Lending startup Affirm offers the same option as credit cards to “buy now, pay later” — now both online and in store for purchases of any size — but without the hidden fees. The company plans to boost its roster of more than 1,500 merchants by offering insights into consumer spending habits. | Global headcount: 390 | Headquarters: San Francisco | Open book: Affirm releases a yearly report breaking down the diversity of its workforce and the steps it’s taking to improve hiring.
Bitcoin bros: Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the world’s first bitcoin billionaires, set out to make trading cryptocurrency mainstream through their regulated exchange that allows you to do it in a secure and compliant manner — a trend they are trying to bring industry-wide. Despite a second failed attempt to get SEC approval for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund, the twins have been making headway with other cryptocurrencies. | Global headcount: 150 | Headquarters: New York City | Poached: Gemini recently recruited NYSE CIO Robert Cornish to head up its technology efforts.
Read more about next 25 Top Startups here and share your thoughts on this year’s list using #LinkedInTopStartups.
26. ConsenSys | 27. Clutch | 28. Databricks | 29. Allbirds | 30. Away | 31. BlueVoyant | 32. Convoy | 33. UnitedMasters | 34. Plenty | 35. Drive.ai | 36. The Wing | 37. Solovis | 38. Enjoy | 39. Bumble | 40. Skift | 41. Glint | 42. Thrive Global | 43. Outdoor Voices | 44. Cohesity | 45. Formation | 46. Katerra | 47. Axoni | 48. Harri | 49. CrowdStrike | 50. Highspot
LinkedIn measures startups based on four pillars: employment growth, engagement, job interest and attraction of top talent. Employment growth is measured as percentage headcount increase over one year, which must be a minimum of 15%. Engagement looks at non-employee views and follows of the company’s LinkedIn page as well as how many non-employees are viewing employees at that startup. Job interest counts what rate people are viewing and applying to jobs at the company, including both paid and unpaid postings. Attraction of top talent measures how many employees the startup has recruited away from LinkedIn Top Companies, as a percentage of the startup’s total workforce. Data is normalized across all eligible startups. The methodology time frame is July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
To be eligible, companies must be independent and privately held, have 50 or more employees, be 7 years old or younger and be headquartered in the country on whose list they appear. We exclude all staffing firms, think tanks, nonprofits, accelerators and government-owned entities.
*Headcounts are from LinkedIn Premium Insights, while remaining headcounts are provided by the companies. All headcount totals are rounded.