The Teams Behind the Top Seven Companies to Come Out of Y Combinator

Sarah HallamTop Lists
Brian Chesky

Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky at a conference in 2016. Airbnb was part of YC's W09 batch. Courtesy of Airbnb.

What do Airbnb, Doordash, Gitlab and Reddit all have in common? They’re all prodigies of Y Combinator’s lucrative startup accelerator.

Twice a year the well-known venture capital firm and startup accelerator invests seed money into early-stage startups. The program has resulted in some of the world’s most successful companies that have gone on to create thousands of jobs in new or dormant markets.

The Org rounded up the top seven companies to come out of YC as of January 2021, taking a look at their humble beginnings and the impact they’ve made on the job market since their early seed-round days.

Airbnb

Airbnb

Valuation/market cap: $100.1B Jobs created: 6,000 Employee size: 5,000

Part of the winter 2009 batch, Airbnb was started by CEO Brian Chesky, CTO Nate Blecharcyzk and CPO Joe Gebbia. The company’s model was a total disruption of the hospitality space, introducing the gig economy to a new cohort of “hosts” able to offer up their spare rooms or properties to guests looking for a place to stay. It has since created 6,000 jobs and has grown to an employee size of 5,000, although the company did unleash a series of pandemic-induced layoffs in 2020. Motivated by a “family culture,” Airbnb has also created a talent directory for its former employees so that other companies can easily tap into its network.

DoorDash

DoorDash OC

Valuation: $46.07 billion Jobs created: 6,000 Employee size: 1600

DoorDash, another gig economy giant, has created 6,000 jobs since its inception in YC’s summer 2013 batch. The company has since grown to 1,600 employees and has been fundamental in carving out the role of the gig economy worker through its restaurant-delivery technology. After going public in December last year, DoorDash gained a $46.07 million valuation and is used in over 600 cities across the U.S. and Canada.

Stripe

Stripe OC

Valuation: $95 billion Employee size: 2,600 Jobs created: 3000

Like Airbnb, Fintech startup Stripe came out of YC’s Summer 2009 batch. Also like Airbnb, its model shook up the market, but this time in internet transaction payment infrastructure and software. Some of its clients have even turned into high-growth startups, including Lyft and KickStarter. Founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, Stripe just closed a $600 million Series H round in March and has been rumored to be looking for a $100 billion valuation in a private equity deal, which would make it the most valuable venture capital-backed startup in U.S. history.

Dropbox

Dropbox OC

Valuation/market cap: $10.41B Jobs created: 2,300 Employee size: 4,000

Dropbox is the oldest startup on the list, with roots dating back to YC’s 2007 summer batch. Co-founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi have scaled their cloud-syncing platform into a massive 4,000 person company, creating over 2,300 jobs. It’s found ways to keep innovating as a “productivity tool” service, despite increased crowding in the cloud software space.

Cruise

Cruise OC

Valuation: $30 billion Employee size: 1,800 Jobs created: 1,700

Silicon Valley has had its sights set on self-driving cars since Google made its research into AV mainstream in 2009. But despite the hype and competition surrounding the self-driving car market, Cruise Automation has come out as one of the most valuable, and it was acquired by GM in 2016. Cruise started out in the winter 2014 batch with the goal of creating a completely driverless future. Founded by Kyle Vogt, one of the co-founders of Twitch, and Daniel Kan, Cruise has already partnered up with industry giants like Honda, and the team secured a $2 billion equity round by Microsoft in January pushing it towards a $30 billion valuation.

Instacart

Instacart

Valuation: $39 billion Jobs created: 2,000 Employee size: 1,500

Another startup to break into the gig economy space (noticing a trend here?) is Instacart. Launched as part of the Summer 2012 batch of YC companies, Instacart is now the North American leader in the online grocery shopping market, and it has quickly become one of the fastest-growing companies in e-commerce. Co-founders Apoorva Mehta, Max Mullen and Brandon Leonardo have created 2,000 jobs and are rapidly building out Instacart’s executive team ahead of a rumored IPO.

Coinbase

Org Chart

Valuation: $85.8 billion Jobs created: 1,200 Employee size: 500

Coinbase was already considered a top YC company at the start of this year, four months before its blockbuster public listing on the Nasdaq on April 14. The cryptocurrency company is now valued at around $85.8 billion and founder Brian Armstrong quickly skyrocketed to the world’s richest list after his 20% stake valued out at around $16 billion. Coinbase has also gained unicorn status in part because of the intriguing team it’s built out since 2012 when it was founded as part of YC’s summer 2012 batch.

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