What company should I join?

“If you join a company, my general advice is to join a company on a breakout trajectory.”

— Sam Altman, President at Y Combinator

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Aug 2 2018 – Check out the Breakout List beta. (Please don't share the link publicly for now because we want to work out the kinks, but sharing privately is fine.)

The Breakout List, 2017

break·out adjective

more than $5mm gross profit (roughly revenue minus cost of goods sold) in 2017, not run rate. likely to 8x by 2020. defensible. if not monetizing yet, based on public comparables (biased source: investors)

Name Notes Product Stage Tags Investors Location
Working at Opendoor; great team; strong growth; huge market Buy/sell your home online Mid-size Breakout KV, GGV SF
Hiring hackers; network effect; strong growth; great team Startup funding and advice Early Breakout Sequoia SF/MTV
Working at AngelList; exceptional team; strong growth; growing market; incl PH subset Fundraising and recruiting for startups Early Breakout Atlas, GV SF/NYC
Large market Engineering microbes Mid-size Breakout DCVC, Softbank Emeryville, CA
Strong growth; large market Freight forwarding Mid-size Breakout FF, 8VC SF
Strong growth; large market Online content Mid-size Breakout Greylock, A16Z SF
Strong growth Background checks Mid-size Breakout Accel, YC SF
Strong growth Data backup, recovery, compliance etc for enterprise Mid-size Breakout LSVP, Greylock Palo Alto
Strong growth; large market Moneyball for clothing Mid-size Breakout Baseline, LSVP, Benchmark SF
Strong growth SaaS for law enforcement Mid-size Breakout GC, Spark NYC/DC
Strong growth Single sign-on for enterprises Mid-size Breakout A16Z, Greylock Various
Working at Intercom; strong growth Customer messaging platform Mid-size Breakout Social Capital, Bessemer SF, Dublin
Working at Segment; strong growth Analytics Mid-size Breakout Accel, Thrive SF
Strong growth In-memory databases Mid-size Breakout Accel, KV SF
Working at Tanium; Strong growth Enterprise security Mid-size Breakout A16Z Emeryville, CA
Strong growth Mortgage enterprise software Mid-size Breakout A16Z, LSVP, FF SF
Working at Docker Application containers Mid-size Breakout Benchmark, Greylock SF
Strong growth Brick and mortar analytics Mid-size Breakout F8, FF SF

View the list as a PNG image.

Google's gross profit over an 8 year period, beginning when Larry and Sergey started working on BackRub.

June 12 2017: If you joined a company because of the Breakout List, or currently work at a large tech company and are using the Breakout List to help find a new company to join, we'd love to ask you questions to make the product even better.

Send an email to [email protected]

Breakout List 2017, Extended

A few more companies that the $5mm gross profit in 2017 requirement, with less certainty on whether they will increase gross profit by the target of 8x over 3 years.

Name Product Stage Tags Investors Location
Hyperloop One Transportation tube Mid-size Breakout Sherpa LA
Affirm Loans Mid-size Breakout KV, Spark SF
Gusto Payroll, benefits & HR Mid-size Breakout GC, CapitalG SF
Wish Walmart, but online Mid-late Breakout F8, GGV SF
Thumbtack Find service professionals Mid-late Breakout Javelin, Sequoia SF
PlanGrid Construction software Mid-size Breakout Sequoia, Tenaya SF
Optimizely A/B testing Mid-size Breakout Benchmark, A16Z SF
Soylent Meal replacement Mid-size Breakout Lerer, A16Z LA
Synack Penetration testing Early Breakout KPCB, GGV, Icon Various
Lyft Car rides Mid-late Breakout Mayfield, FF SF
Slack Team chat Mid-late Breakout Accel, A16Z SF
Illumio Data center security Mid-size Breakout A16Z, GC Sunnyvale, CA
Qadium Network information for enterprise Mid-size Breakout FF, NEA SF
Collective Health Health benefits management Mid-size Breakout FF SF
Instacart Grocery delivery Mid-size Breakout KV, Sequoia, A16Z SF
OfferUp Local buy/sell classifieds Mid-size Breakout Jackson Square Bellevue, WA
Quora Q&A Mid-size Breakout Benchmark, Thiel MTV
Reddit Online communities/forums Mid-size Breakout Altman SF
Magic Leap Augmented reality Mid-late Breakout Google Various
Asana Enterprise task management Mid-size Breakout Benchmark, FF SF
Wealthfront Online investment management Mid-size Breakout DAG, Index PA
Pinterest Save and discover products Mid-late Breakout Bessemer, A16Z SF
Radius B2B marketing tools Mid-size Breakout AMEX, F8 SF
Nuna Health Healthcare data for enterprises Mid-size Breakout Non-public SF
Oscar Health Health insurance for consumers Mid-size Breakout Thrive, KV, GC NYC

The best companies have a) large markets or markets that will be very large in 10-20 years b) a strong moat c) the potential for many years of compounding growth without proportionally increasing costs, amongst other things.

To assess moat/defensibility, ask "how easy would it be for a competitor to build a cheap competitor and be more attractive?"

There is a large difference between a decent company that is likely to experience some growth and one that is likely to experience compounding growth for many years with a massive ceiling. Opportunities will be richer at the latter. If you're optimizing for opportunities, seek startups that are great, not hot.

Future Breakouts 2017

Companies where data makes us expect they will be on the 2018 Breakout List

Name Notes Product Stage Tags Investors Location
Shogun Inc. Read: Interview with the CEO Stealth Very early Future Breakout 8VC SF
??? Announced via Twitter/this email list. ???

April 2018: We have a new company that is early-stage and super interesting.

Foundational List 2017

Can be $100bn companies with minimal product changes by 2026.

As a side note, if joining Amazon, go to AWS. If joining Facebook, go to the AI lab or Oculus. If joining Alphabet, go to DeepMind.

More obvious
Name Notes Product Stage Tags Investors Location
Great network effect; strong growth; huge market Accommodation Late Foundational Sequoia, Greylock, A16Z SF
Working at Uber; strong growth; go to the Uber ATC or Otto teams Car rides Late Foundational FRC, Benchmark, Menlo SF, Pittsburgh
High energy market; go to Tesla Autopilot Team Cars and energy Late Foundational Elon Palo Alto
Name Notes Product Stage Tags Investors Location
Lots of hype lately in part due to Spectacles; nice network effect Cameras and messaging Late Foundational LSVP, Benchmark, IVP LA
Without SpaceX, no-one is working on colonizing mars. Rockets 🚀 Late Foundational Elon, FF LA
Expect Stripe to be building up defensibility; large and growing market Accept payments online Mid-size Foundational Thiel, Elon, Sequoia, GC SF
Earlier bets
Name Notes Product Stage Tags Investors Location
Working at Opendoor; exceptional team; strong growth; huge market Buy/sell your home online Mid-size Foundational KV, GGV SF
YC's Hiring Post; lots of action going on; strong brand; strong growth; exceptional team Startup funding and advice Early Foundational Sequoia SF/MTV
Working at Slack; repeat founders; central to customers' lives; momentum/growth Team chat Late Foundational Accel, A16Z SF

Important problems, The "Mission List" 2017

Important and valuable problems. Mission = "How would the world be different if this company didn't exist?"

Name Mission Tags Investors Location
Without Open Phil, big philanthropists won't systematically work out the most important problems for humanity and work on them — instead, people will choose emotionally. See also: 80,000 hrs, and more. Important Dustin, Cari SF
Without OpenAI, AI will pose a bigger risk to humanity. See more companies working on this. Important Sam, Greg, Reid, Jessica, Elon, Peter SF
Without SpaceX, no-one is working on colonizing mars. Important Elon, FF LA
List: Climate/Energy Without these companies, climate change will pose a bigger risk to humanity. Important Various Various
List: Biosecurity Without these companies, biosecurity will pose a bigger risk to humanity. Important Various Various

More missions in draft as well as specific lists e.g. bringing people out of poverty, helping elect a tech/engineering candidate in 2020 (indicate interest), or helping people be more satisfied and create more value (collaboration with Arik).

Depending on your values, these mission statements also apply:

"Without us, people will die of old age."

"Without us, people will factory farm huge numbers of animals."

"Without us, people governments and territories won't have incentives to compete."

"Without us, most people won't develop a sense of purpose."

"Without us, people won't be able to trust scientific research."

"Without us, addiction will remain a massive societal problem."

Ambition List, 2017

This list is a first in 2017. A few items on here are experiments from a friend, and as a result, the list will probably be a little confusing.

Breakout companies are great for ambitious people for the same reason schools like Stanford are great

a) you meet other ambitious people — future co-founders/employees

b) you get a high quality signal — useful for helping future co-founders find you, and allies/getting people to help you

c) you get a "paypal mafia" — great for future collaborators

The ambition list is more ways to get a) and b) and c), without joining a company.

PG on the best way to learn to make a startup successful:

“So really what you need to know early on to make a start up successful is developing products. You would be better off going to design school if you would want to go to some sort of school. Although frankly the way to learn how to do it is just to do it. One of the things I got wrong early on is that I advised people who were interested in starting a startup to go work for some other company for a few years before starting their own.”

— Paul Graham, Co-founder of Y Combinator

What should I apply to?

Don't limit your options before you need to. First, create options. Then, choose. Choosing first places unnecessary constraints.

Ambition List 2017, Extended

A few more high potential opportunities that are worth noting.

Name Notes Product Tags Time commitment Location
Venture Associate Venure firms + AngelList Analyst Program, etc High information environment + exposure to ambitious founders Future Founders 1-3 years SF/Menlo Park
Lab/Studio Gig Expa, Betaworks, HVF, etc High information environment Future Founders Various SF/NYC
Chief-of-Staff Roles High information environment + exposure to smart people Future Founders Various Various

Resource List

Be relentlessly resourceful.

Resources for companies

List of services for tech companies looking to hire engineers

Comprehensive Guide to Resources for Hiring Great People (very long, was non-public from Dec 2015 until now)

Resources for ambitious employees and future founders

Resource List: Figuring out what you want / your “purpose”

Life purpose questions

Resources for ambitious employees

Remember, building a great company takes time. Don't join a company and leave after three years because it hasn't won yet. Seek a company that you believe either has a) people so great you want to work with them for life or b) a problem so valuable you're willing to put 10-15 years into it. Then figure out where your current and future skills can help it win, and make it win.

Resource List: Getting hired at technology startups

Checklist: Engineer/data scientist resume checklist

Use A-List to get intros to founders and hiring managers and TripleByte to demonstrate your skill through programming tests.

Breakout List annotated version of the 2017 Wealthfront Career Launching Company List

Breakout Careers: Deciding which company to join, applying, interviewing, negotiating, comparing offers, and what to do after getting hired.

What type of company/opportunity is right for you?

Marc Andreessen Career Guide

Dustin's notes on "Somewhere that’s right for you: choosing your first startup"

List of great technology recruiters to reach out to

Offer checklist: checklist for deciding whether to join a specific company

How to get hired at small companies without standardized hiring processes (e.g. venture firms, labs/studios, chief-of-staff roles)

Guide to interviewing your future manager before deciding where to work

How to make the most of an opportunity (e.g. working at a startup) — for if you're already at a breakout, or once you get hired — if you apply to any breakouts, definitely read this!

"Is the list always correct?"


Why are some companies featured?

At Breakout List we curate a list of the best companies. We also want to make money so that we can stay in business so that we can keep curating this list, for you. Therefore, we sign recruiting agreements with companies. We think all the companies should sign recruiting agreements. However, not all are willing to — we can't force them. But what we do do with the others is, we want to give them an incentive to sign a recruiting agreement. And the incentive is we allow them to put more in depth content about their company on the Breakout List, and be listed in a more prominent location. That's it! We ignore requests asking to pay to be on the list, and we don't knock any company off the list because they won't do a recruiting agreement with us, we simply allow the ones that do to give more content and more description to you, and to be shown in a more prominent location. That's it! And all this allows us to continue, indefinitely, to keep giving you the best curated list possible.

“Why isn't {company} on this list?”

Many companies are well known. Some companies have decent sized monetizable consumer attention or gross profit. Fewer companies have very high growth rates.

How do you get data? Why is this better than looking at an investor's portfolio? Can I get my company on the list? FAQ

Previous lists

View the 2016 (end of 2015) list as a PDF (size: 285KB) and as a Quip document.

View the Q2 2015 list


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The Breakout List is compiled by surveying venture and angel investors. We do not attempt to scrape public data.

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