How many startups are out there?

The FTC report says that there were 86 US exits to GAFAM for over $50m from 2010 to 2019. According to the NVCA, there were 2,100 US VC exits for over $50m in that period. Selling to those five companies was 4% of decent-sized exits.

(People sometimes suggest that entrepreneurs start companies and VCs fund them in the hope that they will be bought by Google. This data should make it clear why VCs think this is hilarious.)

The same point applies to the total data set. GAFAM bought 400 US companies from 2010 to 2019 for over $1m, of which 86 were over $50m and 314 were between $1m and $50m. In the same period, the NVCA reports 3,600 US VC exits where a value was disclosed (and 9,600 total).

This prompts a broader observation: I’m not always sure how many people understand just how many startups are being created now. From 2010 to 2019, YCombinator alone backed 1,561 US companies (353 have died and 253 were acquired, while 955 remain independent). In the total US market, the NVCA reported 32,000 companies raising their first funding. This, really, is the context for those 400 US GAFAM acquisitions.


This is one of the many passages I read in books and articles on a daily basis. They span many disciplines, including:

I occasionally add a personal note to them.

The whole collection is available here.