Sometimes slow and steady does win the race.
Startups that raised a lot of money during the boom years—and avoided spending sprees—now look smart as venture funding dries up. One measure of whether startups will be able to outlast the current downturn is how many people they’ve hired relative to how much money they’ve raised, since labor is often the biggest cost for software startups.
An analysis of U.S. software startups that are highly valued or that raised a large sum of funding during the pandemic shows a wide range. Crypto exchange FTX, messaging app Discord and fintech company Chime are among those that have raised the most money while limiting hiring. For example, FTX has raised close to $2 billion but has just 300 employees, according to PitchBook data. By contrast, BetterUp, which provides leadership development coaching to companies, has raised less than one-third as much—$632 million—but has more than twice as many employees—740, according to a spokesperson. BetterUp also relies on a cadre of more than 3,000 contractors who deliver the bulk of its coaching services.