The 20 best unicorn startups to work for, according to their employees

2015 was clearly the year of the unicorn: startups that raised boatloads of venture capital money and were valued by their investors at over $1 billion.

It’s already looking like 2016 could be the year that many of these unicorns run into trouble, as venture funds are getting tighter and more expensive, and some valuations are already deflating.

But other unicorns will continue to soar.

To find out which ones seem to be doing well, we went to the insiders: employees, via the employee reviews of their employers they shared on job-hunting site Glassdoor.

We began with the 156 companies on the Crunchbase Unicorn Leaderboard. Glassdoor whittled that down to 83 companies for which it had the data of at least 30 employee reviews over the last two years. (This created a different list from Glassdoor’s recent survey of the Best Places to Work for 2016, which included many of these companies, but only used reviews from the past year).

We then ranked those 83 by employees’ total satisfaction rating, where employees rate their companies on a 1-5 scale with 1 being least satisfied, and 5 being most. (Glassdoor itself is also a unicorn company with a rating of 4.7, but it excluded itself from this list.)

The average company rating is across all 445,000 companies on Glassdoor’s site is 3.3. The average rating for the 83 unicorns on this list is a 3.8, and all of the companies on the Top 20 were rated higher than a 4.

No. 20: Sprinklr, 'Having fun while working hard.'

Ragy Thomas

Employee rating: 4.3 out of 5

Raised: $124 million

Valuation: $1.22 billion as of March

Sprinkler offers social media and marketing cloud software to businesses.

'Super-smart, dynamic and motivated colleagues that truly care about the customer experience and supporting each other! Flexible PTO policy, very good benefits, work from home options, as well as gym membership discounts. Culture values having fun while working hard and work life balance!' -- Sprinklr Product Support Engineer (location n/a)

19. Airbnb, fast growing game-changing company

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

Employee rating: 4.3 out of 5

Raised: $3.89 billion

Valuation: $27 billion as of December 2015

Airbnb is an online service that matches people with rooms or homes to rent with visitors who need short-term accommodations.

'The employee experience at Airbnb has improved over the last year and I believe it will keep getting better. I started as an hourly employee and the company has rewarded me for hard work, creativity, and ongoing contributions by allowing and encouraging me to work in a variety of roles. I've been able to learn from multiple teams and mentors and that has strengthened my cross-functional skills.' -- Airbnb Employee (San Francisco, CA)

No. 18: Kabbage, an Atlanta company with Silicon Valley-like perks

Kabbage
Rob Frohwein of Kabbage

Employee rating: 4.3 out of 5

Raised: $238 million

Valuation: $1 billion as of October.

Helps small businesses secure loans by applying online.

'This is the first job I've had that makes me excited to go to work every day. Everyone initially focuses on the Silicon Valley startup style benefits like daily free lunch and unlimited PTO, but it is really unique in how many people really take ownership of the business and care deeply about growth and doing right by customers and the community.' -- Kabbage Software Engineer (Atlanta, GA)

No. 17: Domo, another startup by a successful CEO

Domo CEO Josh James

Employee rating: 4.4 out of 5

Raised: $459 million

Valuation: $$2.01 billion as of July

Domo is a big data analytics service that pulls data from many sources, from Bing web searches to Zuora's accounting software.

Domo was founded by Josh James, who was formerly the cofounder CEO of Omniture, bought by Adobe for $1.8 billion in 2009.

'Beyond the long list of work perks, exciting product, and innovative culture, my favourite thing about working at Domo is the quality of the people. The teams at Domo are extremely smart, hard-working, and truly engaged in building Domo to be the leader in business management.' -- Domo Sales/Marketing Manager (location n/a)

No 16: Okta: solving cloud security headaches for enterprises

Okta
Okta cofounders Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest

Employee rating: 4.4 out of 5

Raised: $230 million

Valuation: $1.2 billion as of September

Okta offer cloud computing software to businesses for managing employee passwords and accounts to other cloud computing services.

'The Okta culture is the best I've experienced in my 20+ years of work. The teams and individuals are extremely collaborative and smart while at the same time humble. Everyone is passionate about the product and the company mission which lends to a positive and exciting work environment.' -- Okta Senior Manager (San Francisco, CA)

No. 15: Twilio, solving the hard problem of helping apps 'talk'

Twilio
Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson

Employee rating: 4.4 out of 5

Raised: $204 million

Valuation: $1.03 billion as of July

Twilio is a service that allows developers to add texts and internet phone calls to their apps and websites.

'Twilio has an incredibly driven environment. There's a mentality running through the office of genuinely wanting to change the world with these products. It's cool, motivating, and in turn, one can find themselves surrounded by very intelligent people working very hard and fast.' -- Twilio Employee (San Francisco, CA)

No. 14: Pinterest, a hugely popular way to share ideas

Getty / Michael Kovac

Employee rating: 4.4 out of 5

Raised: $1.32 billion

Valuation: $11.2 billion as of June

Pinterest is a visual social media site where people can discover and share ideas on all sorts of topics that interest them like fashion, decorating, gifts, cooking, party ideas, sports and so on.

'Company caters to those who prefer action over discussion. Impressive office spaces, brilliant and interesting colleagues, flexible work policy, fun product. Culture really is something else here -- I feel like Pinterest genuinely cares about me as a person.' -- Pinterest Software Engineer (San Francisco, CA)

No. 13: MediaMath, automating marketing in a digital world

MediaMath
MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki

Employee rating: 4.5 out of 5

Raised: $208 million

Valuation: $1.07 billion as of May

MediaMath makes ad-buying and marketing automation software.

'A carefully selected, highly skilled pool of employees, where everyone demonstrates a can-do attitude. An environment where employees are empowered to drive change, and new ideas are welcomed. Excellent benefits, from healthcare to pension scheme. A rapidly growing company, constantly innovating and changing.' -- MediaMath Platform Support Analyst London, England)

No. 12: Tintri, new-age computer storage for big companies

Tintri
Tintri CEO Ken Klein

Employee rating: 4.6 out of 5

Raised: $260 million

Valuation: $1 billion as of August.

Tintri offers enterprise computer storage based on flash technology, the same kind of fast storage technology used by smartphones and thumb drives.

'Tintri has built a team of some the smartest and hardest working people in the industry. Leadership is what leadership should be - respected, motivating, and forward-thinking. They understand the importance of investing in the well-being and career development of their employees.' -- Tintri Partner Sales Manager (location n/a)

No. 11: Credit Karma, a high-flying fintech startup

Credit Karma CEO Kenneth Lin

Employee rating: 4.6 out of 5

Raised: $368 million

Valuation: $3.5 billion as of June

Credit Karma helps consumers monitor their credit ratings and lets people find various financial services like loans, credit cards and insurance.

'Credit Karma is fantastic because it tackles interesting technological questions at a great location with smart people who care about one another. We have perks and experiences that are tough to beat. Credit Karma's employees universally buy in to its culture - great work/life balance, celebrating each other's accomplishments, etc.' -- Credit Karma Software Engineer (San Francisco, CA

No. 10: AppDirect, helping businesses find cloud apps

AppDirect
AppDirect cofounder Nicolas Desmarais and Daniel Saks

Employee rating: 4.6 out of 5

Raised: $245 million

Valuation: $1.04 billion as of October

AppDirect is an app store for cloud services geared toward businesses.

'Passionate, hard-working, brilliant co-workers and leadership. Product is way ahead of its time, and has ability to change the very foundation of how businesses function by increasing efficiency, transparency, and broadly fix the disparate nature of software consumption today. I love coming to work every single day.' -- AppDirect Employee (San Francisco, CA)

No. 9: Cloudera, king of the big data tech called Hadoop

Cloudera cofounder Amr Awadallah

Employee rating: 4.6 out of 5

Raised: $1.04 billion

Valuation: $4.1 billion as of September, 2014

Cloudera offers a commercial version of and support for a popular 'big data' technology called Hadoop. Hadoop is free and open source but difficult to install and complicated to work with. Cloudera makes it easier for companies to use Hadoop.

'I've been working in technology for almost 20 years, and I've never had an experience like I have at Cloudera. Culture is positive across the board. Employees help each other every single day. Products are top notch. Management team is more committed to the products and customer success than they are at lining their own pockets.' -- Cloudera Employee (location n/a)

No. 8: Eventbrite, helping events run smoothly

Eventbrite
Eventbrite Founders Renaud Visage, Julia Hartz, and Kevin Hartz

Employee rating: 4.7 out of 5

Raised: $200 million

Valuation: $1.06 billion as of March, 2014

Eventbrite helps event organisers promote, run and manage events.

'I have worked at many companies, small & big, but never anything like EventBrite. This is the greatest company for engineers who want to learn, grow, and collaborate with others. They have a team of engineers who are really smart, but at the same time very personable.' -- Eventbrite Software Engineer (San Francisco, CA)

No. 6: SimpliVity, faster, less expensive data centres

Employee rating: 4.7 out of 5

Raised: $277 million

Valuation: $1.03 billion as of March, 2015

SimpliVity makes products for a new data center market known as 'hyperconverged.' Its devices combine computers and storage for running what's known as 'virtual machines,' which allows computer servers to run very efficiently by loading lots of different applications onto one computer.

'The company works extremely hard to ensure that all employees have an energetic, positive and team-focused attitude. They want their work to mean something, they want to make an impact on the IT industry -- and they understand that SimpliVity can help achieve that goal.' -- SimpliVity Manager (Westborough, MA)

No. 5: Thumbtack, leading consumers to professional help

YouTube/Startup Grind
Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta

Employee rating: 4.7 out of 5

Raised: $273.2 million

Valuation: $1.3 billion as of September

Thumbtack matches consumers with local service professionals whether its an exterminator or a voice instructor.

'Everyone's really committed to excellence. The people are incredibly friendly, intelligent, and reasonable. Management structure is very flat and highly transparent. I think this company has a tremendous future ahead of it, and I'm happy to be a part of it.' -- Thumbtack Site Reliability Engineer (San Francisco, CA)

No. 4: Nutanix, the king of the 'hyperconverged' data center

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey

Employee rating: 4.7 out of 5

Raised: $312 million

Valuation: $2.14 billion as of August, 2014

Nutanix helped create a new data center market known as 'hyperconverged' which combines computers and storage with the software that makes computers run more efficiently.

It plans to go public soon.

'Fantastic culture and management that is thinking strategically and making the right decisions for building a world-class company. All A-type players, always thinking big but thinking smart, going big and delivering bigger consistently. Amazed at what is being accomplished when people work together, given the right tools and culture and allowed to execute.' -- Nutanix Vice President (San Jose, CA)

No. 3: Dropbox, cloud storage for the masses

Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston

Employee rating: 4.8 out of 5

Raised: $600 million

Valuation: $10 billion as of January, 2014

Dropbox offers cloud storage where consumers or businesses can store files and collaborate around documents.

'High calibre of talent. I've never once been frustrated by someone else's lack of competence. I've never been slighted by someone's lack of integrity or selfishness. Learning galore. Lots of growth means you get to take on responsibilities that you wouldn't otherwise have at an established company.' -- Dropbox Product Manager (San Francisco, CA)

No. 2: DraftKings, from fantasy sports to big business

Draftkings
DraftKings CEO Jason Robins

Employee rating: 4.9 out of 5

Raised: $375 million

Valuation: $1.2 billion as of July

DraftKings does what it calls 'daily Fantasy leagues' where people can win money on individual games during the season, and its backed by huge names in sports like Fox Sports, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and others.

DraftKings is currently duking it out with several states who want to label it as gambling, which comes with a boatload of regulatory requirements.

'What stands out more than anything is the culture. Everyone brings so much passion every day to the office and it's a place that is hard to leave. It doesn't feel like coming to work, it feels like going to hang out with your friends. We play hard and work harder.' –DraftKings Writer (Boston, MA)

No. 1: Pluralsight, helping IT Pros learn more tech

Pluralsight
Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard

Employee rating: 4.9 out of 5

Raised: $163 million

Valuation: $1.14 billion as of August, 2014

Pluralsight online training for IT professionals and wannabe developers that features unlimited access to thousands of courses for a monthly fee.

'Employees are trusted to think and act in the best interest of the company. You won't find layers of management and oversight, but a community of people who enjoy working together. Leadership and board members study system and cultural concepts to continually improve the company. They are determined to overcome the limitations endured by traditional companies.' -- Pluralsight Software Craftsman (Farmington, UT)

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