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Mike Kreuzer

Languages used by start-ups

November 7, 2018

The question 'which programming languages are used by start-ups?' gets asked from time to time, and I would have previously answered (incorrectly as it turns out nowadays) that the split is roughly equal amongst Ruby, Java and PHP, with Python maybe making up the rest.

That impression I think came from when I last looked at these numbers, and was inspired by an article in 2014 that used YCombinator funded companies as a proxy for start-ups generally. My recollection is that four years ago my answer would have been right. That's my story any way.

Using the same method now and comparing the numbers against this month's figures from the Ripley index, which ranks reddit's programming language subreddits by number of subscribers:

Ripley Language Subscribers YCombinator
1 JavaScript 429,259 113
2 Python 287,818 74
3 Java 103,248 29
4 PHP 82,009 22
5 C# 78,795 1
6 C++ 72,405 0
7 Go 57,056 10
8 Ruby 46,864 19
9 Rust 44,976 0
10 C 40,781 1

Thus corrected, my answer for the moment would be that about half use JavaScript, a quarter Python, and the rest are made up of the old leaders Java, PHP, & Ruby, as well as the newcomer Go. A half of them, JavaScript. Incredible.

Apart from the system languages (C, C++, Rust), and the expensive Microsoft ecosystem (C#), the correlation with Ripley's top 10 seems strong to me, in future I think I'll also refer enquirers to Ripley.