dept d
Market Research

Sharing Economy Unicorns: Data on How they Grew their Teams

November 18, 2022

5 minutes

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Inspired by this post by David Sacks on the SaaS Org Chart, we looked into our data on the four companies to see what job areas they focused on at various stages of funding. David mentions: Uber, Doordash, Airbnb and Lyft–starting with the percentage of the total company headcount represented by each department at each round of fundraising.

dept d

The four companies had surprisingly similar department size ratios in the months they raised their respective Series D rounds. Customer Service comprised between 6% and 10% of total employees, and engineering between 16% and 18%. The big standout is Doordash’s emphasis on Sales versus Uber, Airbnb, and Lyft’s focus on Marketing.

doordash growth

Looking at Doordash’s department size ratio through 5 of its fundraising rounds, A through E, we see that its focus on Sales happened as it grew, particularly from Series B to D.

doordash b d

That seems to represent the result of a shift away from Customer Service and Marketing. Through that time period as the entire company grew by nearly 700%, and Sales grew by 2,100%, the Customer Service team only grew by 200% and Marketing by 350%.

airbnb growth

Airbnb’s department size ratio data shows a similar Series B to D shift, but in this case, away from Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Engineering, Design and Operations. Is this evidence of a pivot towards product-driven growth to achieve scale?

airbnb b d

uber growth

Uber’s data shows several shifts, including an interesting move away from Design and Engineering to customer service. This could be the result of a simple app, that once launched is only updated incrementally compared to the customer service challenges of scaling a large B2C customer base.

Deconstructing Uber, Doordash, AirBnB and Lyft using our data, we see that these sharing economy unicorns each had different areas of relative focus along the way, yet each has been successful in growing their businesses through the years.

Dan Zarrella
Dan Zarrella

Dan Zarrella is the award-winning social media scientist and author of four books: “The Science of Marketing,” “Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness,” “The Social Media Marketing Book” and The Facebook Marketing Book. He currently serves as PDL's in-house Content Scientist, surfacing insights from our dataset to illustrate the power of B2B data.