The Top 20 Design Unicorns

Jason Culbertson
Dec 2, 2015 · 3 min read

by Jason Culbertson

If you are a designer, then you know that there is no clear methodology for determining the best tech unicorn to work for. Uber? Airbnb (I work as a design mgr here)? Instacart? All designers want to work for a company that appreciates design and is poised for success — the Design Unicorns. But how do we determine this other then using social proof or personal reference?

Using simple searches on LinkedIn and Mattermark, I created a list that any designer can use to evaluate these unicorns and help improve their next job search.


  • Collected valuation data from a list of all unicorns

I realize that this is a very simple methodology and doesn’t take into account actual product interest, location, or breakdown of designer types. Also, it’s limited to my ability to search through job titles on LinkedIn so assume some error on my end.

I also limited Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft to just US-based employees as I found many listing themselves on LinkedIn as drivers or hosts.

Top 20 Design Unicorns

See the full list of 91 unicorns here. (*updated 12/14/15)


Amongst the Top 20 are some expected results (Airbnb, Snapchat, Pinterest, Slack), but there are many that definitely surprised me:

  • Buzzfeed, a company that would have not been on my radar before, had the 2nd highest designer % and the 7th highest Mattermark score, making it the top Design Unicorn.


My goal was to create a simple formula to provide insight into the top Design Unicorns. It’s an inexact science but helps level the playing field and provides some insight into cultures and importance of design within a company. Most importantly, my goal was to overcome social hype and provide an additional tool to use when looking for a unicorn job.

I’d love to hear any feedback on my methodology and suggestions on improving it. Feel free to comment or message me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Jason Culbertson

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Design Manager @airbnb. Check me out at