More Open Source Benchmarks, the ROSS Index and the Fastest-Growing OSS Startups in Q3

After the success of my previous post on open-source benchmarks, it has become clear that: (1) tech companies and VCs eager to monitor fresh fast-growing OSS startups, and (2) repos based on various programming languages need additional benchmarks. So this article extends the benchmarks, introduces such a monitoring tool and unveil a new set of 20 fastest-growing open-source startups (based on Q3 2020 data).

⚙️ Programming Language Matters

One of the missing parts of open-source growth benchmarks were metrics for various programming languages. Obviously, it’s better to compare apples to apples, not JavaScript to C++ repos. So I analyzed the distribution of star growth for repositories depending on their main language.

One could use data on ~26K Github repos having 1K+ stars at the beginning of Q2 2020 and examine their growth by stars over the following 6 months.

For the sake of convenience, let’s focus only on the most popular languages representing ~3/4 of the dataset. They are JavaScript, Python, Java, Go, C, C++, PHP Objective-C, Ruby.

Like last time, we will use an annualised growth rate [AGR = (value now / value 2 quarters ago)² — 1] to represent growth of stars in the year-over-year format. One can plot the distribution chart, showing for every language [legend] that X% of its repos [x-axis] grow <Y% per year [y-axis].

For instance, 60% of Java repos grow slower than 10% annually, 55% of Go repos grow slower than 20% annually. The extreme cases of the fastest (>90% quantile) and the slowest (<10% quantile) repos are intentionally excluded to show the general picture.

Surprisingly, 3 clear groups appear among the top languages:

  • Group A (Go, Python, C++, C) includes trendy languages mostly used for back-end software development. A repo based on any of these languages grows better than the average if its annual growth rate exceeds 17%.
  • Group B (Java, JavaScript, PHP) combines a couple of popular web development languages and Java, which seems to have much more common with JavaScript besides its name 🙂
  • Group C (Ruby, Objective-C) is the slowest growing set of languages losing popularity in the developer community. According to Github Language Stats share of Ruby pull requests at Github has dropped 3 times from its peak in 2012 to 6.5% in 2020. Objective-C dropped 5x since 2014.

Why not create a similar distribution for forks? Actually, there is no major need in this, because the growth rates of stars and forks are highly correlated. One can see the same 3 clusters at the chart of annualised growth rates for both stars and forks (average numbers for the selected languages):

For those who care: Fork Growth = 0.97 x Stars Growth (R² = 98%)

In a nutshell, the propagation of Github popularity really depends on programming languages and corresponding development cultures.

📈 Meet our Open Source Startup Index

The idea of the software-focused index is not radically new. There are 2 well-known stock market indexes by venture funds (Bessemer, OpenView), and even a few projects about private open-source companies.

They all are cool for selected niches, but miss a combo of features required for being an OSS startup index: focus on startups and a measurable approach to creating/updating a list:

  • In 2013 Joseph Jacks (OSS Capital) introduced the COSS Index featuring the companies with $100M+ revenues heavily relying on open source. It is a perfect hall of fame for commercial OSS but is not about startups.
  • In 2017 Battery Ventures published own BOSS Index. It had a nice name and original quantitative method for the selection, but the index’s first release was the last one. The project is dead for years. It also focused more on open-source projects (not companies) and mixed startups (like Nginx) with large established corporations (like RedHat) in one list.
  • In 2020 Accel launched the Open100, a collection of the fastest-growing OSS startups. No measurable methodology or an update period was introduced, so I hardly can call it an index (while the list is very good!).

So let me introduce the Runa Capital’s Open Source Startup (ROSS) Index (see at having all the required features above. It is transparent, measurable and fully focused on open-source startups.

The ROSS Index consists of the 20 fastest-growing OSS startups and uses a methodology, which was introduced previously and based on AGR for Github stars. We will update the ROSS index every quarter.

While Github stars are not a perfect parameter for open-source project evaluation, they highlight new fast-growing startups on top of developers’ mind. This is a quantitative metric we could start with.

Note that, our index is a live evolving project and fully open for contributions from the OSS community. Don’t hesitate to share your comments and ideas regarding its development with me.

Finally, let’s take a look at the recent catch of the ROSS Index in Q3 2020.

🦄 Top-20 startups by Github star growth (Q3 2020)

The leaderboard is highly dynamic, and only 4 companies (Hugging Face, Meili, Prisma, Framer) have remained in the index since last quarter. Hugging Face even managed to make it with its another repo. Also, two fast-growing startups were excluded from the list because they were acquired in Q3 by large companies (Rancher — by SUSE in July, Lens — by Mirantis in August).

  1. Plausible (plausible/analytics, 2.9K stars, 2527% AGR). Web analytics service (an open-source alternative to Google Analytics). Founded in 2018 in Estonia. Noteworthy, its founders do not raise external funding to remain a fully independent analytics company.
  2. Hugging Face (huggingface/datasets, 3.4K stars, 2471% AGR). The developer of the NLP-library Transformers, that debuted in the previous issue of our index. Founded in 2016 in Paris and raised $20.2M from Lux Capital, SV Angel, A.Capital, etc.
  3. Gitpod (gitpod-io/gitpod, 2.5K stars, 1383% AGR). Cloud integrated development environment (IDE). Founded in 2019 in Kiel, Germany and raised $3M from Speedinvest, Crane Venture Partners, Vertex Ventures.
  4. Prefect (prefecthq/prefect, 5.1K stars, 923% AGR). Data workflow automation platform. Founded in 2018 in Washington, D.C., and raised $2.5M from unknown investors.
  5. Passbolt (passbolt/passbolt_api, 2.2K stars, 503% AGR). Password manager for teams. Founded in 2016 in Luxembourg and raised ~$0.74M from Expon Capital.
  6. Meili (meilisearch/meilisearch, 9.2K stars, 385% AGR). API-focused fast search engine (an alternative to ElasticSearch and Algolia). Founded in 2018 in Paris and raised $1.5M from LocalGlobe, Seedcamp, Kima, etc.
  7. QAWolf (qawolf/qawolf, 2.1K stars, 374% AGR). Browser testing service. Founded in 2019 in New York and has no known external funding to date.
  8. VESoft (vesoft-inc/nebula, 4.5K stars, 351% AGR). The developer of distributed and fast graph database NebulaGraph. Founded in 2018 in Hangzhou, China and raised $8M from Redpoint and Matrix Partners.
  9. Frontity (frontity/frontity, 1.5K stars, 299% AGR). React framework for building headless WordPress websites. Founded in 2015 in Madrid and raised $1.6M from K Fund.
  10. Checkly (checkly/headless-recorder, 10K stars, 283% AGR). Active monitoring and end-to-end-testing platform for developers. Founded in 2018 in Berlin and raised $2.3M from Accel, etc
  11. Prisma (prisma/prisma, 5.5K stars, 262% AGR). Database toolkit for TypeScript and Node.js. Founded in 2016 in Berlin raised $16.5M from Kleiner Perkins, Mango Capital, Amplify Partners, etc
  12. ORY (ory/kratos, 1.4K stars, 209% AGR). Identity and access control infrastructure for cloud developers. Founded in 2015 in Munich and has no known external funding to date.
  13. Supabase (supabase/supabase, 2.3K stars, 207% AGR). Low-code API solution for PostgreSQL database (an open-source alternative to Firebase). Founded in 2020 in Singapore and raised $125k from Y Combinator.
  14. Chaosix (relativty/relativty, 4.9K stars, 199% AGR). Stealth-mode VR startup by creators of open-source VR headset Relativty. Founded in 2020 in Paris and raised the unknown amount from The Family.
  15. BoostIO (boostio/, 1.8K stars, 175% AGR). The creator of Boosthub, a collaborative platform for developers. Founded in 2014 in Tokyo and raised ~$0.95M from ANRI, F Ventures, etc.
  16. BentoML (bentoml/bentoml, 1.7K stars, 171% AGR). A platform for high-performance ML model serving. Founded in 2018 in San Francisco and raised the unknown amount from Alchemist Accelerator.
  17. Framer (framer/motion, 7.3K stars, 169% AGR). Prototyping tools for teams trending with its OS library Motion. Founded in 2013 in Amsterdam and raised $33M by from Atomico, Accel, Foundation Capital, etc.
  18. Uno Platform (unoplatform/uno, 2.9K stars, 161% AGR). An app development platform for C# and WinUI. Founded in 2011 in Montreal and has no known external funding to date.
  19. Alegro (allegroai/trains, 1.8K stars, 148% AGR). A platform for the management of ML products life-cycle. Founded in 2016 in Tel Aviv and raised $11M from MizMaa Ventures, Samsung Catalyst, Hyundai, etc.
  20. PostHog (posthog/posthog, 3.2K stars, 148% AGR). Product analytics service (an open-source alternative to Mixpanel). Founded in 2020 in London and raised $3M from 1984 Ventures, Y Combinator, etc.

Update (22 Oct 2020). The initial version of Q3 index missed 2 companies (Checkly, Alegro) due to imperfect manual detection process of 20 startups out of 1000+ fastest-growing repos. Thanks to the bug report, it was quickly fixed, while we will add more checks in the future and improve the process.

The companies shifted to #21 and #22 positions are:

  1. Pomerium (pomerium/pomerium, 1.9K stars, 141% AGR). Identity and access security for cloud applications. Founded in 2019 in San Diego and raised $1.5M from Haystack.
  2. Parity (paritytech/substrate, 3K stars, 135% AGR). A blockchain infrastructure developer, mostly known for its involvement in Polkadot blockchain. Founded in 2015 in London and raised $5.8M from Fenbushi Capital, Blockchain Capital, etc. (Polkadot has separated large funding).

Are you a founder of an open-source startup or a VC investor willing to collaborate on OSS investments? Don’t hesitate to email me:

Special thanks to all people who reviewed the draft of this article, provided meaningful comments to the previous one and reported bugs, including Andrew Alexeev (Co-founder @ Nginx), Joseph Jacks (Partner @ OSS Capital), Matvey Kukuy (CEO & Founder @ Amixr), Alexander Vidiborskiy (Principal @ Atomico) and Hannes Lenke (CEO & Founder @ Checkly).

Runa Capital // Writings

Smart Money for Smart Startups

Runa Capital // Writings

Runa Capital is a global VC firm built by serial entrepreneurs investing in early stage tech companies and focusing on deep tech, cloud business applications, fintech, edutech and digital health.

Konstantin Vinogradov

Written by

Principal @ Runa Capital, focusing on investments in B2B SaaS, open source, machine learning and fintech. Forbes 30 Under 30 🚀

Runa Capital // Writings

Runa Capital is a global VC firm built by serial entrepreneurs investing in early stage tech companies and focusing on deep tech, cloud business applications, fintech, edutech and digital health.