These 10 Tech Startups Attract Insane Interest On LinkedIn - Forbes

by George Anders

So which startups are attracting insane interest on LinkedIn this year? Here’s Raybould’s latest top-10 list, working from the bottom upward.Last year’s standouts — such as Arista, Box, Splunk, Square and Palantir – have grown rapidly, attracting valuations of at least $1 billion, and in some cases as much as $5 billion in their latest financing rounds. Another 2012 leader Nicera, which specialized in software-defined networking, was acquired byVMWare for $1.26 billion.
Each year, thousands of tech startups in Silicon Valley compete to be what author Michael Lewis famously dubbed “The New, New Thing.” Eventually an elite group of winners emerges,  ready to be crowned the next Googles, Facebooks or whatever. But in the early days of this battle for supremacy, is there any reliable way to tell which newcomers are gaining the most traction?
LinkedIn data-insight specialist James Raybould has come up with an ingenious answer. In a blog post this week, Raybould analyzes the ways that 287,000 LinkedIn members in Silicon Valley’s tech sector engage with various early-stage companies (defined as outfits with fewer than 500 employees on LinkedIn.) If everyone is clicking on these startups’ job ads, or choosing to follow such companies, that’s a strong signal such new enterprises have won respect — or awe — from their peers.
In essence, LinkedIn is calling on its users to deliver a crowd-sourcedreputation score for everyone in the startup sector. Raybould has already tried this once before, with an earlier version of the list that was published in May 2012. By and large, the startups with the best peer reputations in 2012 have gone on to do extremely well in intervening 14 months.

10. Nutanix, a San Jose, Calif., company that develops virtual computing platforms.
9. Pinterest, the San Francisco-based creator of wildly popular online pages where people can collect, share and organize items of personal interest.
8. Big Switch Networks, a Mountain View, Calif., company that’s rolling out software-defined networks.
7. Jawbone, the San Francisco-based maker of Bluetooth headsets and more. Where else can you get Noise Assassin gear, based on what the company calls “military-grade noise-eliminating technology”?
6. GoPro, the San Mateo, Calif., based maker of small, wearable cameras that have become must-have gear for outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts. FORBES profiled GoPro founder Nick Woodmanearlier this year.
5. Hortonworks, a Palo Alto, Calif., company that develops and distributes Apache Hadoop: open-source software that helps companies handle huge data sets across clusters of computers.
4. Nimble Storage, a San Jose data storage company that blends high-performance flash technology with cheaper disk drives.
3. Violin Memory, a Mountain View company that makes enterprise flash memory arrays.
2. Dropbox, the San Francisco champion of cloud-based storage, providing more than 100 million people with free or low-cost places to stash more gigabytes of digital memorabilia than anyone can count. This FORBES cover story explains Dropbox’s rapid rise .
1. Cloudera, based in Palo Alto: the self-proclaimed leader in Apache Hadoop.
What are these startups doing right? There’s no substitute for world-class products and smart strategic visions. But once those are in place, executives at these top-10 startups say it helps to get current employees to spread the word — and to build the company’s brand online. LinkedIn collected some of their pointers in this additional blog post.
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