The Numbers Show Startups Can’t Get Enough Of Calling Themselves The “Uber” For This, The “Airbnb” Of That

If you’ve been hearing startup companies throw around phrases like, “We’re the Uber of [insert industry that is not ride-hailing]!” or “Our service functions just like the Airbnb of [another industry that is not renting out rooms to strangers]!” you’re not alone. A recent analysis of language used by startups to describe their businesses show that a lot of them are hitching their apple carts to those brands’ rising stars.

MarketWatch sorted through 477,358 company entries on AngelList, which is a platform with startup profiles and investing opportunities. Analysts looked at the companies’ descriptions or high-concept pitches, searching for specific uses of company comparisons.

The most popular belle at the startup ball is Airbnb, which was referenced 270 times, followed by Uber at 220 mentions and LinkedIn nudged out Facebook at 180 name drops.

Airbnb is used often to bring the idea of a sharing economy to mind, while Uber is the chosen company for indicating on-demand service. LinkedIn, in somewhat of a surprise, was the popular choice for social networking site comparisons.

“It is more powerful and much more needed today to spread the message of who you are and what you do,” said one investment expert, who says using the popular comparisons has become more prevalent for startups as new businesses try to capitalize on the success of known businesses.

On the other hand, investors could be experiencing brand overload after hearing these same names thrown out again and again, much like many consumers. And often, using a name everyone else is throwing out there to stand out can also lead to a company coming off as the opposite, instead of new and groundbreaking in its own right.

“It’s no longer quite so inspiring,” said a partner at another investment firm, especially when startups use the names to designate themselves as “preordained winners.”

We analyzed 477,358 startup pitches, and this is the shockingly unoriginal secret formula [MarketWatch]

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