Jul 26, 2019

A recent Coding Dojo report reveals the top languages, frameworks, and databases at the top 25 unicorn companies in the US

Coding Dojo analyzed data from Indeed.com, CB Insights, PitchBook, and Stackshare to learn more about technology stacks at the top 25 unicorn companies in the US. The unicorns analyzed by Coding Dojo have valuations that range from $4B to $47B and include companies such as WeWork, Airbnb, SpaceX, Stripe, Palantir, and Coinbase.

Both Kotlin and Go are surprisingly more popular among unicorns than within the general developer community. Kotlin is used at 8 of the 25 unicorns, but is only ranked 40th in the global TIOBE Index of most popular programming languages. Google added support for Kotlin on Android in 2017, likely driving its adoption at large technology companies. Go is used at 11 of the top 25 unicorns, despite being ranked 15th in the TIOBE Index. Go is often one of the most popular languages that developers say they would like to adopt in the future, according to the most recent State of the Developer Ecosystem Survey by JetBrains.

The top three languages at the top unicorns are less surprising: 20 companies use Python, 19 use Java, and 16 use JavaScript. What is surprising is the number of companies that do not use these popular languages. Despite JavaScript’s purported march toward world domination, 9 of the most valuable unicorns in the US do not significantly use JavaScript. Even Python, the harbinger of accessible modern machine learning tools, is not used by 5 of the top companies.

Some things in software development change more quickly than others. ReactJS, a frontend framework that has risen to popularity in just a few short years, is now used at 24% of the top unicorns. Database technologies tend to be dominated by more mature stalwarts: MySQL and Redis, both more than a decade old, are the most popular database technologies, both used at 23% of the top unicorns.

For developers learning to code, the analysis provides a rough guide of what languages and technologies might be worthwhile to study. Most unicorns used between three and six languages, so developers will likely need to be well-rounded. Backend engineers ought to know the most mature technologies, while frontend engineers may have to contend with a fluctuating ecosystem.

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