Castles in the Cloud was built to provide a visual guide to the extensive cloud ecosystem in order to better understand how startups can successfully compete and thrive against the established competition of AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure (aka the “Big 3”); the growing cadre of newly public cloud companies; and the ever-increasing number of cloud startup peers.

Compiling the ‘Big 3:’

Before building the interactive site, we compiled a comprehensive database of all relevant public and private companies in the space to assess the scope of the competitive landscape.

The project reflects the cloud ecosystem in 2019 and 2020. We will update this database annually at the close of each year. In Q1 2022, we will populate this data table with updates from 2021.

In the first half of 2020, we compiled a list of all cloud services offered by the Big 3. (The services offered by the Big 3 continues to expand, and so this database does not include new services launching in the 2H 2020 through present.) This information was gathered from Big 3 cloud company databases and their websites.

Because each vendor names or categorizes services differently, we then organized all the services across the Big 3 cloud companies into common markets and submarkets so we could compare “apples to apples” across all the clouds. Since certain services are applicable to several markets and submarkets, a number of them will appear across more than one combination of market and submarket.

Identifying Challengers

We then performed a search of all “challengers” — independent public and private cloud companies operating in the defined markets and submarkets. We compiled this data from Pitchbook and supplemented it with additional challengers (see details below). Given the broad definition of “cloud”, we filtered and tagged challengers by markets and submarkets as determined above.

To narrow the list from thousands of startups into the list of the ~800 you see in this data table, we defined “emerging startup” as relevant private companies, primarily in North America and Europe, valued over $500M, and also included select companies under $500M valuation.

Companies under the $500M valuation mark were added based on a few known factors, including (but not limited to) established traction with enterprise customers, strong open source traction, relevance in their respective market communities, and/or direct relationship with the Greylock network. We encourage founders to submit their own companies for consideration to be added to the list, which will increase the number of sub-$500M companies over time.

We defined “unicorn” as any public or private challenger company with a valuation of more than $1 Billion as reported by Pitchbook. All valuations are from publicly available information according to Pitchbook, so the data table may not reflect current valuations of some challengers if those companies did not announce a new round of funding before May 2020.

Finally, we tallied the VC money invested into the challenger companies in 2019 and 2020. Data on private company investments in the years 2019 and 2020 was derived from Pitchbook, and does not include any data from 2021. We filtered out invested dollars that were not representative of a venture round, but instead represented a company acquisition. For example, we excluded acquisitions of Suse in 2019 and Veam in 2020.

Bringing It All Together

Our intention is to make this a dynamic and collaborative project with the cloud startup community. We invite the community to help identify and submit successful challengers to the Big 3 and share how or why they are winning.

This project required dedication and focus from many of us at Greylock. The Castles in the Cloud team is Jerry Chen, Corinne Riley, Jason Risch, Pranava Adduri, Elisa Schreiber, Heather Mack, and Kaitlin Durkosh. Data visualizations were built by Interactive Labs, and web design was done by Katie Bush Design.