When Does a Company Stop being a Start-Up?

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Nick questioned this after reading how Buffalo NY has a higher startup than Seattle and I thought it was a great question. He questioned whether Facebook, Craigslist or even Skype are considered start-ups (as they mentioned these companies in that article as being startups).

In my opinion, Skype and Craigslist are no longer startups, they are market leaders in their category and have ironed out their business models. Thus, Facebook could fall into that as well, but I don’t think Facebook has ironed out their business model yet — or rather maybe they have, but it hasn’t exploded yet as I someday expect (with the entire web having a Google AdSense alternative that will be Facebook AdSense ads).

Is a startup still a company without a revenue model figured out [i.e. Youtube back in the day, despite being the market leader, I would have considered them a startup still — not sustainable on their own w/o outside financing], and I also question whether the amount of employees relative to what the company will likely be eventually, pulls them down to being considered a startup still.

In my opinion, Twitter is still a startup, despite being huge and a market leader. I don’t believe they have nailed down their business model, or grown their employees anywhere near the size that they will be someday.

What about Zynga? They have a business model, they have 1200 employees [just purchased office space to get to 2000 employees], and they have some games (products) that are their lifeline. The revenues they are pulling down could sustain them as a company.

Do you think Zynga is a startup still?