I've been building startups for 18 years (started my first company when I was 19). Over the years I've become obsessed with small teams, so I enjoy collecting examples of small teams that use technology as leverage to achieve incredible things.

  1. The Macintosh was built by just 100 people, from software to hardware. It became Apple's main revenue driver for decades (until the launch of the iPod), generating tens of billions in sales.
  2. WhatsApp had 50 employees when they were acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. They had 450 million MAUs.
  3. Minecraft had 37 employees when they were acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion. They were doing $290 million in revenue and $125 million in profits.
  4. RenTech has 300 employees and their Medallion Fund generates $6 - 7 billion in annual profits on $10 billion of committed capital.
  5. XTX Markets has 200 employees and generated $1.1 billion in profits in 2023.
  6. Craigslist generates $800 million - $1 billion per year in revenue with 50 employees.
  7. Telegram has 900 million MAUs and 30 engineers.
  8. Instagram had 13 employees when they were acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. They had 30 million MAUs.
  9. Midjourney generates $200 million in revenue with 70 employees as of 2024.
  10. 37signals has 100k customers and generates "tens of millions in profits per year" with 75 employees, according to Jason Fried.
  11. Ghost has 35 employees and generates $6M in ARR as of 2024.
  12. BuiltWith has a single employee and generates $14 million / year in revenue.

If you know of any small teams that have had outsized success, drop me an email – would love to add them to the list.