Founders are often faced with the question of whether their startup could survive if big tech turned around and released a competing product or service. And, for those that are entering a market where big tech already resides, you may get worse: the dreaded comment of why you would bother to even try to compete in a market with household names and competition sitting on millions–or in the case of Google, over a trillion?
What you don’t hear a lot about is how startups can not only successfully compete–even if, say, Google turns around and enters the space with their own product or service, but startups can actually build off of big tech’s existing products and successfully gain market share and get ahead of Google within the space.
Last year, around billions in revenue was generated by these ten startups alone who are competing with Google and winning. Going to show that you don’t have to be first, and even if you’re not the last, you don’t have to be afraid to compete amongst unicorns, but in doing so, your startup could become a unicorn.
Here are 10 startups that are making millions (even billions) competing with Google:
Waze vs Google Maps
- Year founded: 2007
- Revenue (2020): $37.7 Million (sold to Google for $1.2 billion)
Waze, the GPS navigation software started in 2007, two years after Google launched Google Maps as what then seemed like a crazy idea to help give users real-time traffic insights based on feedback from others on the road. Now, Waze has over 110 million monthly active users, accounting for an estimated $37 million in annual revenue, compared to Google Maps’ user base at 154 million. However, in 2013 Google acquired Waze for $1.2 billion.
Mixpanel vs Google Analytics
- Year founded: 2009
- Revenue (2020): ~$100 million
Google Analytics came out in 2005, and following that in 2009, Mixpanel launched its own website analytics platform. Despite releasing a competing product with Google, Mixpanel has managed to become a successful company, with approximately $100 million in revenue generated in 2020, with nearly half coming from large, well-known companies such as Uber, Samsung, and BMW.
Skyscanner vs Google Flights
- Year founded: 2001
- Revenue (2020): $321 million
Google entered the travel industry with Google Flights in 2011, a decade after Skyscanner started in 2001. But just because Google decides to pursue a new market, it doesn’t mean that the existing companies will be devoured by the tech giant. Sometimes clout and billions of dollars aren’t enough to make businesses in a market crumble when Google arrives ready to compete. Instead, Skyscanner has remained strong with annual revenue of around $321 million.
Wix vs Google Sites
- Year founded: 2006
- Revenue (2020): $988.8 million
While Geocities was actually the first website builder, created back in 1994, site builders became popular in the 2000s with the release of platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. Google jumped on the site builder bandwagon over a decade later in 2018. And though you’d think Google would manage to create a superior content management system (CMS), given that its search engine is a fantastic site, Google Sites never quite took off. Now, Wix holds upwards of 40% of the site builder market share, and Google Sites remains at under 1%.
Vonage vs Google Voice
- Year founded: 2001
- Revenue (2020): $1.25 billion
Google entered the voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology services in 2009, years after Vonage came out in 2001. While Google Voice has become a top choice in the VoIP space, given that it’s largely a free service, with over 1.4 million users worldwide, Vonage is a top competitor with 1.1 million users, accounting for $1.25 billion in annual revenue. So while Google Voice has acquired a large number of users, Vonage still proves very successful.
Dropbox vs Google Drive
- Year founded: 2007
- Revenue (2020): $1.94 Billion
In the year following Google’s first platform as a service (PaaS) cloud storage, App Engine, Dropbox launched its own file storage platform. Google’s storage services have evolved since then into Google Drive (via G Suite and Google Workspace), which generated $2.6 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, Dropbox’s revenue landed at nearly $2 billion, showing that it’s quickly gaining on Google in terms of revenue and market share. And unlike Google Drive’s 34% market share which includes an internal storage of its own products (i.e., Google Docs), Dropbox holds about 21% of the market from external files.
Zoom vs Google Hangouts
- Year founded: 2011
- Revenue (2020): $2.65 billion
Two years after Zoom launched its video conferencing platform in 2011, Google released Google Hangouts, and later in 2017, it developed Google Meet–another video conferencing tool. Despite the tech giant’s efforts to compete, Zoom hit $2.65 billion in annual revenue last year and it currently holds nearly 50% of the total market share worldwide–compared to Google at less than half the market share of Zoom at 22%.
GoDaddy vs Google Domains
- Year founded: 1997
- Revenue (2020): $3.3 billion
Google Domains started in 2015 and while it has managed to take a slice of the market, it has yet to beat out the original domain name registrar, GoDaddy, which was founded in 1997. There are around 40 million domains registered with GoDaddy, whereas over at Google Domains, there are around 5.5 million domains registered. Google Domains now holds a 2% market share, whereas GoDaddy has 24% market share for its domain name registration services.
PayPal vs Google Pay
- Year founded: 2000
- Revenue (2020): $21.4 billion
Google’s first stab at P2P payment processing was with Google Wallet, released in 2011–over a decade after PayPal. Since then, Google acquired Android and with that, Android Pay, serving as the foundation to what has since become Google Pay. Meanwhile, PayPal purchased the P2P payments app, Venmo, in 2013 (just three years after its founders released it), which now has an annual revenue of $450 million. Although Google swooped in with its own version, it hasn’t come close to driving PayPal, Venmo, or the array of other P2P apps out of business.
Apple iOS vs Android
- Year founded: 1976
- Revenue (2020): $274 billion
Google acquired Apple iOS’s main competitor, Android in 2005 for $50 million. While it’s unclear how much Google has raked in following its purchase of the operating system, we do know that Apple iOS, and more specifically iPhones continue to dominate the mobile market. In fact, the iOS operating system holds the largest market share at 58%, with Android coming in at second with a 41% market share.
A Winning Strategy to Compete With Google
Notice that no matter how many products, services, and tools Google offers, what remains untouched is its search engine–the heart of the $1.4 trillion-dollar company itself. While others, such as Bing and Duckduckgo, have managed to enter the space, Google absolutely dominates it. Showing that while market and product expansion can increase your total revenue, staying focused on your core product (and true value) is how you manage to be the leader in a market.
Search aside, there’s still plenty of room for startups to compete with Google. In other words, Google may want a piece of your pie, but unless you’re looking to be the next best search engine, what Google is doing–or what it could do–shouldn’t serve as a deterrent for startups with great ideas and capable teams that can make their ideas come to life.
Startups that successfully compete with Google start with one product in the early days in order to gain traction and to be more competitive and therefore profitable. By being an expert in one thing, you can give your startup a leg up on competitors, like Google, and let you even get ahead. After all, Google has become a jack of all trades, and if your startup can be the master of something, you have the potential to successfully compete with Google–and giants like it.