That’s what new data analyzed by LinkedIn showed in its annual list of Top 50 U.S. startups, which for the first time in the list’s 3-year history included a cannabis company — dosist even snagged the No. 2 spot.
“This is definitely the first time in the United States that we've had a cannabis company on the list at all,” LinkedIn senior editor at large, Jessi Hempel, told Yahoo Finance. “When we found out this cannabis company was number two, we were surprised at first.”
As its name suggests, dosist designs “dosage” vape pens that administer precise amounts of THC. A vibration feature engages when users inhale a designated amount of the drug.
While dosist’s CEO Gunner Winston says he prefers it to be considered a wellness company, transcending the cannabis industry, cannabis is distinctly what makes dosist’s inclusion in LinkedIn’s hottest startups so indicative of shifting employment trends.
‘The most compelling thing we look at’
LinkedIn identifies top startups by setting criteria for companies under consideration, then examining actions taken by its 645 million members in relation to those companies.
To be considered a startup, a company must be independent and privately held, at least 7 years old, have a minimum of 50 employees in the U.S., and have hired at least 15% of its workforce between July 2018 and June 2019.
Actions that LinkedIn members take that are counted in the analysis, include total number of clicks on the startup’s LinkedIn company page, the number of non-employees who view the page, the number of non-employees who follow the startup’s page, the number of connections non-employees make with employees working for the startup, and the number of members who change their LinkedIn profile to reflect that they have left a previous position to take on a full-time position with the startup.
Following a company page, Hempel said, is “something a lot of people begin to do when they're interested in tracking it to someday work there.” Connecting with members of the startup company on LinkedIn is another big factor, she said. “And then, of course, the people who actually go to work at the company and change the profile to reflect that.”
Another piece of significant data weighed in LinkedIn’s analysis is the type of employees who jump ship to go to that company.
“The most compelling thing that we look at is who is actually going to these companies and whether it's top talent,” Hempel said. LinkedIn identifies top talent as employees who leave positions at companies on its Top Companies list of large established and publicly traded companies. “When we see people going from those companies to these startups, we think that that is a very strong sign that these startups are promising.” LinkedIn’s 2019 list includes Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Salesforce (CRM) and Deloitte.
Hiring and hiring at a quick pace also plays a central role in LinkedIn’s startup rankings, which benefited dosist. The company added a large number of its staff over the past year, and according to its LinkedIn profile, it currently has more than 200 employees and is hiring for more than 20 positions.
Asked why a cannabis company had not made the top 50 in past years, Hempel said it could be a reflection of differences in cannabis companies’ approach to hiring.
“There are jobs that just didn't exist before, certainly not in a formalized way — and so trying to hire for them, particularly if you need to hire from them at scale, is tough,” she said. “It could very well be that the types of jobs that dosist this we're filling, were more straightforward to sell. And so dosist was able to hire more quickly. That's one.”
Companies may not seek out inclusion on LinkedIn’s startup list.
“Because this is not something that they proactively would submit for, [it] really reflects the actual actions that job seekers are taking, which is why I think that it tends to be fairly accurate bellwether we're hiring is going,” Hempel said.
“What this list tells us is where people most want to be, they want to get to these companies, not how they feel when they're employed by these companies. What how they feel about company is sort of corporate approach, where they see opportunity in the future.”
Alexis Keenan is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.