See Part 1 for an introduction to the new markets feature on AngelList. This part is all about the details.

Creating new markets

We encourage people to use the existing markets, but anyone can create a new market:

Admins organize the new markets

The admins regularly review new markets and delete, rename, alias, or merge them (we stole this straight from Quora). Only the admins have these powers and only the admins can set the parents and children of a market. For example, see Internet’s parents and children in the sidebar at

…and you can see the full Internet tree at

Trying to make it “just work”

I don’t think we could have made a list of 20 canonical markets and called it a day. Believe me, we tried—and it would have been a lot easier. Just check out the rich set of markets here—20 hand-picked markets wouldn’t do justice to the diverse interests of investors and startups.

It’s also the nature of venture capital to chase new markets, whether it’s a broad new market like Mobile or a specific one like Location Based Services. A static set of markets defeats the purpose.

So we let anyone create a new market and we use tricks to keep things from spinning out of control. I’ve already written about how admins organize the markets. Next, we hide markets with fewer than 10 followers:

Third, we use color to indicate that following a market also implicitly follows its children. For example, I just followed Mobile and all of it’s children turned green:

If I hover over one of Mobile’s children, I see a message like this:

So if you’re already following Mobile, you don’t need to follow Mobile Commerce. But the “Follow Anyway” link lets investors add Mobile Commerce to their profile, if they want to show startups that they’re specifically interested in Mobile Commerce.

The markets are technically not a tree

Even though I say that the markets are organized in a tree—like your desktop file system—that’s not technically true. They’re actually a directed acyclic graph (DAG). The main difference between a DAG and a tree is that a market can have multiple parents. It’s as if a file on your desktop could be in two folders at once.

For example, Games has two parents: Information Technology and Consumers. You can see the Games tree at

Structuring the markets as a DAG is Yet Another Idea I Stole from Quora™. It would have been impossibly difficult to implement markets with an actual tree—we would have had to put each market inside exactly one parent. Where would you put Games or Mobile Enterprise or Digital Media? Multiple parents ease the burden of organizing markets.

(Crazy people can learn more about different classification systems like DAGs, tags, and trees here).

The most accurate set of market names in the world?

Back in the day, when investors applied to AngelList, we had a text box that asked investors to list the markets they’re interested in, and the markets they’re not interested in. We extracted the initial set of market names from this text. Then we automatically made those investors follow and block those markets. Finally, we replaced the text-box with a nice autocomplete form:

I think we now have the most accurate set of venture capital market names in the world. First, the initial markets were self-reported by investors, so they came up with their own names for markets. Second, there was no autocomplete until very recently, so each investor named their markets independently, without looking at what other investors were doing.

In other words, investors voted for market names independently, without being influenced by how other investors were naming markets—and that’s a critical component of a wise crowd.

Topics AngelList

2 comments · Show

  • Dror

    Slick solution to a hard problem. I guess that the good news is that you don’t have too many people creating new markets to the point of overwhelming the admins.

    To test the concept, I tried to see where Facebook or Twitter would fit.
    Internet -> Consumer Internet, and then …?
    Why isn’t there a Social Networking category, no-one suggested it or it’s too broad a category by now?

  • Naval Ravikant

    Thank you Dror. Actually, we have a concept of “aliasing.” If you attempt to search on or add “Social Networking,” it will show as matching “Social Media” and auto-complete as that instead. This prevents tags from diverging over plurals, synonyms, etc. Aliasing means that we have to hand-fix most tags only once.