On the Heterogeneity of Startup Tech Stacks

Schulte-Althoff, Matthias, Kai Schewina, Gene Moo Lee, Daniel Fuerstenau. “On the Heterogeneity of Startup Tech Stacks”. Working Paper [HICSS version]

  • Presented in HICSS 2020 (Maui, HI)
  • Previous title: On the Heterogeneity of Digital Infrastructure in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Digital infrastructure is the backbone on which digital startups realize business opportunities, and the homogeneity or heterogeneity of the technological base can have significant downstream impacts on business risks, inflexibilities, and growth barriers. On the nexus of digital entrepreneurship and infrastructure studies, we suggest a conception of startup digital infrastructure as organized in tech stacks; tech stacks contain individual technological elements that are combined in a single startup, while the way this is done will be inspired by shared templates within the ecosystem. Given that there is limited understanding of the heterogeneity (or homogeneity) of startup tech stacks, we use public registry datasets from StackShare and Crunchbase to identify common tech stacks of startups. Through our analysis, we identify ten commonly used startup tech stacks, which we use to measure and analyze the heterogeneity of startup tech stacks and its antecedents. OLS regression analysis shows that a startup’s technologies’ interrelatedness, its age, and investor funding are associated with the heterogeneity of startup tech stacks. The overall analysis suggests that while startups may make individual choices regarding technology usage, there could be underlying commonalities and imprinting effects across startups, exposing them to common risks in terms of their digital infrastructures. This could pose important implications for startups, investors, and society at large