Q&A with Michael Babineau, Cofounder of Second Measure

by Y Combinator10/17/2018

We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.

Here’s a Q&A with Michael Babineau, Cofounder of Second Measure, one of the companies featured on the list.

What does Second Measure make/do?

Second Measure analyzes billions of credit card purchases to provide a daily view into public and private company performance. Our clients, some of the world’s largest investment firms and brands, use our product to answer their toughest strategic questions in real time. Our software is used to help discover new markets, gain an advantage in financial investments, predict competitive strategies, and more.

How many employees does Second Measure have?


How many founders?

2 — Michael Babineau and Lillian Chou

What is your most impressive recent product milestone?

Because we can see consumers’ spending across companies, a lot of the interesting analyses are focused on the differences between various consumer groups.

One feature we’ve launched recently is Company Affinity, a way to see where else customers of a given company are likely to shop and how that compares to the average consumer. This helps us learn — and quantify — just how much Equinox customers are into spin classes and juice.

It’s also a surprisingly hard problem to solve. The naive approach vastly over-states affinities for companies with small customer bases, so we had to develop a Bayesian approach. This pattern is surprisingly common — often the simple approach seems fine, but breaks down at some extreme. We have to take care to develop techniques that are robust enough to remain valid in a multitude of cases.

What’s an interesting element of Second Measure’s company culture?

We’re a startup for grownups.

Lillian and I come from games, and we know the toll those pizza-and-Red-Bull-fueled late nights take on employees. It was important to us to create an environment where people felt like they can grow not just professionally, but personally — have a life outside work, save for a house, raise a family.

This manifests itself in benefits like a 401k and generous paid parental leave, but also in our culture — everyone works regular hours, and we’re fiercely protective of folks’ personal time (why would you ever call your colleague on PTO?). First among our core values is “be human.”

I think this really resonates with people here. In the entire life of the company, we’ve never had an employee quit.

Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?

It’s pretty much what we started with, except now we work directly with consumer brands (e.g., Spotify, Barneys, Blue Apron) as well.


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