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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Lots of money is made in enterprise software, but it's hard to make it interesting, even for the folks investing in those companies. One investment firm, Wing.vc, has come up with a new twist: Rank the private companies in the space the way that a coaches' poll ranks college sports teams.

Why it matters: Though not always scintillating, enterprise technology, which serves large companies, organizations and institutions, brings in billions of dollars and accounts for some of the most successful IPOs.

  • "Some important tech companies that are really changing the way business is done fly under the radar," said Rajeev Chand, a former Rutberg analyst and Wing's research partner.

Yes, but: As with sports, not all players are equal. Some of the firms in the rankings are new startups while others are large companies on the verge of going public. So Wing divided them into early-, middle- and late-stage companies and listed the top 10 in each.

  • They started with more than 3,000 startups and winnowed the list to around 775, before polling about 6 dozen of the top investors in the space.
  • Each investor got to vote for 10 companies in each stage, but they were limited to 3 of their own portfolio companies to eliminate too much rooting for the home team.

Results:

This graphic shows the full top 10 in each category:

Wing.vc

Key trends:

  • Of the 30 companies, at least 7 have received fairly little mainstream press attention: Retool, GatsbyJS, Clearbit, Sketch, Tray.io, LaunchDarkly and Pachyderm.
  • 7 of the 30 top companies were in data and analytics, including the top 4 late-stage companies.
  • 3 companies got acquired or went public while the process was going on and were eliminated from consideration. (Slack and CrowdStrike went public, while Looker was acquired by Google.)

The bottom line: Getting onto this list won't magically make any of these companies more interesting. But any project that helps put more of them on our radar — before they file to go public or get acquired — is doing some good. 

Go deeper

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

Who in Congress is talking about Ukraine the most

Data: Quorum; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Mentions of Ukraine or Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in congressional statements and social media posts have been on the rise — with nearly 1,000 already this month, according to data from Quorum.

Why it matters: The growing threat of a Russian invasion has been mirrored by a growth in Ukraine-related chatter.

GOP to use Supreme Court fight to target vulnerable Dems

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Conservatives know they're unlikely to stop President Biden from filling a Supreme Court vacancy, but they plan to target Senate Democrats who face competitive re-election fights and are all but certain to vote for the successor to Justice Stephen Breyer.

Between the lines: The general strategy will be to tie those Democrats to positions seen as political liabilities in states like Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire, where incumbents are seeking re-election this year, an operative briefed on early strategy talks told Axios.