Their ranking system is as special as the magazine itself. “We define 'hot' as being talked about locally by people who matter,” they write. “It's about buzz, not valuation or market size.”

A flexible and outward-looking city

Amsterdam scored so highly in part because of its flexible and outward-looking nature, which means that the city “is gradually becoming an accelerator for the rest of the globe.” Wired spoke with Don Ritzen, the managing director of local accelerator Rockstart. ”Because we're small, we have to think global from day one,” he said. ”We have to go after Germany, the UK and the US in a very short time if we want to compete.” 

Finance and travel doing well

One of the local startups featured in the article is Adyen, an online payments company whose recent funding round in December 2014 raised $250 million, valuing the company at $1.5 billion. Since its 2006 launch, this Amsterdam-based “unicorn,” as such success stories are known in the startup world, has grown to handle more than 250 different payment methods from around the world.

Also making the list was Amsterdam’s TravelBird. Founded in 2010, the company already has 650 staff in 17 countries who offer six package deals per day, every day. They plan holidays based on local cultures and educated hunches, and use their size to negotiate discounts.

Amsterdam as the “Sharing City”

Other winning startups that Wired profiled include Peerby, a company that connects people who want to borrow things with people who want to lend things, via a location-based app. It was initially developed in 2009 as a messaging tool, until founder Daan Weddepohl realized that his company was actually more about sharing. Along these lines, the article also refers to Amsterdam's Sharing City, a pioneering initiative that helps to cement the city’s role as a global player in the sharing economy.