Take a look at the infographic featuring the list of unicorn companies. One thing worth noting is that all these unicorns are high on tech. Even if you see the startups from the non-tech sectors, you will notice that technology plays a role in their businesses. From internet company ByteDance to logistics company J&T Express to an email marketing platform Klaviyo — all these companies use modern technology to provide value to their customers.
From Google to Amazon to Facebook to Airbnb, these companies brought solutions that consumers never knew they needed. Remember how some 20 years back, people had to visit a library and dig several books to access the information. There were huge Encyclopedia books on the shelves, and it was such a task to find any information. Then a Silicon Valley startup called Google emerged in 1998 and enabled us to access everything hustle-free with just a click. Google completely changed the narrative, and so do most unicorn companies through their innovative solutions. Therefore, it is safe to say that in whichever industry a unicorn company operates, it usually changes the business landscape of that industry.
So, here in this article, we are exploring the list of most valuable unicorn companies (top 50) as of 31 December 2021, by CB Insights.
Everything about unicorn companies
You must be aware of Facebook, right! If not, you may be living under a rock with access to no internet. This Silicon Valley startup was once a unicorn. Then it entered the super-unicorn league before finally deciding to go public. Similarly, many known companies like Uber, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest were once unicorn companies too.
What is a Unicorn company?
The unicorn is a methodological character, a horse or a goat (perhaps!) that has a single horn — some people say it has a rainbow-colored horn. No one has ever seen it except for the stuff toy version.
Then what’s the connection between this hypothetical creature and startup business?
Aileen Lee, a venture capitalist, was the one first who coined the name “unicorn startup” in her article. She used this term for the private startups with a valuation at or over $ 1billion, still a relevant definition of unicorn companies. According to Ms. Lee, finding a startup that has hit a $1 billion valuation is as rare as seeing a rainbow-horned unicorn.
At times of Lee article’s publication, there were only 39 unicorns. Fast forward to 2022, now unicorn companies are everywhere, flourishing in every country while revolutionizing their related industries. According to CB Insights, there are more than 900 private companies with valuation more than $1 billion.
Moreover, other variants of unicorns also have surfaced as some unicorn companies became so successful that they had to introduce variants. These are decacorn with a valuation of more than $10 billion and hectocorn with more than $100 billion valuations.
A unicorn company is a privately held company, once it goes public, it gets eliminated from the list of unicorn companies. Besides, venture capitalist firms are the major investors in these startups that see their growth potential and invest heavily.
In the past, the USA was the hub for most unicorns now unicorns are everywhere. After the USA, China dominates with more than 300 unicorns, then India.
Becoming a unicorn is not as easy as pie, as it takes constant drive and dedication to bring revolutionary solutions to meet the need of customers. Every unicorn is unique and has a profound story that has shaped it. One thing is true, in whichever sector a unicorn company works, they have revolutionized it.
List of Unicorn companies
China-based ByteDance is the most valuable unicorn company in the list with a valuation of $140 billion. The company is known for its famous video-sharing social media apps — Tiktok and Douyin. Upon its launch, Tiktok became an instant hit, especially among GenZ — while for millennials like me, Tiktok is a guilty pleasure. Tiktok has revolutionized social media by providing short and fun content that portrays the narrative in a few seconds.
Similarly, the second on the list of unicorn companies is an aerospace company with $100.3 billion valuation, founded by the world’s most illustrious and Twitter King — Elon Musk, called SpaceX. SpaceX has transfigured space technology through its spacecraft and rockets. The company not only manufactures rockets and spacecraft but also launches them into the skies.
The third on the list is a financial services and software company from Ireland, Stripe. The company builds software that enables e-commerce businesses to process online payments. As we all know, during the pandemic, the businesses of many e-commerce companies have flourished, and so the valuation of Strip also surged to $95 billion.
Klarna, a financial technology company, is fourth on the list of unicorn companies with a valuation of $45.6 billion. This is one of the biggest Fintech with roots in Stockholm, Sweden. The company allows customers to buy now and pay later by providing them short-term, point-of-sale loans for online and in-store purchases.
Similarly, Epic Games and Canva with valuations of $42 billion and $40 billion, take their respective spots on the list. Epic Games as the name suggests, is a video games company that also develops software. Likewise, Canva is an Australian graphic designing platform co-founded by female Entrepreneur Melanie Perkins.
Unicorn companies by industry
Fintech and the Internet software & services sector dominate with the highest number of unicorns among the top 50 unicorns.
Fintech accounts for 22% of all the private companies on the top 50 spots. As already discussed, Stripe is the most valuable fintech unicorn with the highest valuation. Other Fintech like Klarna and Revolut are most valuable startup on the list of unicorn companies. Besides, cryptocurrency exchange FTX stands tall among the top 50 private companies with a $25 billion valuation.
Internet software and services also represent 22% of all unicorns on top spots. Canva is the most valuable unicorn in this sector. Similarly, cloud-based writing assistant Grammarly also lies among the top 50 unicorns with a valuation of $13 billion.
Other prominent sectors with equal representation of 3% are — Supply chain, logistics, & delivery, Hardware, and Consumer & Retail. The US-based grocery delivery and pickup service startup, Instacart is most valuable in the Supply chain, logistics, & delivery category. The drone manufacturer DJI Innovations tops the Hardware category, while the beverage company Yuanqi Senlin tops the Consumer & retail category.
Unicorn companies by location
The USA excels other countries with 56% of all the unicorns on top 50 spots. 28 out of 50 unicorns have their roots in the USA. SpaceX is the highest valued US-based company. Besides, every year the USA produces more unicorns than any other country. According to research, in 2021, 58% of the new unicorns emerged from the USA.
Similarly, China makes it to the second spot with 10 startups on the top 50 positions. ByteDance is the most valuable Chinese unicorn. This year China has witnessed a slow growth in unicorns due to various government regulations that negatively impacted the flow of financing to unicorns. UK has its 3 unicorns on top 50 positions and all 3 are Fintech.
India, Hong Kong and Germany have also emerged as a conducive environment for unicorn companies. Byju’s Indian education technology is the most valuable Indian unicorn with a valuation of $21 billion. While, FTX is most valuable unicorn from Hong Kong and Celonis from Germany.
Female founded/co-founded unicorns
In the list of unicorn companies, only one female entrepreneurial venture Canva made it to the top 50 unicorns. The good news is that according to sources, among all 900+ unicorn companies, an estimated 11.4 percent have a female founder or co-founder. Besides, some female-founded startups like Talkdesk and Nubank also crossed the $10 billion limit valuation and elevated to decacorn stature. So the future is bright for female-founded unicorns. Hopefully, one-day female unicorns will dominate the unicorn lists.
The year 2021 has been massive for private companies growth. The number of unicorns as of December 2021 was 960, with a combined valuation of 3.12 trillion (a little more than the market cap of Apple alone). We discussed the top 50 most valuable unicorns in the article. The top 50 unicorns have a combined valuation of $1.11 trillion, and the top 42 are decacorn with valuations at or more than $10 billion. ByteDance and SpaceX are the only ones with a valuation of more than $100 billion — are even rarer creatures, Hectocorn. The Fintech and the internet software and services sector produced most unicorns. Besides, once again, the USA provided the most conducive environment for unicorns development and growth, followed by China and then India, Hong Kong, and Germany.