News & Analysis

driven by the PitchBook Platform

Is it even cool to be a unicorn anymore?

Is it really so exclusive and prestigious to be a unicorn anymore? Increasingly less so, according to the data.

“A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? … A billion dollars.” — The Social Network, 2010

Four more unicorn rounds have been raised in the VC world this week, highlighted by Docker collecting a $1.07 billion valuation with its $95 million Series D (a valuation first reported here at PitchBook). The company was joined by Illumio, Planet Labs and reportedly Zomato, now all among the exclusive and prestigious club for those that have collected funding at VC valuations of at least $1 billion.

But is it really so exclusive and prestigious anymore? Increasingly less so, according to the data.

Back when the “unicorn” term came to prominence in late 2013, via Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee, there were just a few dozen companies that fit the billing. Since then, unicorn sightings have become commonplace, if unspectacular, hardly deserving the mythical imagery the name suggests.


Source: PitchBook

According to the PitchBook Platform, there have been 100+ completed, announced or rumored rounds for VC-backed companies at valuations of at least $1 billion since the start of 2014. That’s far more than were completed in the previous five years combined.

Early companies to gain unicorn status, such as SpaceX (2010) and Spotify (2011), have since become household names, though the recent industry-wide surge in valuations has made it harder to distinguish the elite. Perhaps the new threshold should be closer to a $10 billion valuation, which only a handful of companies reached last year (e.g. Uber, Snapchat) along with SpaceX earlier this year.

To explore our data on current unicorns and spot potential contenders, click here.

Join the more than 1.5 million industry professionals who get our daily newsletter!