The most valuable venture-backed companies have seen their worth soar in the past two years, as a boom in fintech and ecommerce helped drive valuations to previously unseen heights.

Stripe recently unseated Elon Musk's space company, SpaceX, to become the most valuable US venture-backed company with a valuation of $95 billion. The company's $600 million funding round also adds to its well-stocked cash reserves, a theme that held true for other large, well-capitalized private companies.

Instacart, Robinhood and Chime all took in heaps of capital throughout the pandemic months, as existing investors looked out for the health and growth of their larger portfolio companies. And that has led to higher and higher valuations not seen since the likes of Uber and Airbnb.
 

Fintech rush

The recent fintech boom has been behind some of the newer entrants on the list.

Online bank Chime joined last year, as it more than doubled its worth from a $6 billion valuation last March to $14.5 billion in September. In 2019, Chime was valued at just $1.3 billion. Cryptocurrency payments platform Ripple also hopped onto the 2020 list after it snagged a $10 billion valuation.

Capital investment in US fintech startups swelled to a record $20.5 billion last year, and several outsize late-stage deals led median and average valuations to shoot up, according to the Q4 2020 PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor. The record-setting pace of fundraising continued into 2021 as investors poured more into fintech startups.

Massive valuation step-ups and pandemic tailwinds

Instacart's valuation skyrocketed during the pandemic, eventually becoming the third most valuable venture-backed company in the US. In late 2018, the grocery delivery company was valued at nearly $7.9 billion. It went without a capital raise in 2019, but since last July, Instacart has raised $790 million and seen its valuation jump to $39 billion, five times its worth in 2018. It's now the most valuable venture-backed food delivery company in the world.

In a span of three mega-rounds since early 2019, data analytics company Databricks saw its valuation grow from $2.75 billion to $28 billion last month. Chat platform Discord's popularity surged during the pandemic, leading to a $7 billion valuation in December; the company was worth $2.05 billion in late 2018.

Some of the valuation information above is estimated.
Juul has been omitted from the 2019 list, and WeWork and Juul have been omitted from the 2020 and 2021 lists. PitchBook data is tracking their last private market valuations, which predate the primary backers significantly writing down the value of their stakes in each company.


Featured image by Malte Mueller/Getty Images

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