So far this year, 24 VC-backed startups have
attained that coveted $1 billion valuation and become "unicorns," joining a swelling list of about 200 other private companies. We’ve put together a chart highlighting 2017's unicorn class, with a few extra tidbits below, like geography trends, an industry breakdown and a spotlight on several investors that could see big paydays.
This year is on pace to match the number of unicorn births in 2016, when 49 companies hit a $1 billion valuation, including food delivery startup Deliveroo, online shopping platform OfferUp and software company Domo. It looks like 2017 won't be as prolific as 2015, when 89 companies were catapulted into unicorn territory.
2016's unicorns included companies headquartered in India, Indonesia, Japan, Israel and elsewhere—this year's group isn't as geographically diverse. Eight companies are based in China and 14 are headquartered in the US—nine of which reside in the Bay Area.
An array of industries and verticals, however, are represented in 2017's new unicorns. There's a startup working to commercialize space (Rocket Lab), a VR company (Improbable), and two bike-sharing platforms (Ofo and Mobike). When breaking down the new unicorn's most recent rounds, B2C and IT companies secured the largest chunk of capital at 49% and 46%, respectively, per the PitchBook Platform.
Last year, IT similarly—and not surprisingly—took home a lot of VC cash, but so did the financial services sector. In 2016, 26% of capital invested in the companies that became unicorns went to financial services startups—largely because of Jingdong Financial Group's $1 billion round.
Top venture investors and notable rounds
Sequoia and Matrix Partners are among the investors likely to cash out big if and when some of these unicorns exit. Sequoia, coupled with its China-focused venture arm, has invested in Mobike, Clover, Zoom, URWork, NIO and Toutiao. Matrix has funded Quora, ofo, Yuanfudao and QingCloud.
On average, it took a company about five and a half years to reach "unicornhood," but there were some outliers. Letgo, URWork, Mobike, Katerra and Essential were all founded in 2015 and are just toddlers.
Katerra has only had two VC rounds, albeit big ones, while letgo has had three rounds of at least $100 million each. Essential raised a reported $300 million round just months after it came out of stealth; Mobike started the year strong with a $300 million fundraise and has reportedly already raised another round—$600 million at a $3 billion valuation.
More notable is Toutiao's monstrous round. The Chinese provider of a news aggregation app raised a $1 billion investment led by Sequoia China and CCB International that generated an estimated valuation of $12 billion—a radical increase from the $500 million valuation it had prior to the fresh funds. Oh, and it was the
third largest VC deal so far this year.