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Unicorn Updates, Early March Edition

An illustration of a sad unicorn

Morning Markets: Let’s check in on the latest from the crowded and illiquid world of unicorns.

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Years ago, unicorns were rare. Just a handful of companies merited the moniker, making the term “unicorn” apt. There are few unicorns to be found in the wild, and there were about as many companies that met the original terms of the phrase. But in 2019 there are now hordes of unicorns in China, Silicon Valley, and around the world.

Let’s take a quick look and see what’s the latest from the cohort.

But first, a refresher, what is a unicorn? A unicorn is a growth-oriented company, often venture-backed and tech-focused, that reaches a $1 billion valuation while private. There are nuances. Private companies that crack the $10 billion mark are called, unoriginally, “decacorns.” Axios wants to call private shops that raise $1 billion “minotaurs,” and here at Crunchbase News we’ve broken down unicorn food into supergiant ($100 million and more) and hypergiant ($250 million and up) quantities for better scorekeeping.

All that make sense? Good. Here’s a taste of the latest from the stable:

  • Grab snags $1.46 billion from the Vision Fund. According to TechCrunch’s indefatigable Asia-based reporter Jon Russell, ride-hailing giant Grab, has raised nearly $1.5 billion from SoftBank’s Saudi-powered capital firehose. Per TechCrunch, Grab’s Series H is now worth $4.5 billion in total. That’s an odd number of dollars for any company to raise while private and places Grab among the best-funded private companies ever.
  • Uber not in criminal trouble in self-driving death. Uber, a unicorn-decacorn-minotaur which has raised various supergiant and hypergiant rounds is not in criminal trouble for the death of a human struck by one of its self-driving cars. The ride-hailing company filed to go public last year (privately, for now), and is expected to debut this year. The firm is also potentially shopping for Careem (our original story from last year is here), and there’s something fishy going on with Lime.
  • Chime raised $200 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. Crunchbase News covered this yesterday, but it’s worth noting here all the same. Chime, one of the neo-banks we’ve been tracking, is now a unicorn. The company has raised around half a billion dollars. That’s many dollars. And with 3 million accounts, investors are valuing the company at around $500 per account. Is that high? We’ll find out.
  • Finally, a “maybe-soon-i-corn” called Wefox Group raised $125 million in an outsized Series B. That’s huge Series B! Even better, according to TechCrunch, “the investment […] is the first tranche in the Series B round.” How much capital the insurance-tech company needs isn’t clear, but the answer is more. I don’t know if Wefox is a unicorn, but it seems likely that it’s close, and that this round could push it into the territory.

And that’s just the last 24 hours. I can’t imagine how crazy things are going to get when the year’s IPOs actually start happening. It’s going to be even busier. Thank heavens we hired new reporter Natasha Mascarenhas to help cover the lot.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

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