Editor’s Note: Today, Crunchbase News is launching The Crunchbase Unicorn Board, a curated list of unicorn startups, or the most valuable private companies in the world. Powered by Crunchbase’s comprehensive data, this board is continuously updated as companies reach unicorn status: A valuation of $1 billion or more as a private company. We hope this data and our analysis serve as resources for readers to track and understand the funding landscape around these highly valued companies.
There are now more than 1,200 current unicorn startups—private companies valued at $1 billion or more—in the world, per The Crunchbase Unicorn Board.
These unicorn companies have collectively raised more than $700 billion in funding over their lifetimes and reached a new milestone this year: Topping $4 trillion in value for the first time. That’s double the value of the world’s unicorns at the end of 2020, when the 650 private companies on the list were altogether valued at around $2 trillion.
There are 59 so-called decacorns—companies valued at $10 billion or more—within the group. Just a year ago, there were only around half that count, at 31 decacorns.
Three of these decacorns are valued above $100 billion and stand as the most valuable private companies in the world: Shanghai-based TikTok owner ByteDance, valued at $180 billion; payments platform Hangzhou-based Ant Group, at $150 billion; and Hawthorne, California-based space travel company SpaceX, at $100 billion.
A record year
An unprecedented 591 companies joined The Unicorn Board in 2021. Another 141 companies exited, either via acquisition or IPO. That marks a record year on both counts.
In 2020, new unicorns tallied 167, while 58 companies exited.
Investors in unicorns
A year ago, the most active investors in unicorn companies were the well-known Silicon Valley venture firm Sequoia Capital, New York-based growth investor Tiger Global Management and Silicon Valley-based Accel.
But since 2021, growth equity investors including Insight Partners and SoftBank Vision Fund have stepped in and spent heavily on high-growth companies. And Tiger Global now leads as the No. 1 unicorn investor by not only portfolio count, but also by led rounds and investments. It is also the most active investor in leading rounds with a valuation of a billion dollars or more.
First unicorn round
The first unicorn round recorded in Crunchbase was Yahoo’s $1 billion investment in Alibaba in 2005 that valued the Chinese internet and e-commerce giant at $2.5 billion. Yahoo gained 40 percent ownership via the deal. By the time of Alibaba’s IPO in September 2014, Yahoo still owned a 22.6 percent stake and SoftBank 34.4 percent. Alibaba raised $21.7 billion in its public offering at a market value of $231 billion—still the largest tech IPO ever.
Over time, 380 companies have exited from The Crunchbase Unicorn Board, with Meta—previously Facebook—the most highly valued of these exits. In the FAANG group—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google—it is worth noting that the only company that ever reached unicorn status as a private company was Facebook.
I hope you’ll find The Crunchbase Unicorn Board to be a useful resource in tracking the world’s most valuable companies. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or feedback on The Crunchbase Unicorn Board, or if you spot any data that’s missing or inaccurate.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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