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European Unicorns Raise Funding At Incredible Pace

Illustration of a unicorn/illustration of a map of Europe.

An unprecedented number of European companies—86 total—joined the Crunchbase Unicorn Board in 2021, per Crunchbase data. This is more than 5x the count of new unicorns in 2020 from Europe, and more than 3x the previous record in 2019, when there were 23 new unicorns. 

New European Unicorn Counts By Year 2012 to 2021

Amounts invested in European unicorn companies also grew, more than quadrupling year over year, with $49.6 billion invested across 185 funding rounds, up from $11.8 billion in 2020. 

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This amount represents 42 percent of total funding to European startups in 2021, invested across 120 unicorn-valued companies. 

Investment Into European Unicorns 2012 to 2021

Food delivery gain

The phenomenal pace of funding to many of these highly valued companies stands out. 

Berlin-based food delivery service Gorillas, founded in 2020, raised $1.3 billion across three fundings from Series A through C within a six-month timeframe in 2021. 

Also headquartered in Berlin and founded in 2020, Flink runs its own delivery-only stores. It raised seed through Series B funding within 12 months, totaling $1.1 billion. And delivery service Getir from Turkey, founded in 2015, raised Series B through Series D funding in 2021 within a mere six months, raising close to $1 billion across three fundings.   

Food delivery was not the only sector to see multiple rounds within a shorter time frame in 2021.  

Multiple rounds

Gaming, recruitment, e-learning, fintech and crypto raised multiple rounds in 2021. 

  • Paris-based football fantasy game Sorare raised Series A and B funding totaling $729 million;
  • Madrid-based gig staffing platform Jobandtalent raised Series C through E funding of $727 million;
  • Vienna-based virtual learning platform GoStudent, which  connects students and teachers, raised $668 million across Series B, C and D rounds in 2021;
  • Istanbul-based mobile puzzle game company Dream Games raised A, B and C rounds totaling $460 million;
  • Vienna-based crypto exchange BitPanda raised B and C rounds totaling $445 million; and
  • London-based buy now, pay later service Zilch raised Series B and C funding totaling $299 million. 

European Funding $400M And Above In 2021 In Unicorns

The bigger picture

While numbers are up significantly year over year for European startups joining the unicorn board, Europe still represented only 14 percent of the 595 new unicorns minted globally  last year

Of those unicorn companies created last year, 341 are U.S.-based—an almost 4x larger count than Europe. 

But Europe shows signs of catching up. The pace of new European unicorn creation in 2022 has already increased compared to 2021, with 13 new unicorns created. So far this year, France leads the count with Ankorstore, PayFit, Qonto and Spendesk joining its unicorn ranks.

Further reading

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The Crunchbase Unicorn Board includes private unicorn companies with post-money valuations of $1 billion or more and is based on Crunchbase data. New companies are added to the Crunchbase list as they reach the $1 billion valuation mark as part of a funding round. 

Please note that all funding values are given in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. Crunchbase converts foreign currencies to U.S. dollars at the prevailing spot rate from the date funding rounds, acquisitions, IPOs and other financial events are reported. Even if those events were added to Crunchbase long after the event was announced, foreign currency transactions are converted at the historic spot price.

Illustration: Dom Guzman


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