Zero to One Billion: Demystifying The Unicorn
September 17, 2016

Zero to One Billion: Demystifying The Unicorn

Since the Great Recession, the global private tech ecosystem has witnessed a remarkable paradigm shift. The advent, growth and proliferation of “unicorns” have led to a fundamental change in the way all stakeholders in the tech ecosystem inter-operate. While this unicorn phenomenon has been in the making for the past 6-7 years, ongoing private investing and fundraising trends seem to imply that it could be another decade for the unicorn gold dust to settle. And, another five years for all the stakeholders to fully realize lessons learned from this fundamental paradigm shift.

Our game plan at SharesPost Research is to continuously analyze the drivers and market conditions leading up to the creation & proliferation of unicorns, to debate for and against the “Unicorn Bubble”, and to review fundamental investment trends and issues at well-known unicorns. While doing so, we plan to analyze the current state of tech ecosystem and understand the motivations and biases of all stakeholders, including CEOs/Founders, employees, VCs, and non-traditional private investors. While we have no interest in joining the long list of crystal ball gazers, it is clear to us that an objective, analytical, and data-driven framework is likely to yield valuable insights and lead to spirited debates.

With this backdrop, in our first white paper, we provide a big picture snapshot of unicorns today. We analyzed trends in VC Investments & unicorn creation since 2009. Key takeaways from our analysis are as follows:

Globally 170 Paper Unicorns & Counting

Today, Fortune magazine tracks 174, CB Insights’ identifies 169, and TechCrunch has a list of 168 companies. Approximately 52% or 90 out of the 170-ish Paper Unicorns (i.e., companies closing financings implying a value of $1B or more) are U.S.-based tech companies. This compares to roughly 70 U.S.-based Real Unicorns “minted” since 2009. We use the term "Real Unicorn" to describe a VC-backed tech company with a liquidity event with at least a #1B valuation.

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CONFLICTS: This report is being published by SharesPost Research LLC, and distributed by SharesPost Financial Corporation, a member of FINRA/SIPC. SharesPost Research LLC, SharesPost Financial Corporation and SP Investments Management, LLC, an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, are wholly owned subsidiaries of SharesPost, Inc. SP Investments Management is the investment manager of the SharesPost 100 Fund, a registered investment company, and other funds.

Recipients who are not market professionals or clients of SharesPost Financial Corporation should seek the advice of their own personal financial advisors before making any investment decisions based on this report. None of the information contained in this report represents an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, any security, and no buy or sell recommendation should be implied, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or governmental jurisdiction in which said offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. This report does not constitute an offer to provide investment advice or service. Registered representatives of SharesPost Financial Corporation do not (1) advise any member on the merits or advisability of a particular investment or transaction, or (2) assist in the determination of fair value of any security or investment, or (3) provide legal, tax, or transactional advisory services.

Information regarding companies in the SharesPost 100 List available on the website has been collected from or generated from publicly available sources. The availability of company information does not indicate that such company has endorsed, supports, or otherwise participates with SharesPost. Company “thesis” is the opinion of SharesPost and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security of such company.

Investors should be aware that the SharesPost 100 Fund (the “Fund”) may or may not have an ownership interest in any of the issuers that are discussed in the report at any given point in time. Accordingly, investors should not rely on the content of this report when deciding whether to buy, hold, or sell interests in the Fund. Instead, investors are encouraged to do their own independent research. Before investing in the Fund, investors are cautioned to consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. For a prospectus with this and other information about the Fund, please visit www.sharespost100fund.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

ANALYST CERTIFICATION: The analyst(s) certifies that the views expressed in this report accurately reflect the personal views of such analyst(s) about any and all of the subject securities or issuers, and that no part of such analyst compensation was, is, or will be, directly or indirectly related to the specific views contained in this report.

Analyst compensation is based upon various factors, including the overall performance of SharesPost, Inc. and its subsidiaries, and the performance and productivity of such analyst, including feedback from clients of SharesPost Financial Corporation and other stakeholders in our ecosystem, the quality of such analyst’s research and the analyst’s contribution to the growth and development of our overall research effort. Analyst compensation is derived from all revenue sources of SharesPost, Inc., including brokerage sales.

DISCLAIMER: This report does not contain a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any issuer, industry, or security. The opinions expressed in this report reflect our judgment at this date and are subject to change. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources we consider to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of all such information.

Any securities offered are offered by SharesPost Financial Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC. SharesPost Financial Corporation and SP Investments Management are wholly owned subsidiaries of SharesPost, Inc. Certain affiliates of these entities may act as principals in such transactions.

Investing in private company securities is not suitable for all investors. An investment in private company securities is highly speculative and involves a high degree of risk. It should only be considered as a long-term investment. You must be prepared to withstand a total loss of your investment. Private company securities are also highly illiquid and there is no guarantee that a market will develop for such securities. Each investment also carries its own specific risks and you should complete your own independent due diligence regarding the investment, including obtaining additional information about the company, opinions, financial projections and legal or other investment advice.

Accordingly, investing in private company securities is appropriate only for those investors who can tolerate a high degree of risk and do not require a liquid investment.

SharesPost, the SharesPost logo, My SharesPost, SharesPost Index, SharesPost Investment Management, SharesPost 100 Fund, and SharesPost 100 List are all registered trademarks of SharesPost, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Copyright © SharesPost, Inc. 2019. All rights reserved.

Contact

For information on research and analysis

Rohit Kulkarni
Managing Director
Private Investment Research Group
(650) 300-5128
Email
PLEASE READ THESE IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICES AND DISCLOSURES

CONFLICTS: This report is being published by SharesPost Research LLC, and distributed by SharesPost Financial Corporation, a member of FINRA/SIPC. SharesPost Research LLC, SharesPost Financial Corporation and SP Investments Management, LLC, an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, are wholly owned subsidiaries of SharesPost, Inc. SP Investments Management is the investment manager of the SharesPost 100 Fund, a registered investment company, and other funds.

Recipients who are not market professionals or clients of SharesPost Financial Corporation should seek the advice of their own personal financial advisors before making any investment decisions based on this report. None of the information contained in this report represents an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, any security, and no buy or sell recommendation should be implied, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or governmental jurisdiction in which said offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. This report does not constitute an offer to provide investment advice or service. Registered representatives of SharesPost Financial Corporation do not (1) advise any member on the merits or advisability of a particular investment or transaction, or (2) assist in the determination of fair value of any security or investment, or (3) provide legal, tax, or transactional advisory services.

Information regarding companies in the SharesPost 100 List available on the website has been collected from or generated from publicly available sources. The availability of company information does not indicate that such company has endorsed, supports, or otherwise participates with SharesPost. Company “thesis” is the opinion of SharesPost and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security of such company.

Investors should be aware that the SharesPost 100 Fund (the “Fund”) may or may not have an ownership interest in any of the issuers that are discussed in the report at any given point in time. Accordingly, investors should not rely on the content of this report when deciding whether to buy, hold, or sell interests in the Fund. Instead, investors are encouraged to do their own independent research. Before investing in the Fund, investors are cautioned to consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. For a prospectus with this and other information about the Fund, please visit www.sharespost100fund.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

ANALYST CERTIFICATION: The analyst(s) certifies that the views expressed in this report accurately reflect the personal views of such analyst(s) about any and all of the subject securities or issuers, and that no part of such analyst compensation was, is, or will be, directly or indirectly related to the specific views contained in this report.

Analyst compensation is based upon various factors, including the overall performance of SharesPost, Inc. and its subsidiaries, and the performance and productivity of such analyst, including feedback from clients of SharesPost Financial Corporation and other stakeholders in our ecosystem, the quality of such analyst’s research and the analyst’s contribution to the growth and development of our overall research effort. Analyst compensation is derived from all revenue sources of SharesPost, Inc., including brokerage sales.

DISCLAIMER: This report does not contain a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any issuer, industry, or security. The opinions expressed in this report reflect our judgment at this date and are subject to change. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources we consider to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of all such information.

Any securities offered are offered by SharesPost Financial Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC. SharesPost Financial Corporation and SP Investments Management are wholly owned subsidiaries of SharesPost, Inc. Certain affiliates of these entities may act as principals in such transactions.

Investing in private company securities is not suitable for all investors. An investment in private company securities is highly speculative and involves a high degree of risk. It should only be considered as a long-term investment. You must be prepared to withstand a total loss of your investment. Private company securities are also highly illiquid and there is no guarantee that a market will develop for such securities. Each investment also carries its own specific risks and you should complete your own independent due diligence regarding the investment, including obtaining additional information about the company, opinions, financial projections and legal or other investment advice.

Accordingly, investing in private company securities is appropriate only for those investors who can tolerate a high degree of risk and do not require a liquid investment.

SharesPost, the SharesPost logo, My SharesPost, SharesPost Index, SharesPost Investment Management, SharesPost 100 Fund, and SharesPost 100 List are all registered trademarks of SharesPost, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Copyright © SharesPost, Inc. 2019. All rights reserved.