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.

PLEASE READ THESE IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICES & DISCLOSURES

This article 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 prudence 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.

Securities referenced in this article may be 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, involving a high degree of risk, and investors should 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 investors should conduct their own, independent due diligence regarding the investment, including obtaining additional information about the company, opinions, financial projections and legal or 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, the SharesPost Index, and SharesPost Investment Management are all registered trademarks of SharesPost, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Copyright SharesPost, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.

PLEASE READ THESE IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICES & DISCLOSURES

This article 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 prudence 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.

Securities referenced in this article may be 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, involving a high degree of risk, and investors should 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 investors should conduct their own, independent due diligence regarding the investment, including obtaining additional information about the company, opinions, financial projections and legal or 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, the SharesPost Index, and SharesPost Investment Management are all registered trademarks of SharesPost, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Copyright SharesPost, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.