Visualizing the Unicorn Landscape in 2019

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by visualcapitalist

Unicorn infographic

It was only six years ago that venture capitalist Aileen Lee coined the term “unicorn” to describe any privately-held startup worth $1 billion or more.

At the time, such valuations were so rare that they deserved a special name – but since then, it’s fair to say that the landscape has shifted dramatically. The startup boom intensified, and capital flowed into private companies at an unprecedented pace.

In recent times, unicorns have multiplied more like rabbits, and investors have propped up the combined value of the world’s 326 unicorns to the tune of $1.1 trillion.

Breaking down the World’s 326 Unicorns

Today’s chart uses data from the Unicorn Tracker created by CB Insights, and it breaks down the unicorn landscape by sector, valuation, and country.

Let’s start by looking at the biggest unicorns currently in existence:

Rank Company Valuation ($B) Country Sector
#1 Toutiao (ByteDance) $75 China Media
#2 Uber $72 United States On-Demand
#3 Didi Chuxing $56 China On-Demand
#4 WeWork $47 United States Other
#5 JUUL Labs $38 United States Other
#6 Airbnb $29 United States eCommerce
#7 Stripe $23 United States Fintech
#8 SpaceX $19 United States Other
#9 Epic Games $15 United States Other
#10 GrabTaxi $14 Singapore On-Demand

Note: data is current as of May 3, 2019

ByteDance is the world’s largest unicorn at a $75 billion valuation. The company owns Toutiao, a popular machine-learning enabled content platform in China that customizes feeds based on a user’s reading preferences. It also owns video sharing platform Tik Tok.

Experts are estimating that over 100 unicorns could IPO in 2019, including Uber and Airbnb from the above list.

So far this year, Lyft and Pinterest have already hit the public market – and another recent unicorn to IPO was conferencing platform Zoom Video, which has seen shares increase 120% in price since its impressive mid-April debut.

Unicorns by Sector

The two most common sectors for unicorns are Internet Software Services and E-commerce.

Sector # of Unicorns Valuation ($B)
Total 326 $1,086 billion
Internet Software Services 82 $153
e-commerce 44 $129
Fintech 32 $94
Healthcare 30 $76
On Demand 23 $200
Hardware 14 $56
Data analytics 12 $27
Social 11 $27
Autotech 11 $23
Media 8 $89
Travel Tech 7 $11
Cybersecurity 7 $15
Other 45 $186

Note: data is current as of March 2019

However, as you can see, the segment most valued by investors is On-Demand, which includes companies like Uber, Didi Chuxing, and DoorDash.

Unicorns by Geography

Nearly half of the world’s unicorns come from the U.S., but China also has an impressive roster of highly valued startups.

Country # of Unicorns %
Total 326
USA 156 47.9%
China 94 28.8%
UK 17 5.2%
India 13 4.0%
Germany 8 2.5%
South Korea 6 1.8%
Rest of World 32 9.8%

Note: data is current as of March 2019

Strangely, outside of the six major countries listed above, the rest of the world only combines for a measly 32 unicorns – less than 10% of the global total.

Unicorns by Valuation

Seven unicorns – including Uber, WeWork, Airbnb, and ByteDance – account for almost 30% of all of the value of the entire landscape.

Valuation Range # of Unicorns Value ($B) % of Value
 Total 326 $1,086
$20+ billion 7 $321 29.5%
$10-20 billion 13 $151 13.9%
$5-10 billion 26 $153 14.1%
$1-5 billion 280 $461 42.5%

Note: data is current as of March 2019

The bottom of the pyramid ($1-5 billion in valuation) holds 280 companies. Added together, they are worth $461 billion, which is equal to 42.5% of the unicorn total.

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