2021 already a record-smashing year for tech unicorns: GlobalData

5 Oct 2021

Image: © Евгений Вершинин/Stock.adobe.com

The analytics firm says tech unicorns are ‘no longer rare’ with more than 750 now in existence worldwide, including 35 valued at $10bn or more.

This year has already seen the rise of a record number of tech unicorns, according to a new report from analytics company GlobalData.

It said that 228 new tech unicorns, defined as privately owned companies valued at more than $1bn, emerged during the first two quarters of 2021. By contrast, there were just 105 new entries on the list throughout all of 2020 and 107 in 2019.

The report noted that the term was originally coined to reflect how unusual such high-value start-ups were, but that they are now “no longer rare”. It said that as of the end of August 2021, there were 826 unicorns worldwide, of which it classed 751 as tech-focused. The total value of these 751 companies comes to $2.4trn.

“The number of tech unicorns has increased over time. In 2013, there were only 39 start-ups that could achieve this benchmark valuation. However, the new and disruptive business models of these businesses have attracted more customers,” said Swati Verma, associate project manager for GlobalData’s thematic team.

“The pandemic caused a slowdown in unicorn creation in early 2020, but 2021 is the strongest year yet,” she added. “Tech unicorns aren’t just increasing in number, but we are also seeing an increasing number of high-value unicorns.”

GlobalData listed ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, as the most valuable tech unicorn worldwide at $140bn. Stripe, the fintech founded by Limerick brothers John and Patrick Collison, is second at $95bn. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is third at $74bn.

A further 32 tech unicorns came in at or above $10bn in value, a category sometimes called ‘decacorns’. This list includes Instacart, Revolut, Epic Games, Canva and Reddit.

As well as existing members of the illustrious club, GlobalData has recently published lists of companies it has determined to have “the potential to become unicorns”.

It identified 50 such start-ups in the area of robotics, including Sphero and Superpedestrian. It has also predicted 25 future unicorns in the IoT space.

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Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin