Billion Dollar Babies

The Unicorn Startups of 2016

To date, the word Unicorn has only been used in reference to the rare mythical beast. Now the phrase has been coined to describe startups valued at more than $1 billion, a phenomenon thought of as equally rare. Or is it? At Expert Market, we've crunched the data to give a breakdown of what makes a modern Unicorn.

Somewhat surprisingly, most unicorns in our list were formed in 2009; just one year after the financial crisis hit the globe.

Fast-forward to the year 2016 and Unicorns are more common than ever before, and the main industry responsible for this billion dollar baby business boom is software.

Disappointingly, of the 183 Unicorns used in our data only 7 are founded and run by women. To put this into perspective, for every 26 Unicorns founded by a man, there is only 1 started by a female founder.

The female with the most valuable Unicorn is Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

Expert Market Unicorns Infographic

The 20 Most Valuable Unicorns

The table below details the top most valuable Unicorns in the world right now. Despite the controversy surrounding Uber, it has still managed to remain the most valuable Unicorn on the list. With a $16 billion dollar gap between 1st and 2nd place, it seems that there's no danger of Uber losing the top spot anytime soon.

Leading the way for female founders is Elizabeth Homes, founder of the widely publicized Theranos. As the only company with a female founder in the top 20, Theranos is ranked in 14th place. However, the next ranking Unicorn with a female founder is Houzz which currently sits at number 60, showing the huge gender gap in Unicorn founders.

UnicornValueSectorFoundedCEO
Uber$62BSoftware2009Travis Kalanick
Xiaomi$46BHardware2010Lei Jun
Airbnb$25BSoftware2008Brian Chesky
Palantir$20.5BSoftware2004Alex Karp
Snapchat$16BMedia2012Evan Spiegel
Didi Kuaidi$16BSoftware2012Wei Cheng
Dexter Chuanwei Lu
China Internet Plus$15BSoftware2003Wang Xing
Flipkart$15BRetail2007Sachin Bansal
SpaceX$12BAerospace2002Elon Musk
Pinterest$11BMedia2008Ben Silbermann
Dropbox$10BSoftware2007Drew Houston
WeWork$10BBusiness Services2010Adam Neumann
Lufax$10BFinancial services2011Gregory Gibb
Theranos$9BHealth2003Elizabeth Holmes
Spotify$8.5BMedia2006Daniel Ek
DJI$8BHardware2006Frank Wang
Zhong An$8BFinancial Services2013Hai Yin
Meituan$7BRetail2010Wang Xing
Square$6BFinancial Services2009Jack Dorsey
Intarcia Therapeutics$5BHealth1997Kurt Graves

NB: This list was accurate at time of publishing and does not reflect the legal issues being faced by Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes

Based on the data it seems that the most certain way to create a modern Unicorn is to opt for a Software startup. While the complete Unicorn list does contain a variety of industries to choose from, 70 out of 183 are all Software companies. So if you're an aspiring entrepreneurs with dreams of that lucrative $1 billion dollar valuation, a Software startup might not be a bad place to begin.

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