TLDR

  • A unicorn, or unicorn startup/company, is a term used in the venture capital industry to describe a privately owned startup company with a valuation over $1 billion.
  • As of March 2021, there were over 500 unicorns.

A unicorn, or unicorn startup/company, is a term used in the venture capital industry to describe a privately owned startup company with a valuation over $1 billion.  

Not too dissimilar from the rare, mythical creature, unicorns in the startup world are hard to come by. The term was coined in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, founder of CowboyVC, a seed stage venture capital fund.

In 2013, there were 39 companies considered unicorns. As of March 2021, there were over 500.

Well known unicorns include Airbnb, Uber, SpaceX, Robinhood, Palantir Technologies, SoFi and WeWork.

N.B. Decacorn is used to describe companies valued over $10 billion, while Hectocorn is used for companies valued over $100 billion.

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