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The Fastest Startups to Hit $1 Billion Valuations

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For the founders coding in the trenches of Silicon Valley, achieving the status of a “unicorn” is still the Holy Grail. The term, which references the presumably rare and mythological uni-horned creature, is used to describe a tech startup that has hit a $1 billion valuation or more.

At the time the term was coined, unicorns were indeed rare. Aileen Lee’s data from 2003-2013 showed that just four unicorns were born a year, and that only 39 existed as of November 2013. However, while actual unicorns continue to be (very) difficult to find, the ones of the tech variety have been proliferating like bunnies.

By the count of VentureBeat, there are now 229 of them with a cumulative $1.3 trillion valuation.

The Unicorn Baby Boom

Fleximize recently created an interactive visualization that breaks down the fastest startups to reach a $1 billion valuation by geography, sector, year, and also the timeframe needed to reach the mark. We’ve pulled out the key visuals in this post, but we highly recommend viewing their interactive list which provides data on each company as well.

We’ll show the whole list of unicorns later in this article, but for now we will focus on the high level stuff: how many more unicorns are being born? Are startups achieving unicorn status faster than before?

Unicorn Births Per Year

Unicorns by year

The above chart shows unicorn births each year from 2005 until today. There’s two important things to consider here:

Time to Achieve Unicorn Status: Despite the current froth in the venture capital market, it appears that the amount of time it takes to become a unicorn has remained relatively consistent. The average is around six years to go from the founding of the company to a $1 billion+ valuation.

More Unicorn Births: While it takes the same amount of time to become a unicorn, tech culture has become much more mainstream. Today, millions of startups are launched each year and 90% of them fail. However, the ones that get past the gauntlet raise billions of dollars from VCs.

According to the above chart, there were 65 new unicorns in 2014, and an additional 91 in 2015.

Unicorns by Birthplace

Unicorns by geography

The majority of unicorns are still born in North America, which holds 61.4% of the population. However, Asia is rising fast with 58 unicorns (26.0%). It’s also worth noting that Asian unicorns spend a little less time in the womb, taking five years to be born. This is comparatively lower to the international average of six years.

Unicorns by Profession

Unicorns by industry

The unicorns that are born the fastest are ones focused on industries such as real estate, on-demand, social media, or e-commerce. These took four or less years on average.

Education tech and media companies took a long time to reach unicorn status – 16 years and 12 years respectively. That said, the dataset is quite small with only five companies in these categories combined.

The Fastest Startups (The Whole List)

Below is the full list of companies valued at $1 billion or more.

The absolute fastest startup?

It’s Jet.com, an online retailer said to possibly rival Amazon, that uses real-time pricing algorithms to give consumers better deals. It hit a $1 billion valuation in just four months in 2015.

All Unicorns: How long it took to get a $1 billion valuation

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Entrepreneurship

10 Proven Ways to Build Trust With Employees

Trust is the glue of modern organizations to ensure collaboration and healthy conflict. Here are proven ways to build trust with employees.

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Making progress towards ambitious and complex organizational objectives can be a tricky endeavor for even the most accomplished of teams.

But if there was ever a surefire recipe to make this undertaking more difficult, it’d be embarking on these kinds of goals with a team that doesn’t actually trust each other.

Not only does trust enable individuals to work outside of their silos and collaborate with other people on the team, but trust is also associated with improved communication, job satisfaction, and higher performance levels within organizations.

The Trust Imperative

Today’s infographic comes to us from The Business Backer, and it highlights 10 proven ways to build trust with employees in teams and organizations.

10 Proven Ways to Build Trust With Employees

Many of the complex challenges that dot the modern business landscape cannot be solved by a myriad of solo efforts.

Teams are necessary, and working together cannot take place only at a superficial level. To tackle the big problems, teams must have deep-rooted commitments to each other, creating potential for collaboration, healthy conflict, and differences of opinion.

Managers need to trust employees and vice versa, but different types of teams need to trust each other across other business functions as well.

10 Ways to Build Trust

It’s not possible to build trust with employees overnight, but there are some easy ways to kickstart the process.

  1. Show them the big picture
    Ensuring employees have a view of the big picture creates a space for communication and openness.
  2. Set clear expectations
    A lack of clarity of what to expect can lead to confusion, which erodes trust.
  3. Listen actively
    Asking open-ended questions like “How’s the project going?” builds trust and respect.
  4. Delegate low-risk projects
    A cycle of trust can be created, moving up to bigger and more important projects.
  5. Schedule weekly catch-up meetings
    Regular meetings create a trusting environment for people to give and receive feedback.
  6. Be honest
    Even when it is uncomfortable, being honest helps build trust and creates healthy conflict.
  7. Commit to your word
    Trust depends on integrity, and seemingly erratic behavior undermines this.
  8. Recognize excellent work
    This has the biggest effect on trust right after a goal has been met.
  9. Share a bit about yourself
    Oxytocin is released in the brain when we socialize and build trust.
  10. Let employees work on projects they enjoy
    This allows employees to focus on what they care about most, fostering trust.

Consequences of Inaction

It doesn’t matter how smart or experienced your team is.

Without the element of trust, they will not be able to work together in an effective fashion. For this reason, undertaking a mission to enable and build trust with employees is crucial for the success of any modern organization.

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Chart of the Week

Tech Founders Predict the Next Wave of Startup Growth

Which U.S. startups are best poised for growth and spin-off success? This chart shares insights from over 500 tech founders about the state of startups.

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Tech Founders Predict the Next Wave of Startup Growth

Today’s tech founders have unique insights into the evolving arena of innovation and are keenly aware of why some companies succeed more than others. Many have worked with multiple startups and have gone on to invest in successful tech unicorns.

This week’s chart comes from First Round’s State of Startups 2018 survey, in which 529 founders shared their predictions on the tech startups best poised for growth and spin-off success.

Tech Startup Valuations

Stripe, the payments startup darling, has already grown from $1.8 billion in valuation in 2013 to over $22 billion today. According to the tech founders surveyed, 19% see Stripe continuing on this path in the years to come.

Q: Which U.S.-based tech startup’s value will increase the most in the next 10 years?

RankStartup% of respondents
#1Stripe19.0%
#2SpaceX12.7%
#3Coinbase12.1%
#4Slack11.3%
#5Airbnb9.8%
#6Palantir6.8%
#7WeWork6.3%
#8Uber5.3%
#9Lyft4.7%
#10Pinterest1.6%
Other10.3%

It’s worth noting that this list includes some startups that have already IPO’d since the survey was released in December 2018.

In fact, in the first half of 2019, we’ve already seen Pinterest, Lyft, Uber, and Slack hit the market. Slack’s public offering was the most notable, as they chose to go the direct listing route. The share price still jumped 48.5% less than 24 hours after they went public.

The Next PayPal Mafia?

The PayPal Mafia is a legendary group of billionaire investor-entrepreneurs that have had far-reaching influence in the tech world since they parted ways with PayPal.

Not only did members of this group go on to start many major unicorns, including YouTube, SpaceX, LinkedIn, and Palantir, but some members have invested in over 100 startups each. This “giving back” has had a monumental impact on the Silicon Valley ecosystem, planting the seeds that would emerge as many of today’s star companies.

Q: Which U.S.-based company is most likely to spin out the next generation of notable founders over the next five years?

RankStartup% of respondents
#1Uber22.5%
#2Slack15.7%
#3Stripe15.2%
#4Airbnb13.9%
#5Coinbase10.6%
#6Palantir9.1%
#7SpaceX4.2%
#8Lyft1.8%
#9WeWork1.8%
#10Amazon1.1%
Other4.2%

Current tech founders predict that the companies listed in this survey will be perfect launching points for many of the world’s future tech founders.

Of all U.S.-based tech startups, Uber is predicted to be a top contender for producing the next generation of startup talent by 2023.

Other Survey Findings

Interestingly, over 60% of founders believe that the world is in a technology bubble, with evenly split reviews on whether it’s either nowhere close or very close to popping.

While 57% of founders believe the U.S. will continue to dominate the tech world, 39% predict China’s growth will become the world’s hub for tech innovation by 2028.

Only time will tell, as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to heat up, and the global recruitment of tech talent becomes increasingly competitive.

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