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On the Rise: 2019 Set a Record for New Female-Led Unicorns

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female-led unicorns

The Briefing

  • In 2019, just 9% of total VC investment dollars went to startups with at least one female founder
  • While there’s still a long way to go to narrow the gender gap in VC funding, progress is being made—last year, 21 female-led businesses achieved unicorn status, compared to just 4 in 2013

On the Rise: 2019 Set a Record for New Female-Led Unicorns

In 2019, more female-led start-ups achieved unicorn status than ever before.

A unicorn is a privately held company that’s valued at $1 billion or more. Last year, 21 new female-led companies hit that valuation mark—a 40% increase compared to 2018.

Within the last decade, the number of female-led unicorns has grown steadily:

YearUnicorns with at least one female founder
20134
20148
20159
20165
20178
201815
201921

One of the startups to achieve unicorn status in 2019 was Away, a travel and lifestyle brand based in New York. After launching in 2016, Away made $12 million in sales in its first 12 months, and in 2019, the company closed $100 million in Series D funding.

Glossier, a direct-to-consumer beauty company, also made the new unicorn list in 2019. Like Away, the New York-based beauty brand raised $100 million in Series D funding—almost double the amount garnered in its $52 million Series C round.

There’s Still Work to Do

While it’s clear that the number of female-led unicorns is increasing, there’s still a wide gender gap in the venture capital and startup landscape.

In 2019, only 9% of VC investment dollars went to companies with at least one female founder. And this proportion of dollars to female/male co-founded companies hasn’t changed much over the years:

YearProportion
20138%
20148%
20159%
20168%
201710%
20189%
20199%

Why does this gap persist? One reason could be the lack of female representation in venture capital leadership. As of 2019, less than 10% of decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms are women.

In short—things are looking up, but there’s still a ton of progress to be made.

»Interested in learning more about female founders and the VC landscape? Read our full article on The Top Female Founder in Each Country

Where does this data come from?

Source: Crunchbase report, titled “Funding to the Female Founders”.
Notes: The analysis was based on announced funding to companies with founders associated. Crunchbase included private company fundings from seed through latestage venture; excluding private equity rounds.

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Datastream

Which Industry Boasts the Most Billionaire Wealth?

After the coronavirus-related market crash in early 2020, billionaires across every sector saw a double-digit increase in wealth.

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The Briefing

  • In every single sector, billionaire wealth saw positive growth from 2019 to 2020
  • Billionaire wealth in technology reached $566 billion after growing 41%, while healthcare reached $548 billion, growing 36%

It’s a Billionaires World

During the pandemic, billionaire wealth has shot up an average of 27% across various industries. Concurrently, the middle and working class have struggled, U.S. unemployment reached record highs, and millions of Americans are worried about facing eviction or foreclosure in the near future.

Tech and Healthcare Pull Ahead of the Pack

The industries that historically promote wealth creation for billionaires have undergone a number of changes in recent times.

Technology and healthcare have surged ahead of the pack, as companies in these industries possess qualities that have made innovation a huge value and growth driver. Innovative factors include AI, big data analytics, and a digital and cloud footprint.

IndustryWealth Per Industry ($ Billions)Growth Rates between April-July 2020
Technology$565.741.1%
Health industries$548.036.3%
Industrials$376.944.4%
Real estate$342.512.9%
Consumer & retail$300.126%
Other/diversified$268.120.7%
Financial services$229.112.8%
Materials$206.129.6%
Entertainment & media$204.120.7%

The pandemic enabled those well equipped to pivot towards the new environment and business landscape, while those without these advancements were forced to haphazardly adjust.

As a result, billionaires in these two industries have reaped great rewards. Between April-July 2020 they generated $164.8 billion and $145.7 billion in wealth between technology and healthcare respectively.

Playing Catchup

The graphic shows the two leading industries building a considerable spread between them and those lagging behind. As these innovative technologies take the mainstream, it may suggest the other industries will have the chance to catch up.

In real estate for instance, the wave of innovation is least prevalent according to the original report, yet disruption and innovation are already on their way. Consider two stocks in Zillow and Redfin: the first operates in residential real estate services exclusively through web and mobile, while the latter is a digital real estate brokerage that has the potential to undercut real estate agents.

Could these industry wealth results in a post-pandemic world look very different?

Where does this data come from?

Source: PWC Billionaires Report.
Notes: This data was released in the summer of 2020

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Tesla Bears: A Short Short Story

Tesla has gained infamy for the sheer depth of short seller activity on its stock. After years of 20% of shares short, the 2020 rally has led to capitulation for Tesla bears.

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The Briefing

  • Tesla, Inc has gained infamy for the sheer depth of short seller activity on its stock. At its peak in 2019, over 200 million shares were short
  • However, short sellers have recently capitulated, thanks to Tesla’s monster year
  • TSLA shares are up roughly 600% YTD

Tesla Bears: A Short Short Story

Short selling is often said to be the Wild West of financial markets. Where there’s a short seller, there can be whipsawing asset prices just around the corner. Tesla is no exception.

In some cases billions of dollars pour behind these short ideas—conducted by some of the world’s most sophisticated investors.

The efficient market hypothesis suggests short selling is a necessary evil that helps the market reflect on all the information of a given security and obtain its true market value. Yet most market participants are anything but receptive to short sellers.

The market—which tends to be long, often panics when a short seller enters the arena and takes the opposite stance. What typically follows is an avalanche of legal and regulatory action from corporate lawyers to the SEC.

In the case of Tesla, short sellers couldn’t have gotten it more wrong – at least for now. Some market commentators call it the most unprofitable short witnessed. The data shows that approximately 20% of Tesla shares have been held short since 2016. This year a reported $27 billion has been lost betting against Tesla.

DateShares Sold ShortDollar Volume Sold Short
October 30th, 202047,800,000$19 billion
October 15th, 202052,960,000$22 billion
September 30th, 202057,130,000$25 billion
September 15th, 202059,040,000$24 billion
August 31st, 202054,890,000$20 billion
August 14th, 202012,310,000$5 billion

Tesla’s short thesis is often anchored around a few compelling narratives. The first is that Tesla’s present day fundamentals are poor—a $530 billion company delivered 139,300 vehicles in Q3’20 and turned a $331 million profit. That’s after government subsidy programs.

The second, the electric vehicle market is expected to be competitive with many players, and short sellers make the point Tesla is currently priced as the sole-winner in this space.

We don’t know how the future EV market will transpire, but with Tesla shares up 600% year-to-date, and with the company set to join the S&P 500, some bears look to be calling it quits.

Where does this data come from?

Source:Ycharts
Notes: Financial data is as of December 2nd, 2020

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