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Visualizing the Unicorn Landscape in 2019

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Unicorn infographic

Visualizing the Unicorn Landscape in 2019

It was only six years ago that venture capitalist Aileen Lee coined the term “unicorn” to describe any privately-held startup worth $1 billion or more.

At the time, such valuations were so rare that they deserved a special name – but since then, it’s fair to say that the landscape has shifted dramatically. The startup boom intensified, and capital flowed into private companies at an unprecedented pace.

In recent times, unicorns have multiplied more like rabbits, and investors have propped up the combined value of the world’s 326 unicorns to the tune of $1.1 trillion.

Breaking down the World’s 326 Unicorns

Today’s chart uses data from the Unicorn Tracker created by CB Insights, and it breaks down the unicorn landscape by sector, valuation, and country.

Let’s start by looking at the biggest unicorns currently in existence:

RankCompanyValuation ($B)CountrySector
#1Toutiao (ByteDance)$75ChinaMedia
#2Uber$72United StatesOn-Demand
#3Didi Chuxing$56ChinaOn-Demand
#4WeWork$47United StatesOther
#5JUUL Labs$38United StatesOther
#6Airbnb$29United StateseCommerce
#7Stripe$23United StatesFintech
#8SpaceX$19United StatesOther
#9Epic Games$15United StatesOther
#10GrabTaxi$14SingaporeOn-Demand
Note: data is current as of May 3, 2019

ByteDance is the world’s largest unicorn at a $75 billion valuation. The company owns Toutiao, a popular machine-learning enabled content platform in China that customizes feeds based on a user’s reading preferences. It also owns video sharing platform Tik Tok.

Experts are estimating that over 100 unicorns could IPO in 2019, including Uber and Airbnb from the above list.

So far this year, Lyft and Pinterest have already hit the public market – and another recent unicorn to IPO was conferencing platform Zoom Video, which has seen shares increase 120% in price since its impressive mid-April debut.

Unicorns by Sector

The two most common sectors for unicorns are Internet Software Services and E-commerce.

Sector# of UnicornsValuation ($B)
Total326$1,086 billion
Internet Software Services82$153
e-commerce44$129
Fintech32$94
Healthcare30$76
On Demand23$200
Hardware14$56
Data analytics12$27
Social11$27
Autotech11$23
Media8$89
Travel Tech7$11
Cybersecurity7$15
Other45$186
Note: data is current as of March 2019

However, as you can see, the segment most valued by investors is On-Demand, which includes companies like Uber, Didi Chuxing, and DoorDash.

Unicorns by Geography

Nearly half of the world’s unicorns come from the U.S., but China also has an impressive roster of highly valued startups.

Country# of Unicorns%
Total326
USA15647.9%
China9428.8%
UK175.2%
India134.0%
Germany82.5%
South Korea61.8%
Rest of World329.8%
Note: data is current as of March 2019

Strangely, outside of the six major countries listed above, the rest of the world only combines for a measly 32 unicorns – less than 10% of the global total.

Unicorns by Valuation

Seven unicorns – including Uber, WeWork, Airbnb, and ByteDance – account for almost 30% of all of the value of the entire landscape.

Valuation Range# of UnicornsValue ($B)% of Value
 Total326$1,086
$20+ billion7$32129.5%
$10-20 billion13$15113.9%
$5-10 billion26$15314.1%
$1-5 billion280$46142.5%
Note: data is current as of March 2019

The bottom of the pyramid ($1-5 billion in valuation) holds 280 companies. Added together, they are worth $461 billion, which is equal to 42.5% of the unicorn total.

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Chart of the Week

A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap (1999-Today)

See how the world’s largest companies have changed over time, and how this helps tell a broader story about what the market is thinking.

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A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap

The macro narrative that underlies the market is constantly under revision.

While this is partially a function of shifts in investor sentiment, it’s also driven by game-changing events as well as much more structural market forces.

For example, how does the macro narrative change after a commodity price crash? What about when the unprecedented scale of technology is truly understood by the market?

An Evolving Narrative

In this week’s chart, we look at how the big picture narrative has changed over time by using a very simple approach.

We have visualized the market capitalizations of the 10 largest public companies in the world over five-year intervals from 1999 until today, and it gives us a series of snapshots of what the market was “thinking” during these specific periods.

Not only is it evident as certain industries rise to prominence, but there are also some interesting individual stories to follow. We can see iconic companies – such as Apple – ascend into the public consciousness, while others fall off the radar completely.

YearDescriptionTop CompanyWho Dominates Top 10?
1999Dotcom BubbleMicrosoft ($583B)Five tech companies in the mix
2004Post-BubbleGE ($319B)Diverse mix of companies by industry
2009Financial CrisisPetroChina ($367B)Six non-U.S. companies make list
2014$100 OilApple ($560B)Last year for oil companies, tech starts ascending
2019Big Tech EraMicrosoft ($1,050B)Seven companies are tech

The composition of the top 10 changes in each of the snapshots above, and this simple approach helps capture the market narrative for each timeframe.

During the Dotcom Bubble, you can see that half of the list was dominated by tech companies. This was short-lived, and the years 2004, 2009, and 2014 have much more diverse lists.

You can also see the impact of the financial crisis on U.S. company valuations. In 2009, there is an equal distribution of Chinese and American companies. Royal Dutch Shell (UK/Netherlands) and Petrobras (Brazil) help round out the top 10.

Finally, over the last five years, you can see the impact of lower oil prices and the growing scale of tech. Back in 2014, Exxon Mobil was the second largest company in the world by a solid margin, but today it’s been displaced by companies like Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, and Alibaba.

The Big Tech Era

Here is the current top 10 list of the world’s largest companies by market cap:

RankCompanyIndustryMarket Cap
#1🇺🇸 MicrosoftTech$1,050 billion
#2🇺🇸 AmazonTech$943 billion
#3🇺🇸 AppleTech$920 billion
#4🇺🇸 AlphabetTech$778 billion
#5🇺🇸 FacebookTech$546 billion
#6🇺🇸 Berkshire HathawayDiversified$507 billion
#7🇨🇳 AlibabaTech$435 billion
#8🇨🇳 TencentTech$431 billion
#9🇺🇸 VisaFinancial$379 billion
#10🇺🇸 Johnson & JohnsonConsumer Goods$376 billion

In total, the five biggest tech giants brought in a combined $801.5 billion in revenue last year, and $139 billion in net income.

The Staying Power of Microsoft

With a valuation today of just over $1 trillion, Microsoft is again the world’s largest company by market capitalization.

In this way, the above lists come full circle, since Microsoft was also the biggest company in 1999.

While the software giant experienced short periods where it did drop out of favor, Microsoft was the only company to make the list in our five snapshots above.

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The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Which innovations will dominate headlines in 2019? According to Bill Gates, watch for these 10 breakthrough technologies to change the world.

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The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Gone are the days of turning stones into spears. With the advent of new technologies, we’ve learned to develop tools that not only make living faster and easier every day, but also improve the future of humanity as a whole.

Today’s Chart of the Week draws from the MIT Technology Review, which features Bill Gates’ predictions for the top 10 breakthrough inventions that will capture headlines in 2019.

Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies

1. Gut Probe in a Pill
These swallowable devices can detect and potentially prevent diseases that cause malnutrition and stunted growth in millions of children worldwide.

2. Custom Cancer Vaccines
Personalized cancer vaccines, targeting only the cancerous cells and leave healthy cells alone, could help ensure faster recovery times and pose fewer risks to patients.

3. Meat-free Burgers
Plant-based and lab-grown food products will ideally alleviate the environmental impact of the livestock industry.

4. Smooth-talking AI assistants
The AI assistants of the future will have even more human-like conversations to personally engage customers. Companies would see measurable benefits, with just one breakthrough here garnering a 5% jump in productivity.

5. Sanitation without sewers
Improperly drained sewage causes death in one out of every nine children. Sanitation that doesn’t require sewers would not only prevent exposure diseases but also help turn waste into useful products like fertilizer.

6. ECG on your wrist
While most medical ECGS have up to 12 nodes to detect abnormalities, today’s wearables typically have only one. An ECG on the wrist would help reduce the risk of heart disease by monitoring changes and patterns in daily life.

7. Robot Dexterity
Advancements in robotics will enable the natural dexterity required to complete a greater range of tasks, such as helping an ailing loved one out of bed, doing the laundry, or building toys.

8. Predicting Preemies
Premature births are the leading cause of death for children under five years old. Tests to detect the possibility of a premature birth could be available in doctors’ offices in as little as five years.

9. Carbon Dioxide Catcher
Carbon dioxide catchers filter out CO₂ from the air and capture it for other uses. These include synthetic fuel creation, CO₂ for soft drinks, and plant growth in greenhouses.

10. New-wave Nuclear Power
Traditional nuclear reactors produce ~1,000 megawatts (MW), while these proposed mini-reactors would produce tens of megawatts ─ making them safer, more stable, and more financially viable for potential users.

A Vision for a Better Future

The biggest takeaway?

Seven of the 10 breakthrough technologies stem from the healthtech sector.

While several inventions on this list are years away from becoming a reality, they continue to embody the vision and passion that humans share to create and explore.

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