Entrepreneurship

57 startups that became unicorns in 2017

A Reddit mascot is shown at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California April 15, 2014. Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As, is going after more eyeballs, and advertising, by allowing members of its passionate community to post their own news more quickly and easily. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith  (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - GM1EA4G0IMO01

While 57 is still a large number, it's clear that the froth has died down from the unicorn bonanza that occurred in 2015. Image: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Jeff Desjardins
Founder and editor, Visual Capitalist
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Entrepreneurship

For a startup, reaching the coveted $1 billion unicorn valuation is an important milestone – but as we’ve found out in recent years, it’s not necessarily a guarantee of future success.

In 2017, there were 57 startups that crossed the unicorn threshold, and they range from well-known companies, such as Reddit or Quora, to rapid-risers like China’s Toutiao (now valued at $20 billion), which has seemingly come out of nowhere.

Image: Visual Capitalist

Investors have conviction that these companies will provide the platforms and products of the future, and they are placing big bets on them to deliver.

Will they live up to the hype, or will they ultimately end up in the unicorn graveyard?

UNICORN BIRTHS BY YEAR

With 57 new unicorns, this year ranks third overall in terms of births per year.

Image: Visual Capitalist

While 57 unicorns in 2017 is still a high number, it’s also clear that the froth has died down from the unicorn bonanza that occurred in 2015.

Venture capitalists have clearly dialed it down a notch, re-focusing on the selective quality of investments rather than the overall quantity of big bets.

NOTABLE UNICORNS IN 2017

Based on data from PitchBook, we’ve included the full list of unicorns in the chart today.

However, here are some that caught our eye:

Toutiao (China)
Valuation: $20 billion

Founded in 2012, Toutiao is the behemoth on this year’s new unicorn list. Based in Beijing, Toutiao is a news and information platform that focuses on recommendations using AI technology. The company pushes content to users based on previous user interactions as well as the detailed analysis of new content. The platform has 120 million active users and has also gone on a recent buying spree, acquiring names like Flipagram and Musical.ly.

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Coinbase (United States)
Valuation: $1.6 billion

The cryptocurrency sector is exploding with growth, and Coinbase has been along for the ride since 2012. The most important crypto platform in the U.S. has such a strong influence in the sector, that the “Coinbase Effect”is now a talking point for traders everywhere. Whenever Coinbase introduces a cryptocurrency to its base of 10 million users, the added visibility and liquidity can make the price go bananas. It’s happened with Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash so far, and now every move by Coinbase is closely tracked by crypto power users and influencers.

Alisports (China)
Valuation: $1.0 billion

Alibaba’s foray into sports isn’t going unnoticed. In conjunction with Sina Corp (a Chinese telecom) and Yunfeng Capital Co (venture capital), Alibaba hopes that Alisports will carve out a huge chunk of the RMB 5 Trillion Chinese sports market. It’s also worth noting that Alisports sees e-sports as having huge potential, and as a central piece of its platform.

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