Economic Growth

These Asian cities are breeding unicorns

The skyscrapers of the Central Business District rise behind the capital's embassy neighbourhood in Beijing, China, July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Silicon Valley in California leads the way internationally, but Beijing is hot on its heels. Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Emma Charlton
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Economic Growth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Economic Progress is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Economic Progress

Consider the unicorn, a mythical animal representing something highly desirable but difficult or impossible to find. The term is also used to describe the statistical rarity of a startup company valued at more than $1 billion.

In Asia, China is leading the way. Beijing has birthed 29 unicorns since 2012, according to data compiled by CB Insights. Shanghai follows, with 11, and then Indian cities New Delhi and Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore).

Image: CB Insights

In Beijing, one of the largest transactions was ecommerce giant JD.com, which was valued at about $26 billion in its 2014 initial public offering. DiDi, a ride-sharing and technology conglomerate that rivals Uber is another example, raising $15 billion on a valuation of $56 billion. And online consumer lending firm Qudian was valued at $7.9 billion.

Shanghai might be behind Beijing, but it still boasts some hefty transactions. Online food delivery service ELEME Inc. was sold for $9.5 billion and consumer finance marketplace PPDAI Group was valued at $3.9 billion.

While Silicon Valley in California still leads the way internationally, Beijing is hot on its heels. In the period that Beijing saw 29 unicorns, Silicon Valley had 57, but the Chinese cities are ramping up to compete as investors start to look beyond California.

Image: CB Insights

The proliferation of unicorns in Asia shows the region’s growing influence in the technology sector. This chart shows how company creation is increasing, with financing on the up:

Image: CB Insights

Chinese cities Shenzhen and Hangzhou, home of the Alibaba headquarters, are seen as Asia’s hubs with high potential for the future, according to CB Insights. Shenzhen, north of Hong Kong, produced five tech unicorns between 2014 and 2017.

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Economic GrowthFinancial and Monetary SystemsEquity, Diversity and Inclusion
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why we must act now to revive women’s leadership prospects in an AI-driven workplace

Sue Duke

June 12, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum