Silicon Valley sees record 25 “unicorn” companies emerge in Q1
The pandemic apparently has not troubled the course of venture funding as a slew of private companies in the Bay Area have ballooned in value since January. In 2021’s first quarter, California’s Silicon Valley marked 25 private companies that topped $1 billion in valuation, meeting the de facto definition of a unicorn, per PitchBook Data. This year’s quick pace has in just three months surpassed 2020’s total of 46 unicorns over 12 months. The last three months also marked a quarterly record for worldwide VC investment. Global venture investments in the first quarter posted a 50 percent increase quarter over quarter and an enormous 94 percent increase year over year to reach around $125 billion. In addition to the investment spike, unicorn startups were created at a speedy pace in the first quarter, with an average of close to two new unicorns emerging globally per working day. Global unicorn companies raised $57.9 billion or close to half of all funding raised in the three-month period, in contrast to 2020, when unicorn firms raised just one-third of all venture capital. A year into the worldwide pandemic, the S&P 500 is also at an all-time high. Private firms have more avenues to go public, such as special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which took off last year. And after a year of pandemic-led growth for many technology startups, acquisition markets have become stronger than ever. The Bay Area has been extraordinarily blessed in the first quarter of 2021 with new unicorns. However, the phenomenon is not only limited to the Bay Area—there were 56 new unicorns founded in the U.S. in Q1 compared to 2020’s record total of 101. Globally there have been 86 new unicorns in the three-month period compared to 162 for all of 2020. So far, almost half of all new unicorns in the country this year are from the Bay Area, and the region accounts for 29% of all of the new ones created globally. The top 10 highest-valued venture-backed companies based in the U.S. in Q1: Zapier, which has a $5 billion valuation. The San Francisco-based startup, co-founded by Mike Knoop, Bryan Helmig and Wade Foster, took part in Y combinator’s Summer 2012 program. Since raising $1.4 million in an early-stage round in 2014, it had announced no other funding, and as a result its valuation flew under the radar until January, when a secondary sale of its stock by its founders to Sequoia Capital came at a unicorn level. The company’s service connects and automates applications, helping to sync the data between different applications. Hinge Health, which has a valuation of $3.3 billion. The 7-year-old San Francisco-based startup, co-founded by Daniel Perez, and Gabriel Mecklenburg, focuses on nonsurgical ways to treat chronic joint or back pain. Hinge became a unicorn when it raised $300 million in a deal led by Tiger Global Management, Bessemer Venture Partners and Coatue Management in January. Sila Nanotechnologies, which is tied for second position with Hinge Health, has a valuation of $3.3 billion. The 10-year-old Alameda-based startup, co-founded by Gleb Yushin, Gene Berdichevsky and Alex Jacobs, makes supercharged car batteries. Sila saw its valuation more than triple when it raised $590 million in a venture funding round led by Coatue Management in January. Weee! which has a valuation of $2.8 billion. The 6-year-old Fremont-based firm, founded by CEO Larry Liu, specializes in the delivery of Asian and Hispanic foods. Its unicorn valuation came in a $315 million funding round led by DST Global on March 16. 6sense, which has a valuation of $2.1 billion. The 9-year-old San Francisco-based startup, headed by CEO Jason Zintak, helps businesses track their customers’ online activities to boost sales. 6sense became a unicorn in a $125 million funding round led by D1 Capital Partners on March 30. Webflow, which has a valuation of $2 billion. The 9-year-old San Francisco-based company, co-founded by Sergie Magdalin, Vlad Magdalin and Bryant Chou, offers a service that allows customers to build web pages without using any code. It hit unicorn status in a $140 million debt-and-equity deal in January led by Silversmith Capital Partners, Accel and Meritech Capital Partners. Coalition, which has a valuation of $1.75 billion. The 4-year-old San Francisco-based startup, whose CEO is Joshua Motta, provides businesses with a cyberinsurance and cybersecurity platform. It became a unicorn on February 1, as part of a $175 million funding round led by Index Ventures. BetterUp, which has a valuation of $1.73 billion. The decade-old San Francisco company, headedcompany, headed by CEO Alexi Robichaux, offers online coaching sessions for customers that are designed to improve their employees’ performance. BetterUp accomplished unicorn status in February with a $146.75 million funding round led by Iconiq Capital. Workato, which has a valuation of $1.7 billion. The 8-year-old Mountain View startup, led by CEO Vijay Tella, uses machine learning to automate customers' workflows. Workato became a unicorn with a $110 million funding round led by Altimeter Capital Management on Jan. 12. Harness, which is tied for the 9th position with Workato, has a valuation of $1.7 billion. The 6-year-old San Francisco-based startup, headed by CEO Jyoti Bansal, offers a service designed to make it easier for developers to get their software updates to customers. Harness achieved unicorn status with an $85 million debt-and-equity deal led by Alkeon Capital Management in January.