There were 11 new entrants to the unicorn club in Q1

Steven Loeb · April 11, 2016 · Short URL:

The group saw the first African company join, while one new company from the U.S. made it

When late stage investors, most notably Fidelity, started to write down some of their unicorn companies at the end of last year, it looked like the jig was finally up and the era of the unicorn was coming to an end. While it is true that the number of companies gaining that status have decreased dramatically in the last two quarters, there are still plenty of them getting to that magic number.

In all, there were 11 new global companies that reached a valuation of at least $1 billion in the first quarter of 2016, according to data out from VB Profiles. They have a combined worth of over $21 billion.

That number is actually up over 22 percent from the nine companies from around the world that made in the fourth quarter of 2015, but it is still down significantly from the 23 companies that made it in both Q2 and Q3 of last year. 

Even with that low Q4 number, 2015 was a big year for unicorns overall, as there were 47 new ones in the U.S. alone, for a 38 percent increase over 2014. There were also 28 new unicorns outside of the U.S., a 100 percent increase over the 14 from the year before, for a total of 78. That equaled 1.5 new unicorns every single week for the year.

This year, though, it is very likely that the number will fall dramatically, mostly thanks to investors panicking over ballooning valuations, leading them to devalue some of their biggest investments, 

Fidelity, for example invested in Snapchat's $538 million round last May, which valued the company at $15 billion, a round that made Snapchat the fourth most valuable private company in the United States, behind Uber, Airbnb and Palantir. Then the firm decided to write down the value of its stake by 25 percent, dropping it from $13.9 billion to $10.4 billion.

The firm also cut the value of its shares in Zenefits by 48 percent, and marked down the value of its share in Dataminr by 35 percent.

The same thing happened to Dropbox last year, when of its investors, BlackRock, cut its estimate of the company’s per-share value by 24 percent.

The new unicorns

There are some interesting things to note in the list of companies that earned unicorn status last quarter.

First, there were two companies that became unicorns having literally raised no previous funding: Cainiao Logistics,  the logistics affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Limited, which raised $1.5 billion to be valued at $7.7 billion, and Africa Internet Group, the company behind e-commerce site Jumia, which raised $326 million to be valued at $1 billion.

VB Profiles also provided a Funding To Valuation index, which divides the company's worth by the amount of funding prior to their unicorn valuation. So in both of these cases, since there was no prior funding, they have a ratio of "infinity."

Africa Internet Group also happens to be the first company from Africa to become a unicorn. Even more interesting: one only of the 11 companies was based in the United States.

The other new unicorns were:

  • Garena, a Singapore-based company engaged in the gaming, internet, and mobile industries, which closed a $170 million series D funding round in March to be valued $3.75 billion.
  • SkyScanner, a Scotland-based flight-metasearch site, which picked up $192 million in January to be valued at $1.6 billion. 
  • Mindmaze, a Swedish multisensory computing platform, which raised $100 million in February to be valued at $1 billion.
  • Mercari, a Japanese startup behind a consumer-to-consumer marketplace app of the same name, raised $74 million in March to be valued at $1 billion.
  •, an e-commerce store in the Arab world, raised $275 million in February to be valued at $1 billion.
  • Anaplan, a cloud company selling software to streamline corporate budgeting, raised $90 million in January to be valued at $1.09 billion.
  • Shanghai-based Dada, which offers a mobile app connecting delivery workers with short-distance delivery jobs, raised $300 million in January to be valued at $1 billion.

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