2016 was not a good year in unicorn land.
- Deals to unicorn startups were down dramatically in 2016, at 144 compared to 212 in 2015, a 32% activity decline. Dollar funding to these companies was $36B, down 24% in the year compared to 2015. (These numbers include deals and dollars that went to past unicorns while they were part of the club).
- Forty-two private companies became unicorns worth $1B+ or more in 2016. That means that among the 184 private companies around the world that are valued at $1B+, only 23% of them were new to the CB Insights unicorn tracker last year. For reference, of the companies on the list, seventy-nine companies joined the club last year, or close to half (43%) of the world’s present-day unicorns. Thirty-nine of the companies on the list became unicorns in 2014.
- Seven unicorns experienced a down-round last year in which their valuations were lowered.
Collectively, 2016′s unicorn cohort is worth approximately $69B. Combined, these companies have raised nearly $17B. Despite new additions to the unicorn club in 2016, overall funding activity for still-private companies presently valued at $1B+ was down through the end of last year, compared to 2015. Thirteen unicorns left the club last year after an M&A or IPO.
For information on those companies and others check out CB Insights Downround Tracker.
Quarterly financing history — 2016 saw big deals
Q2’16 saw a spike in funding to unicorn companies, largely caused by Uber’s $3.5B Private Equity round from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Notably, Uber also received $1B in a deal with Didi Chuxing in August.
In Q4’16, the data-center company Global Switch obtained nearly $3B from investors that included Ping An Insurance, among other Chinese investors. Also in Q4’16, the business applications company Infor garnered $2.5B from Koch Industries. The rounds for Global Switch and Infor are the second- and fourth-largest investment rounds to a unicorn company since 2009, respectively. Both companies became unicorns in 2016.
Four other unicorns received $1B+ investment rounds last year. They include: Snap ($1.3B Series E+) in Q2’16, Lu.com ($1.2B Series B) in Q1’16, Didi Chuxing ($1B Series E+) in Q2’16, and Spotify ($1B convertible note) in Q1’16.
Who’s out and who’s down?
The 13 companies that exited the club in 2016 are: Kabam (acquired by NetMarble), Meitu (IPO), Skyscanner (acquired by Ctrip), Nutanix (IPO), Jet.com (acquired by Walmart), Ucar Group (IPO), Twilio (IPO), NantHealth (IPO), Stemcentrx (acquired by AbbVie), Lazada (corporate majority by Alibaba Group), Powa Technologies (asset sale), Jasper Technologies (acquired by Cisco Systems), and Legendary Entertainment (acquired by Wanda Group).
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Home24 loses membership to the club
The 7 unicorns who’s valuations were lowered last year, or exited at lower valuations than $1B: HelloFresh (downround), Home 24 (slipped below $1B and was removed from the list), Global Fashion Group (downround), Wandoujia (exited), Zenefits (downround), NantHealth (IPO’d at a lower valuation), and Jawbone (downround).
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