It’s not just VC investors who are hunting unicorns. As corporations ranging from Google to BBVA to Novartis actively invest in young private companies, the number of unicorns backed by corporate venture arms has ballooned.
Among the 74 US private companies valued at $1 billion or more, 38 or 51% have a corporate venture unit as an investor, according to CB Insights data. This number does not include corporations making direct investments into startups. Alibaba Group, for example, has invested in 5 U.S. unicorns since 2013 including Lyft and Snapchat.
DocuSign’s coterie of CVC backers
One unicorn stands out from the rest in taking on corporate venture investors: DocuSign. The e-signature and digital transaction firm has received backing from a whopping 10 corporate venture groups ranging from Intel Capital to Samsung Ventures and Telstra Ventures. Each of the 10 corporate venture arms got in to DocuSign at the Series E+ stage. The chart below highlights the 7 US unicorns with 3 or more corporate venture investors.
|Company||Selected CVC Investors||# of CVC Investors|
|Google Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Intel Capital||10|
|Comcast Ventures, Google Capital, Time Warner Investments||3|
|Google Ventures, Intel Capital, SK Telecom Ventures||3|
|Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Novartis Venture Funds, Fletcher Spaght Ventures||3|
|Docomo Capital, Troika Ventures, Salesforce Ventures||3|
|T-Venture, Qualcomm Ventures, Orange-Publicis Venture Fund||3|
|Intel Capital, In-Q-Tel, Salesforce Ventures||3|
Salesforce Ventures narrowly tops Google Ventures by unicorn count
Among the corporate venture arms with the most unicorns, Salesforce Ventures tops the list with eight unicorns within its portfolio. Salesforce has had an investment arm for several years, but took the step of raising its first formal, dedicated $100M fund just last year. Google Ventures ranks second behind Salesforce with 7 US unicorns including Uber, Slack, Nextdoor, and Cloudera. Google’s late-stage arm, Google Capital, counts three.
Below is a list of corporate VCs with three or more unicorns in their portfolio. Among the CVCs with US unicorn investments, none has invested in their unicorns earlier than mid-stage (Series B).
|Rank||Investor||Selected Unicorn Company Investments|
|1||MuleSoft, Dropbox, DocuSign|
|2||Cloudera, Slack Technologies, Uber|
|3||Zenefits, Instacart, Nextdoor|
|4||Sprinklr, MongoDB, Razer|
|5||Pure Storage, Palantir Technologies, Cloudera|
|6||Magic Leap, TangoMe, Lookout|
|6||Credit Karma, FanDuel, SurveyMonkey|
|6||Lookout, AppNexus, Jawbone|
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