32 new unicorns are romping in Silicon Valley this year

Silicon Valley’s favored species.
Silicon Valley’s favored species.
Image: Wait but why
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Silicon Valley grew a bumper crop of unicorns this year. Amid the buoyant US economy, venture capitalists minted 32 startups worth at least $1 billion in the Bay Area, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal (pdf).

The companies range from food-delivery service DoorDash to a sneaker company beloved by techies, Allbirds.

Here are the 10 most valuable unicorns of 2018:

While the arrival of new unicorns is growing, the pace of initial public offerings (IPOs) has not kept up.  Four times more startups achieved unicorn status than went public in Silicon Valley this year.  Startups must eventually go public or be acquired to justify their stratospheric valuations.

That’s creating a sort of unicorn traffic jam. Renaissance Capital says 190 companies went public in 2018, the most since 2014. Of those, 52 were tech firms. Next year there might be even more, with Uber, Lyft, and Palantir all expected (paywall) to list on public exchanges.

CBInsights estimates there are already 150 startups valued at $1 billion or more in the US, and another 144 internationally. Yet only so many have the financials or growth numbers to hurdle over investors’ expectations for IPO.

Tech giants continue to snap up smaller companies, often at a premium, before they go public. Workday bought fintech firm Adaptive Insights two days before its IPO this year. In November, SAP bought Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash, twice the expected public valuation, just days away from its own IPO.