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unicorn
AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo
Not so rare anymore.
UNICORNS

The biggest unicorn makers in tech, ranked

By Alice Truong

Unicorns—the nickname given to startups worth at least $1 billion—are becoming more commonplace these days. Though more than 100 companies joined the billion-dollar-startup club last year, it’s rare for even the most renowned investing firms to mint more than a handful of them.

According to data from research firm Pitchbook, Accel Partners and Insight Venture Partners are considered the biggest unicorn makers in tech. The two firms, respectively based in Palo Alto, California and New York City, have each made seven investment deals that helped push the valuation of a startup above $1 billion.

For Accel, these companies include Spotify, Lookout, SimpliVity, and Illumio. For Insight Venture Partners, its list has Delivery Hero, Pluralsight, Docker, and Nextdoor. There’s also some overlap between the two firms: Both helped make AirWatch, Qualtrics, and Hootsuite into billion-dollar companies. Accel and Insight Venture Partners have not responded to a request for comment.

Venture capital firm Deals that pushed startup valuation past $1 bln
Accel Partners 7
Insight Venture Partners 7
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers 6
Sequoia Capital 6
Tiger Global Management 5
Andreessen Horowitz 4
Greylock Partners 4
IDG Capital Partners 4
Bessemer Venture Partners 3
Institutional Venture Partners 3
Qiming Venture Partners 3
Banyan Capital 2
Benchmark Capital 2
BlackRock 2
Comcast Ventures 2
Formation 8 2
Goldman Sachs 2
Index Ventures 2
Industry Ventures 2
Matrix Partners 2
Meritech Capital Partners 2
Temasek Holdings 2
VantagePoint Capital Partners 2
Venrock 2

In total, only 90 venture-capital firms can consider themselves unicorn makers, and the vast majority—two-thirds—have only one such startup under their belts.

A few things to note about the data: The numbers take into account follow-on deals, which include subsequent investments in companies the firms already had a stake in. In addition, the data look only at later funding rounds, and thus firms specializing in early investments, which may include startups that go on to become billion-dollar companies, aren’t represented here.