The Age of $1 Billion Startups

Ideas / January 23, 2015 / Written by Fortune

Today the technology industry is crowded with billion-dollar startups. When Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee coined the term unicorn as a label for such corporate creatures in a November 2013 TechCrunch blog post, just 39 of the past decade’s VC-backed U.S. software startups had topped the $1 billion valuation mark. Now, casting a wider net, Fortune counts more than 80 startups that have been valued at $1 billion or more by venture capitalists (full list here). And given that these companies are privately held, a few are sure to have escaped our detection. The rise of the unicorn has occurred rapidly and without much warning, and it’s starting to freak some people out.

“It used to be that unicorns were these mythical creatures,” says Jason Green, a venture capitalist at Emergence Capital Partners whose investments include Yammer, which sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion. “Now there are herds of unicorns.”

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