6 Unicorn Startups That Made It Big
Unicorns are mythical beasts, and they share that name with startup companies that have an estimated value of over $1 billion, according to Investopedia. Unicorn startups provide a rare glimpse into companies that are able and willing to take good ideas and make them into great business opportunities. Companies that are unicorns, like their mythical counterparts, are rare. When they do show up, however, they make quite a splash. The investing world takes notice because when these companies enter the public market, they can make quite an impact on investors’ portfolios. The following unicorn startups have shown how success comes from companies whose ideas meet proper planning.
History: Everyone the world over knows about Amazon, the supplier of almost everything anyone could want. Jet takes that outlook and changes it to benefit the customer. According to Business Insider, Jet focuses on people who enjoy saving money through discounts but don’t want to go through the effort of finding and clipping coupons [https://www.businessinsider.com/jetcom-launches-today-ceo-marc-lore-interview-2015-7]. Launching in 2015, the billion-dollar company builds on the premise that the online retail market is likely to hit $1 trillion by 2030, and that Amazon can’t possibly control the entire market.
Valuation: Acquired by Walmart in 2016, the company’s value is estimated at around $3 billion as of the date of acquisition, according to Dealroom.
Outlook: The company remains live to date and still provides services to clients. If the growth of the online retail industry is any indicator, the outlook remains positive for Jet. However, the company doesn’t seem to have a lot of traction in the media, dropping off significantly since its initial launch. The lack of exposure may impact the company’s long-term growth.
2. The Honest Company
History: The Honest Company was started in 2012, and managed to hit unicorn status in 2015, according to Jilt. The billion-dollar company has gone through some ups and downs in recent years, losing its unicorn status and regaining it. The business model The Honest Company ascribes to builds on marketing healthy products that are eco-friendly to consumers that care about the environment and humanity’s impact on it.
Valuation: The company has raised several rounds of financing, and while current estimates are unavailable, Fortune reports that the latest series of funding by the company puts it below $1 billion.
Outlook: After raising $200 million in funding, The Honest Company is well on its way to recovering its unicorn status. Only time will tell if the company has the legs on it to return to valuation over $1 billion, but signs are strong, according to Built in LA, that the company may recover and prosper, thanks to its interest in international markets.
History: The San Francisco-based grocery delivery service was founded in 2012 by former Amazon employee Apoorva Mehta. The LA Times mentions that before Instacart becoming a success, its founder was involved in over twenty failed startup ideas. The billion-dollar company achieved unicorn status in 2015.
Valuation: The startup has continued to see success, with its most recent estimate putting the company at over $7 billion, based on reports from Vox.
Outlook: After Amazon acquired Whole Foods, Instacart stated that they would not be involved in working with them anymore, reports CNBC, suggesting that the company has something planned to continue its meteoric rise upwards. The market for grocery delivery services is still sparse, and Instacart has a significant stake in it already which isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Outlook for future success for this startup is excellent.
4. Blue Apron
History: Started in 2012 as a company dedicated to sending complete meal ingredients to subscribers, this startup hit unicorn status in 2016, according to Inc. Blue Apron has expanded its operations to beyond meals and not offers wines as well with delivery customizable to clients.
Valuation: Pitchbook mentions that the company value stood at $3 billion as of its 2017 IPO offering, but recent reports and the current share price suggest that the valuation for the company may be much lower at present.
Outlook: The company’s fortunes have been a roller coaster ride, with competitions coming from all quarters. Severe curtailment of the company’s marketing efforts hamstrung the business, and it is only now starting to get back on its feet. While it has achieved unicorn status in the past, it remains to be seen whether the company will return to its previous heights. Outlook on this unicorn isn’t particularly good.
History: Slack was founded in 2014, as Tech Vibes informs us, from the ashes of a game studio. The software designed to connect the US and Canadian offices of Tiny Speck Ltd. were eventually retooled into Slack. The software was adopted in a big way by companies around the world, with its tag line of making work more fun coming true. Slack became a billion-dollar company in the middle of 2015.
Valuation: As of 2018, states Phys.org, the company was valued at approximately $7.1 billion.
Outlook: From the humble beginnings of a cross-border connection between offices, Slack has grown significantly. The Financial Times reports that Slack now competes directly with software giant Microsoft for the corporate communication market. If the recent strides in Slack’s acceptance in corporate environments are any indication, this unicorn seems destined for great things in the long term.
History: Initially developed at Stanford University in 2011, the application for sharing disappearing pictures was initially named Picaboo, according to Startup Stories. The billion-dollar company hit unicorn status in 2015 and has never looked back since, still making waves in social media and competing with giants like Twitter and Facebook head-on.
Valuation: Tech Crunch mentions that as of 2018, Snap, the parent company that operates Snapchat, was valued at $14 billion.
Outlook: SnapChat continues to see regular use and isn’t likely to lose market share to other companies in the space any time soon. The business outlook for Snap is outstanding, especially since its popularity in the public arena has made it one of the most used apps on both Android and iOS.
Unicorns Don’t Live Forever
If one can see anything from examining these unicorn companies, it’s that having unicorn status doesn’t necessarily mean that the company will thrive. It is a useful stepping stone that some companies have managed to leverage to grow faster than their competition.
However, for every successful unicorn, there may be two that failed. Building on one’s success as an entrepreneur is as important as getting to the point of being recognized as an industry leader. Shooting stars tend to burn out, just like some unicorn companies.