What is a unicorn company?

Definition of a unicorn company

A unicorn company or startup is a title given to a privately owned company valued at over $1 billion (£759 million).

Unicorn companies in the UK

At the start of 2019, there were 310 companies worldwide with unicorn status and that number continues to increase. The vast majority of unicorns are located in the USA and China, but at the end of 2018 there were 12 British unicorns and more forecast to reach unicorn status in the UK in 2019.

Example of a unicorn startup company:

A well-known company in the UK that reached unicorn valuation is Scottish craft beer company Brewdog. The company was valued at over $1 billion in April 2017 after raising over $264 million in funding. Brewdog reached unicorn status 11 years after it was founded and was also the first ever crowdfunded unicorn.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which country has the most unicorns?

There are currently 150 unicorn companies in the United States, followed by China with 83. Combined they make up 75% of unicorns worldwide.

Why are they called unicorn companies?

Due to the rarity of a company reaching a billion valuation, they’re named after the rare and mythical creature: a unicorn. Venture capitalist and founder of Cowboy Ventures Aileen Lee coined the term as part of a report about startups in 2013.

Can a company lose unicorn status?

Yes, if a company’s value drops below $1 billion they’re no longer a unicorn.

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FreeAgent's Chief Accountant Emily Coltman is available to answer your questions in the comments.

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