Billion Dollar Unicorns Outside the Valley

Almost exactly a year ago, I remember reading Fred Wilson’s post in which he asked his influential readership to help crowd-source a study of billion dollar companies via Hackpad in response to an article in Techcrunch (“Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups”).

As is always the case with the internet, much of the hard work involved in that original project has now been used as the basis for a similar project further down the line. VC firm Atomico has now pulled together a fascinating study of billion dollar software companies that have been founded since 2003. Take a look at the website, the results have really been compiled in a really user-friendly way.

Whilst there’s always going to be debate over the definitions and exclusions from such a research project, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that it’s always the big picture that matters with these things. The companies that reach that arbitrary billion-dollar valuation that acts as a proxy for phenomenal success (both in this study and further afield) are managing to do so in ever-shorter timescales with every year that passes – so, for example, it currently takes these outliers six years to get there from formation on average.

I was interested to see Sweden pop up in third position (after the US and China) as the country with most billion-dollar examples (three).

However, if there’s one key finding in the research for me, it’s the fact that 61% of the 138 companies that hit that billion-dollar mark were actually based outside Silicon Valley. This certainly gives credence to the argument that you can start and grow an incredible company anywhere. And for anyone based around the Scottish tech startup scene, that sounds like pretty good news.

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