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Which Tech “Unicorns” Are No Longer Unicorns?

September 10, 2016

: sfweekly – excerpt

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The go-go days are still going strong for the tech economy. For the first time in the history of international stock markets, the world’s top five companies by market capitalization are all U.S. tech companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook). And it’s no secret that the wanna-be’s and up-and-coming tech firms have chosen the nickname “unicorn” — the Silicon Valley sobriquet for a startup valued on paper at $1 billion or more.

But some pops in the venture capital bubble have produced the more badass, goth nickname “unicorpse”. Unicorpse is the new Silicon Valley pejorative for a startup that has gone fully Lehman Brothers, or at least is widely speculated to have dipped below its billion-dollar peak valuation.

The pre-IPO investment firm Sharespost published an analysis this month concluding that 30% of all designated unicorns would lose their billion-dollar net worth. Their analysis doesn’t name names, but some digging and snooping can determine the who the earliest unicorn casualties are.

We’ll say up front that startup valuation is a subjective formula. No two investment firms determine valuation in the same way. That’s why the Wall Street Journal currently lists 155 unicorn tech firms, Fortune lists 174 and VentureBeat lists 229 unicorns. But analysis of recent business news, layoffs and valuation metric adjustments indicates which consensus unicorns are no longer unicorns, and have lost their billion-dollar net worth… (more)

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