Hang on, aren’t unicorns those single-horned creatures that bounce spiritedly through fairy tale landscapes leaving rainbows and glimmering gold dust in their trail? Folks, it's time to put those childhood stories to bed.
That myth has grown into a very real phenomenon in the business world. These days unicorns are mainly startup firms that reach a valuation of $1 billion or more. The faster they get there, the more impressive their climb to unicorn status is.
Bolting to a billion
There are more than 200 such unicorns, with American retail site Jet.com setting the record for hitting $1 billion the fastest – it took just 4 months since its launch. To date, only 4 companies have become unicorns in less than a year, and 15 got there within a couple of years.
Indeed the journey to unicorn status is speeding up. In 2015, more than 90 companies reached $1 billion and 10% of these unicorns were among the fastest ever achievers. The billion-dollar newborns include mother and infant ecommerce site BeiBei, online lender Rong360 and app developer APUS Group.
Veterans of business
Let's not forget our business ‘elders’. One of the slowest companies to claim the unicorn crown was antivirus software company Avast – it took nearly 26 years. Other older unicorns include Skyscanner and Shazam.
Quickest sectors and locations
The social media sector has created some of the fastest unicorns like Snapchat and Pinterest. App development, software and e-commerce are industries giving other unicorns a run for their money.
The location of the fastest unicorns isn’t actually the USA, where most unicorns are based. Asia’s startups are developing rapidly; it’s home to almost a quarter of the world’s unicorns, and it takes an average of just 5 years to become one. That’s a year less than in Europe and America.