When we came across this infographic about billion startups by Staff.com, we were impressed to see the number of young companies that have sky-high valuations. That is, until we started calling out big names that we expected to see on the list. Where is Pinterest? What about SurveyMonkey, Rovio and Kayak? Once we started doing some research we realised that the billion-dollar club has in fact become more of a party in the park than an exclusive VIP snootfest.
The New York Times did the thumbsuck-math and came up with a number between 25 and 40 startups that now have billion dollar plus valuations. Many companies like Palantir, which does predictive data analysis or Zscaler, a startup that provides online corporate data security, shine outside of the consumer mainstream spotlight. Lesser-known consumer companies like Jawbone, the mobile gadget maker has a US$1.5 billion valuation, while private sales site Vente Privee fly well below the radar despite boasting a US$3 billion price tag.
What pushes up the valuations? The New York Times article points to low interest rates, which entices private equity companies to take large stakes in startups. “Young tech millionaires and wealthy foreigners like Yuri Milner, the Russian billionaire, have been private investors, too. As each one puts more money into a start-up, it escalates the bidding for the others.”
Are the high valuations a harbinger of a tech bubble? Not if you ask the entrepreneurs. They argue that as innovations like smartphones and cloud computing blossom, the tech industry, already worth hundreds of billions of dollars, gets more room to grow. Additionally, the business-to-business/enterprise startup space is seeing good traction.
While looking at this infographic we’re still in awe of how Instagram, a company with a mere 19 employees and within the span of just two years managed to rocket to its high-profile acquisition in 2012.
For more billion-dollar startups check out this comprehensive lists by the Wallstreet Journal.