While many small businesses aim for growth over the first few years, few would turn down instant global success. Up until recently, the possibility of gaining global traction quickly looked remote. But of course, we don’t live in the past anymore. We live in the age of digital communication and digital platforms. And that has led to the rise of so-called “unicorn” startups. Startups that effectively came out of nowhere and burst onto the global scene in a matter of months.
Right now a unicorn is defined as a startup worth more than $1 billion. And there are, according to Forbes, 200 or so such companies. But today we’re only interested in the most valuable.
It’s shouldn’t come as any surprise that one of the world’s most valuable unicorn startups has emerged in China. The country has fallen in love with capitalism since Deng Xiaoping opened the country up in 1979. And the country has the largest internal market in the world.
Didi Kuaidi can be thought of as China’s response to Uber. It’s basically software that allows customers to hire taxis on their smartphones. Right now the company is valued at a cool $16 billion. But expect this to go much higher in the decade ahead.
Palantir is another software company, this time specialising in Big Data. Why is Palantir so important? Well, the company could be a big name in the economy of the future. The more Big Data is used in manufacturing, logistics and other services, the more we’ll hear about them. Big Data is expected to be how we organise production lines and cities in the future. And so that’s why this US company is currently running a valuation of over $20 billion.
I’m sure you’re recognising the trend by now. Here we have yet another software startup with an impressive valuation. Thanks to some excellent business leadership, Airbnb has now reached a global audience. People can book accommodation anywhere in the world. And people can list their accommodation on Airbnb’s platform too.
This isn’t just a tool for traditional hoteliers. It’s for anybody who wants to rent out a house or a room, practically anywhere in the world. The global reach of Airbnb has resulted in a valuation of $25.5 billion.
Few Westerners have heard of this company. But Xiaomi is a big shot over in China. And it’s estimated to be worth some $46 billion. Why? Well, the company designs and develops its own smartphones, primarily for the Chinese market. You would think that Apple would have cornered the market, but apparently not. Xiaomi is here to stay.
No doubt you saw this one coming. It’s no secret that Uber is the most valuable startup in the world, and one of the most controversial. The ride-sharing company now operates in dozens of countries around the world. And it allows practically anyone with a modern car to make a bit of money taxiing people around. Connecting passengers with drivers is only the start of Uber’s vision of the future. Right now the company is estimated to be worth around $62 billion.