Another day, another unicorn spotting.
These once elusive creatures of the corporate world — privately-held companies valued at a $1 billion or more — certainly are plentiful these days.
Just this week, GeekWire reported on another Seattle startup — 5-year-old recruiting tech platform SeekOut — joining the unicorn club. And then today, another blockbuster unicorn boosted its valuation, with Seattle-based sales engagement software company Highspot raising $248 million at a $3.5 billion valuation.
The velocity at which these startups are raising money at lofty valuations is mind boggling, with many longtime watchers of the startup ecosystem saying they’ve never seen an investment pace at this level. In fact, global venture capital investments more than doubled last year, reaching an all-time record level of investment $621 billion. More than half of that haul — $311 billion — went to U.S. companies, according to CB Insights which called the past year “bonkers.”
Unicorn startups aren’t just frolicking in the mossy-covered Northwest. There are 959 startups around the world now with valuations of $1 billion or more. That’s up by 69% over 2020 levels, meaning 517 new unicorns joined the club last year, CB Insights reported.
Before we learn more about the current crop of Seattle area unicorns, a few interesting facts about this group of 15:
- None of the Seattle area unicorns boast a female or Black CEO, a disappointing statistic that signals how the venture and startup community has a long way to go to diversify.
- Microsoft’s lineage runs deep. Of the 15 companies on the list, nine of the companies employ CEOs who spent time at the software giant, many in high-level executive roles.
- When we compiled the Seattle area unicorn list in December 2020, there were 10 startups. That list dropped by three last year when Remitly and Sana Biotechnology completed their initial public offerings and Auth0 sold to Okta for $6.5 billion.
- Even with that attrition, this year’s list has grown to 15, meaning eight new unicorns were minted in 2021.
- Enterprise software still rules the roost in the region. Ten of the 15 companies sell their wares to other businesses. Can you name the five other startups? (Hint: They are in the real estate, consumer internet, transportation, clean tech and gaming categories).
- And most amazingly: Together, this group of 15 Seattle area unicorn companies raised a whopping $2.3 billion in the past 12 months. To put that number in perspective, that compares to a grand total of $2 billion that every Washington startup — 175 in total — raised in all of 2018. And that annual haul was the highest since 2000. It’s safe to say: There’s a lot of money sloshing around.
Now, without further ado, let’s meet the 15 unicorn startups.
*Editor’s note: Data collected via GeekWire, PitchBook, LinkedIn and SEC filings.