Funding for the unicorn class of companies — those private startups valued at $1 billion or more — has fallen sharply in 2023 to about 25% of what it was at the market’s peak in 2021, an analysis of data from Crunchbase.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that leading investors’ investments in unicorn companies have fallen sharply in 2023.
For this analysis, we look at the nine most active venture and growth investors globally who have accumulated the most investments in unicorn companies since 2018.
We found investments mostly in the single digits this year for the most active investors in this asset class.
These nine invested in a total of 44 unicorn companies in 2023 — or 13% of all unicorn companies that raised funding in the private markets that year.
In 2022, they invested in 213 companies, or about 28% of the unicorns funded that year. In 2021, this number was 471 companies, or 30% of this asset class.
This delay is an indication of how much this investor class has shifted its aperture over the past year.
For the three most active investors – growth-stage investors Tiger Global, Coatue and SoftBank Vision Fund – the number of investments in 2021 grew almost 3x or more from 2020 as these firms made bigger bets , as the tech IPO market grows in 2021.
For the multi-stage venture capital firms that were most active — Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Index Ventures — along with growth investor Insight Partners, the number of investments was close to doubling in 2021 compared to 2020.
These firms tended to invest earlier in companies and continued to invest through the growth of venture markets.
Sequoia Capital was the only firm on this active list of unicorn investors that increased its investment pace but did not double annually from 2020 to 2021.
Growth investors are most exposed because of the large dollar amounts these companies have invested in and the high valuations.
Tiger Global has amassed the largest current private portfolio of unicorns based on Crunchbase data analysis, which currently numbers over 200 portfolio companies. But this year, the firm is reported to have sold stakes amid write-downs.
Venture capitalists are less exposed because they typically invest in companies earlier, but they still had to reassess the value of those portfolio companies and lower their exit expectations.
Meanwhile, the unicorn board continues to grow as even the slow pace of new unicorn additions outpaces even the rarer releases.
In 2024, we expect to see a dispersal of the unicorn rankings as some companies close, others get acquired and, at best, go public. And some companies may still be able to raise funding, albeit at lower valuations.
Related queries for Crunchbase Unicorn
The Crunchbase Unicorn Board is a curated list that includes private unicorn companies with post-money valuations of $1 billion or more and is based on data from Crunchbase. New companies are added to the Unicorn board when they reach a valuation of $1 billion as part of a funding round.
The unicorn board does not reflect the company’s internal valuations — such as those determined through the 409a process for employee stock options — because they differ from and are more likely to be lower than a price round of financing. We also do not adjust valuations based on investor write-offs that change quarterly, as different investors will not value the same company consistently within the same quarter.
Funding for unicorn companies includes all private funding for companies that have been flagged as unicorns, as well as those that have subsequently passed on to The Exited Unicorn Board.
Please note that all funding values are in US dollars unless otherwise noted. Crunchbase converts foreign currencies into US dollars at the prevailing spot rate as of the date financing rounds, acquisitions, IPOs and other financial events are reported. Even if these events were added to Crunchbase long after the event was announced, foreign currency transactions are converted at the historical spot price.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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