A start-up company
that has achieved a valuation
exceeding $1 billion
. Unicorns can be considered the new "dot-com" startups, a term popularized in the late 90s and early 2000s.
In today's business climate, a unicorn is a widely successful company that has attracted venture capital, after which the company is valued (called "post-money" valuation). According to Fortune's "Unicorn List" in January 2016, Uber, Xiaomi and Airbnb are the top three Unicorns.
Uber was founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in San Francisco.
When Kalanick and Camp could not find a cab, they came up with the idea of creating an app to find a ride. According to the founders, the concept
was to "tap a button, get a ride." The business developed
into an ecosystem
where drivers used their own cars, on their own time, to provide
rides to those that need
it. The sophisticated software
calculates the Uber driver
closest to the rider
. The company has operations
in China, Lithuania, Korea, Kenya and Paris to name a few. By 2016, the company generated over $8 billion in equity funds with an estimated valuation of $62 billion
Xiaomi is a privately-owned consumer electronics company based in Beijing. It was founded in 2010 by Lei Jun. Xiaomi develops high-end smartphones and other electronics at low prices. It is the third largest smart phone maker in the world with its largest consumer base in the China mainland. In 2014, it entered the market in India. By 2016, Xiaomi generated $1.45 billion in funding with a valuation of $46 billion.
Airbnb was founded by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia in 2008 in San Francisco.
Its concept is similar to Uber in that it provides a conduit
for people to list and locate lodging
. People can offer
their own home for rent
. The concept was conceived by roommates Chesky and Gebbia in 2007 when they offered their living room loft to conference
attendees attending the Industrial Design
Conference who could not find a hotel
room. In 2008, Nathan Blecharczyk joined the company and built the website
that became the platform
for lodgers and renters to connect. Initially, the company focused on conferences where traditional lodging was likely to fill up. By 2016, Airbnb received a total of $2.4 billion in funding with a valuation of $25.5 billion.