GLOBAL UNICORN INDEX 2022 HALF-YEAR REPORT
IN SEARCH OF START-UPS FOUNDED AFTER 2000, WITH A VALUATION OF US$1BN AND NOT YET LISTED ON A PUBLIC EXCHANGE.
NUMBER OF UNICORNS IN WORLD UP 254 OR 24% TO 1312 UNICORNS, IN SIX MONTHS TO JUNE 2022.
USA LEADS GLOBAL START-UP ECOSYSTEM, ADDING 138 UNICORNS TO TOTAL OF 625, JUST UNDER HALF THE WORLD’S TOTAL
CHINA SECOND WITH 312 UNICORNS, UP 11.
INDIA RETAINS 3RD PLACE WITH 68 UNICORNS, UP 14, PULLING AWAY FROM UK IN FOURTH.
UK 4TH WITH 46 UNICORNS, UP 7. GERMANY MAKES UP TOP 5 WITH 36 UNICORNS, UP 10.
ELON MUSK’S CALIFORNIA-BASED SPACEX sHOT UP 25% TO VALUATION OF US$125BN, OVERTAKING HANGZHOU-BASED FINTECH PLATFORM ANT AT US$120BN, DOWN 20%.
TIKTOK OWNER Douyin RETAINS TITLE OF WORLD’S MOST VALUABLE UNICORN WITH A VALUE OF US$200BN, DOWN 43% FROM US$350BN.
369 UNICORNS MADE GLOBAL UNICORN INDEX FOR FIRST TIME, LED BY USA WITH 187 AND CHINA 59.
NEW FACES WERE LED BY FINTECH CHICAGO-BASED CITADEL SECURITIES WITH US$22BN AND SAN FRANCISCO-BASED VISUAL COLLABORATION START-UP MIRO (US$17.5BN). ELON MUSK’S 2016-FOUNDED TUNNEL CONSTRUCTION UNICORN THE BORING COMPANY MADE TOP 10 NEW FACES WITH VALUATION OF US$5.7BN. MUSK HAS A THIRD UNICORN ON THE LIST, AI RESEARCH LABORATORY OPENAI.
INSURE-TECH SECTOR GREW THE FASTEST YEAR-ON-YEAR BY 840%, FOLLOWED BY CONSTRUCTION BY 508% AND E-SCOOTERS BY 500%.
LOGISTICS DECLINED MOST IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS, SHRINKING 77%, FOLLOWED BY ADTECH BY 49% AND SOCIAL MEDIA BY 40%.
BY NUMBER, FINTECH UNICORNS GREW FASTEST, ADDING 29 UNICORNS, FOLLOWED BY BLOCKCHAIN AND ENTERPRISE SERVICES WITH 22 EACH.
3% OR 34 UNICORNS ‘PROMOTED’ AFTER IPO OR ACQUISITION.
81 UNICORNS DROPPED OFF FROM GLOBAL UNICORN INDEX 2021, AFTER VALUATION DROPPED BELOW US$1BN, OF WHICH 36 ARE FROM THE USA AND 35 ARE FROM CHINA
SHENZHEN-BASED FINTECH WEBANK BROKE INTO TOP 10 WITH VALUE OF US$33BN, UP US$3BN, AND LONDON-BASED FINTECH CHECKOUT.COM, RANKED NINTH WITH VALUE OF US$28BN, UP US$13BN.
SAN FRANCISCO RETAINED WORLD’S UNICORN CAPITAL WITH 176 UNICORNS. NEW YORK OVERTOOK BEIJING TO TAKE SECOND SPOT WITH 120 UNICORNS. BEIJING THIRD WITH 90 UNICORNS AND SHANGHAI FOURTH WITH 69 UNICORNS.
FIRST UNICORNS. ITALY, CROATIA, ECUADOR, GREECE, ICELAND AND SEYCHELLES MADE HURUN INDEX FOR FIRST TIME.
NO UNICORNS: RUSSIA, SAUDI ARABIA, POLAND, VENEZUELA AND EGYPT ARE THE LARGEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD BY GDP WITHOUT A UNICORN.
FINANCIAL SERVICES, BUSINESS MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS, HEALTHCARE AND RETAIL MOST DISRUPTED BY UNICORNS.
CHINA RIDE-SHARING APP DIDI AND COFFEE BRAND LUCKIN COFFEE RETURNED TO GLOBAL UNICORNS AFTER DELISTING.
FINTECH LED WITH 168 UNICORNS, FOLLOWED BY E-COMMERCE AND SAAS WITH 127 EACH. FOURTH HEALTHTECH WITH 97, FOLLOWED BY AI WITH 94, CYBER SECURITY WITH 61 AND BLOCKCHAIN WITH 52.
SEQUOIA WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL UNICORN INVESTOR FOR THIRD YEAR, INVESTING INTO ONE IN SIX OF THE WORLD’S UNICORNS. SOFTBANK OVERTOOK TIGER FOR SECOND PLACE, ROUNDING OUT ‘BIG 3 UNICORN INVESTORS’.
AVERAGE UNICORN AGE OF 8 YEARS.
59 UNICORNS WERE FOUNDED AFTER 2020, LED BY BLOCKCHAIN, UP 10, FOLLOWED BY E-COMMERCE AND CYBER SECURITY WITH SIX UNICORNS EACH
INDIANS FOUNDED FURTHER 56 UNICORNS OUTSIDE INDIA, CHINESE FOUNDED FURTHER 30 OUTSIDE CHINA.
AFRICA HAS 4 UNICORNS, UP 1: NIGERIA-BASED FINTECH START INTERSWITCH AND OPAY, SENEGAL-BASED FINTECH START-UP WAVE AND SEYCHELLES-BASED BLOCKCHAIN START-UP KUCOIN.
TOTAL VALUE OF ALL KNOWN UNICORNS IN WORLD US$4.2TN, UP 13% OVER THE LAST SIX MONTHS.
(30 August 2022, Guangzhou, China & Mumbai, India & Sydney, Australia & LA, USA) The Hurun Research Institute today released the Global Unicorn Index 2022 Half-Year Report, a ranking of the world’s start-ups founded in the 2000s, worth at least a billion dollars and not yet listed on a public exchange. The cut-off date used was 30 June 2022. Hurun Research has been tracking unicorns since 2017.
This report includes the Most Successful Unicorn Investors in the World 2022 Half-Year Report, a ranking of the 100 most successful unicorn investors, and the Most Successful Unicorn Investors in China 2022 Half-Year Report, a ranking of the 30 most successful unicorn investors, based on the number of unicorns they have invested in.
Hurun Research found 1,312 unicorns in the world, based in 48 countries and 259 cities. On average, they were set up eight years ago, i.e. in 2014. 80% sell software and services, with only 20% selling physical products. 48% are consumer-facing, while 52% sell to businesses. The world’s unicorns are disrupting financial services, business management solutions and healthcare. The total value of all known unicorns in the world is US$4.2tn, more than the GDP of Germany.
There were 369 ‘new faces’, 81 drop-offs and 34 promotions. Of the 34 unicorns ‘promoted’, 25 went IPO and 9 were acquired. 81 were ‘demoted’ because their valuation dropped below US$1bn.
223 unicorns saw their valuations increase in the last six months, while 147 saw their valuations drop and 573 retained their valuation over the last six months.
Unicorn founders are 44 years-old on average, meaning that they founded their unicorn when they were 36. Unicorns have 2 founders on average. One third are serial entrepreneurs, having sold out of a previous start-up. 40% met at a previous job, whilst 1 in 8 met at a university. Computer Science and Business Studies were the most common degrees pursued by the founders. One in five unicorns have at least one co-founder from outside the country of origin of the unicorn. The USA, especially Silicon Valley, attracted the most unicorn founders from abroad, followed by Europe. India led the way for emigrant unicorn founders, followed by China, Israel and Russia.
Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said: “New technologies are dramatically changing our lifestyles, throwing up massive opportunities for those who can envision them. These changes have driven unicorns to new records, with the world minting 2 new unicorns a day for each day of the first half of this year, taking the total of known unicorns to more than 1300. At this rate, 2022 could overtake last year as the best year ever for unicorns and disruptors, all the more surprising, considering that the world’s stock markets were down US$13tn in the same period and high profile unicorns like the buy now pay later.”
“I hope this list of the world’s unicorns can help young entrepreneurs find role models for their businesses.”
“The Global Unicorn Index 2022 Half-Year Report is designed to highlight the world’s most successful start-ups. These unicorns are leading a new generation of disruptive technology, with fintech, e-commerce, business management solutions, healthtech and AI, industries now attracting the world’s top young talent and smartest capital.”
“I am delighted to release the Global Unicorn Index 2022 Half-Year Report on the occasion of the Global Unicorn CEO Conference in Guangzhou, inviting the world’s unicorns, investors and advisers to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship, new technologies and business models.”
“Unicorns are a benchmark of a world-class start-up ecosystem. The more unicorns a country has, the better the start-up ecosystem. Currently, the US is dominating, adding over 5 unicorns a week since the end of last year. 48 countries are now able to boast of having at least one unicorn, up from 42 at the end of last year, with the likes of Italy and Croatia officially having unicorns for the first time.”
“There is a trend towards serial entrepreneurs, founders who have proven themselves before and are now embarking on a new business. The average age of the founder of a Hurun unicorn, for example, is 36 years old. As the technology demands have increased, so the number of unicorn founders having postgraduate qualifications has increased, followed by five years of work experience with another company and then starting out with their first business aged 29.”
“A comparison between the US and China unicorns highlights the current start-up trends for each country. US unicorns are more in SaaS, fintech and healthtech, whilst China unicorns are in healthtech, AI and e-commerce.”
“There has been a massive surge in unicorns since Covid. The 1200 new unicorns minted in the last two years are disrupting financial services, business management solutions, healthcare and retail.”
“369 new unicorns have been found in the first six months of this year, two a day. Almost a third of these are doing fintech, SaaS and blockchain. 80% are providing services, with only 20% having physical products. 65% are selling to businesses and 35% to consumers.”
“India – for the first time – has more unicorns onshore than abroad, 68 to 56. The percentage of homegrown unicorns has increased from one third two years ago to 55% today.”
“Which sectors have the greatest potential? Half of the world’s unicorns are in FinTech, SaaS, E-commerce, AI, HealthTech and Cyber security, specific sectors that the world’s smartest capital is investing into.”
“A successful start-up ecosystem requires rolemodels, both individuals, such as those from the Hurun Rich Lists, and companies, such as those from the Hurun 500 most valuable companies series. Attracting the best capitalists, who bring with them money, advice and experience, plays a critical role. If a city or country can attract the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, companies and venture capitalists to set up shop there, that will have a roll-on effect. Entrepreneurship is infectious and cities with lots of rolemodels are likely to attract the brightest and best young entrepreneurs. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Today 48 countries have at least one unicorn, up from 42 at the end of last year, with the likes of Italy and Croatia enjoying their first unicorns.”
“SE Asia, with its population of over 1 billion, is a region with strong potential for unicorn growth. Today there are 28 known unicorns headquartered there, led by 12 from Singapore and 5 from Indonesia. Fintech and e-commerce are leading the way, followed by games and logistics.”
“3% or 34 unicorns from last year’s list have been ‘promoted’ out of the list, led by 25 which went IPO and 9 which were acquired. This is down 90% on last year, on the back of adverse market conditions, meaning many fewer IPOs.”
“The Global Unicorn Index is compiled using data from the world’s leading investors, the ‘entrepreneurs behind the entrepreneurs’, making this perhaps the most serious attempt to capture all of the world’s unicorns into one list.”
“Hurun is committed to promoting entrepreneurship through its lists and research. Hurun’s ‘startup series’ has four main components. It begins with the Hurun U30s Entrepreneurs to Watch, a list of the top entrepreneurs under the age of 30. Next up are two ‘future unicorn’ lists, the pipeline for unicorns: Hurun Cheetahs, most likely to ‘go unicorn’ within 5 years and currently with a valuation of between US$200 million and US$500 million, and Hurun Gazelles, most likely to ‘go unicorn’ within 3 years and currently with a valuation of between US$500 million and US$1 billion. The Global Unicorn Index is the pinnacle of the world’s start-ups.”
“You have built your start-up into a unicorn with a billion-dollar valuation. Now, what’s next? The Hurun Global 500, currently requiring a valuation of US$33 billion. Less than 10 unicorns have managed that jump this year, led by Douyin and SpaceX.”
Top 10 Unicorns in the World
This year’s top 10 unicorns make up 17.6% of the total value of the world’s unicorns. 5 are from China, 3 from the USA, and 1 each from the UK and Malta.
There are five new faces: fast fashion platform Shein, Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance, Shenzhen-based digital bank WeBank, Beijing-based digital technology start-up JDT and London-based fintech Checkout.com pushed out Stockholm-based Klarna, which has had a terrible year, Sydney-based Canva, San Francisco-based Instacart and, London-based Revolut.
Started in 2012, Beijing-based Douyin is officially the world’s most valuable unicorn for the second year running, albeit down US$150bn to US$200bn. Its flagship TikTok has 1.2bn monthly active users. Founder Zhang Yiming, 38, stepped down as CEO in 2020 and ByteDance changed its name to Douyin in May.
In the second spot is USA-based SpaceX. Founded by the world’s richest person Elon Musk in 2002, it is the most valuable unicorn in the USA. Since then, SpaceX has raised US$9.5bn in 53 funding rounds, with the latest one valuing the unicorn at US$125bn. SpaceX’s key projects include Starlink, aimed at providing internet connectivity to the whole world, and the Starship rocket, which aims to land humans on the lunar surface and Mars.
Hangzhou-based Ant Group is down one place to third with a valuation of US$120bn. Spun out of Alibaba in 2014, Ant was the world’s most valuable unicorn in 2019 and 2020, but has since lost US$30bn of value.
Started by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison in 2010, San Francisco-based payment solutions platform Stripe retains its fourth position for the second time. In March 2021, Stripe announced a US$600mn investment round. Stripe has raised US$2.2bn in 21 funding rounds.
Fast fashion platform Shein surged eleven places to take fifth position. The Chinese company saw its valuation increase to US$60bn, up from a US$100bn valuation at the beginning of this year but still triple that of a year ago.
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance entered into the Top 10 with its valuation tripling to US$45bn. The world's largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of daily trading volume was founded in 2017 by CZ Zhao and He Yi, and boasts its own crypto coin, BNB. Headquartered in Malta, CZ and He Yi are based out of Dubai and Singapore. Key investors include Vertex Ventures, Black Hole Capital, and Funcity Capital.
San Francisco-based Databricks, a data and AI company, is in 7th place. In August last year, Databricks raised US$1.6bn in a Series H round, valuing it at US$38bn.
In 8th place with a valuation of US$33bn is Shenzhen-based digital bank WeBank. Founded in 2014, the start-up is backed by Tencent, Warburg Pincus and Temasek.
Breaking into a Top 10 spot is China-based JDT, the fintech unit of e-commerce giant JD.com, with focus on artificial intelligence and cloud computing. JDT provides a range of financial services to clients including supply chain finance, consumer finance, crowdfunding, asset management, payment solutions and insurance.
London-based payments platform Checkout.com is in 10th place, up 11, and US$13bn to US$28bn, after raising US$1bn in January.
Where are the World’s Unicorns based?
The world’s unicorns come from 48 countries around the world, up from 42, spread around 259 cities, up from 221 at the end of last year.
USA leads with 625 unicorns, up 138, followed by China with 312, up 11.
The USA added 187 ‘new faces’, while China added 59. The USA had 15 ‘promotions’ from the index: 11 IPOs and 4 acquisitions. In China, 11 were promoted (9 IPOs), and 35 were demoted, no longer making the cut.
India consolidated its Top 3 spot with 68 unicorns, led by online educator BYJU’S worth US$22bn, followed by on-demand delivery start-up Swiggy (US$11bn) and fantasy sports platform travel-stay finder Dream11 (US$8bn). A further 56 unicorns were started by Indian co-founders outside of India, taking the total to 124 unicorns founded by Indians around the world. Of the unicorns founded outside of India, significantly all were in the USA (51), led by the Bay Area, and 2 in the UK, and 1 each in Germany, Singapore and Mexico. For the full 56 index, see Appendix 2.
The UK stands fourth with 46 unicorns, led by payment platform Checkout.com with US$28bn. The UK has 12 new unicorns, and 2 ‘promotions’ after going public.
Germany retained fifth place, adding 10 unicorns. The most valuable unicorn in Germany is the Munich-based SaaS Celonis with a valuation of US$8.3bn.
Israel overtook France for sixth place with 24 unicorns, adding 7 more to its tally.
By city. San Francisco retained the title of ‘World Unicorn Capital’ with 176 unicorns, up 25. New York overtook Beijing to take second spot with 120 unicorns, up 35. Beijing with 90 unicorns dropped down to third, followed by Shanghai with 69. London with 39 unicorns was fifth, followed by Bengaluru and Shenzhen with 33 unicorns each.
To make the Hurun World’s Top 30 Start-up Cities required at least 8 unicorns. Denver, Austin, Chengdu, Miami and Washington DC broke into the Top 30 for the first time, easing out Nanjing, Hong Kong, Sunnyvale, Atlanta and Seattle.
A comparison of the USA and China with the Rest of the World
USA added 138 unicorns in the last six months to take its tally to 625 unicorns, whilst China added 11 to take it total to 312. The Rest of the World had 375 between them.
The total value of all USA-based unicorns stood at US$1.9tn, compared with US$1.3tn for China-based unicorns, and US$1tn for the Rest of the World.
By city, both San Francisco and Beijing have similar percentages of unicorns for their respective countries. In the USA, New York was the fast-growing city for unicorns, whilst in China it was Guangzhou. For the Rest of the World, London and Bengaluru led the way, followed by Berlin and Paris.
Can’t find a Unicorn here
Russia, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Venezuela and Egypt are the largest countries in the world by GDP without a unicorn.
As a continent, North America has the most numbers of unicorns with 654, ahead of Asia with 462. In terms of total valuation, North America led with a value of US$1.9tn, followed by Asia with US$1.7tn and Europe with US$454bn.
Hurun Research identified 369 new unicorns from 38 countries. The USA added 187, followed by China with 59 and India with 17. These new unicorns were worth US$649bn, more than the GDP of Poland. Didi made a rare return to the Global Unicorn Index, after delisting in the US.
Biggest drop in valuations
147 unicorns saw their valuations drop in the last six months, of which 71 were from the USA and 29 from China. Beijing-based Douyin led the way with the biggest drop in valuation, down US$150bn to US$200bn. Sweden-based Klarna saw a 86% drop in valuation, while USA-based Stripe saw a 35% drop in total value during the last six months.
81 unicorns from the last year saw their valuation drop below US$1bn, of which 36 were from the USA and 35 from China, led by Ping An Healthcare Technology, which had a valuation of US$9bn last year.
What industries do they come from?
Hurun Research has broken down the industries of these unicorns into three: the industries they are disrupting, their core and detailed industries.
Financial Services, Business Management Solutions, Healthcare and Retail have seen the most disruptions by unicorns.
What is the core business of these unicorns?
FinTech, as a core industry, has the most number of unicorns in the world and is followed by E-commerce and SaaS.
FinTech. There are 168 fintech unicorns in the world today. 24% are payment technology-related unicorns. The most valuable FinTech unicorns are Ant Group (US$120bn), followed by payments platform Stripe (US$62bn) and WeBank (US$33bn). FinTech dominates with US$742bn or 17.6% of the total value of all unicorns.
E-commerce. There are 127 e-commerce unicorns with a total value of US$383bn. Apparel retailer Shein with US$60bn and Indonesia’s J&T Express with US$20bn lead the industry valuations, followed by San Francisco-based Faire with US$13bn. With 36 unicorns, the USA has the largest number of e-commerce unicorns, followed by China (28) and India (19).
SaaS. With 127 unicorns, SaaS is second. Top SaaS unicorns are Australia based Canva (US$26bn), followed by Shanghai-based Xiaohongshu (US$20bn) and San Francisco-based Rippling (US$11bn). The total value of all SaaS unicorns is US$379bn.
HealthTech has 97 unicorns, making it the 4th largest sector with 7.5% of the unicorns. San Francisco has seen the most unicorn activity in HealthTech and is home to 19 unicorns. Shanghai-based United Imaging is the most valuable HealthTech start-up valued at US$15.5bn, followed by Devoted Health (US$13bn).
Artificial Intelligence boasts 94 unicorns and is at the fifth position, an increase of 10 in six months. With a US$13bn valuation, San Francisco-based AI-powered writing assistant Grammarly leads the industry followed by Talkdesk (US$10bn) and Guangzhou-based Pony.ai at US$8.5bn.
Cyber Security has 61 unicorns and is sixth. Led by Emerville-based Tanium (US$9bn), followed by San Jose-based Lacework (US$8.3bn) and New York-based Fireblocks (US$8bn). These unicorns make up 4.7% of the global index and their combined valuation comes to US$140bn.
Blockchain comes next with 52 unicorns and is led by Malta-based Binance (US$45bn), followed by Bahamas-based FTX (US$20bn), San Francisco-based Ripple (US$11bn), and New York-based OpenSea (US$10.6bn). These unicorns make up 4% of the global index and their combined valuation comes to US$229bn.
Enterprise Services is eighth with 40 unicorns and a total valuation of US$88bn. San Francisco-based visual collaboration platform Miro with US$17.5bn leads, followed by JD Chanfa with a valuation of US$8bn.
Logistics comes eighth with 40 unicorns and a total valuation of US$130bn. Hangzhou-based Cainiao with US$27bn valuation leads, followed by Novi- based Lineage Logistics with a valuation of US$18bn.
Biotech is tenth place with 37 unicorns with a total valuation of US$78bn, 2.8% of all unicorns. At the top is clinical-stage biotechnology company Biosplice Therapeutics (US$12bn), followed by Chicago-based Tempus (US$8.1bn).
Years to Unicorn
The average age of unicorns in the Global Unicorn Index 2022 Half-Year Report is eight years, of which 59 are less than three years old. Only one, MSquared, became a unicorn within its first year of operations.
Which investors are the best at finding Unicorns?
Sequoia retained its title of the most successful unicorn investor in the world having invested in 234 unicorns, up 28 from the last index. Moving up by one rank, Softbank is the second most successful investor with 180 unicorns in its portfolio. Tiger is in the third position with 169 unicorns in its portfolio and Tencent stands fourth having invested in 90 unicorns. Between them, the top three investors have invested in almost 44% of the unicorns in the world.
For the full index of the Most Successful Unicorn Investors in the World 2022 Half-Year Report, see Appendix 1.
Which investors are the most successful at finding China Unicorns?
Unicorns gone IPO or acquired
34 unicorns from last year were ‘promoted’ out of the Hurun Unicorn Index. 25 went IPO and 9 were acquired.
Of the promotions, 10 shot straight into the Hurun Global 500, becoming one of the 500 most valuable companies in the world, led by Beijing-based TikTok owner Douyin (US$200bn). Others include SpaceX (US$125bn), Ant Group (US$120bn) and Stripe (US$62bn).
4 unicorns, which went IPO in the last six months, saw their valuations drop to below US$1bn, led by Quanergy Systems and Dave, which dropped over 90% after their IPO.
Software and services versus physical products?
80% sell software and services, led by FinTech and followed by SaaS, E-commerce and AI.
20% have a physical product as a core business offering, led by Semi-Conductor, Food & Beverages and Heath Tech. In the last index, physical product as a core business offering, were led by Biotech, HealthTech and Consumer Goods.
Comparison between Gazelles, Unicorns and Global 500
A Gazelle is a start-up founded in the 2000s, worth over US$500mn, not yet listed on a public exchange and most likely to ‘go unicorn’, i.e. hit a valuation of US$1bn, within three years. The Hurun Global 500 is a list of the 500 most valuable non state-controlled businesses in the world.
The pipeline for the Hurun Global 500 is the Global Unicorn Index and the pipeline for the Global Unicorn Index is the Hurun Global Gazelle Index. From this, we can see how China and India have a higher percentage of Gazelles and Unicorns, which over the course of 5 years, will translate into a higher percentage of Global 500s. In the same way, Germany, France and Canada have a smaller percentage of start-ups, which suggests they will lose ground in the Global 500.
By city, San Francisco, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Bengaluru have more start-ups and ought to have more Global 500s within five years.
By industry, healthcare and business management solutions ought to grow into Global 500 companies.
Companies selling software & services and directly to businesses, rather than consumers, are on the up.
3% or 34 Unicorns from last year’s index were promoted in the last six months.
The Global Unicorn Index is compiled by the Hurun Research Institute, and includes companies founded in the 2000s with a current valuation of US$1bn, not yet listed on a public exchange. Cut-off for this year’s index was 30 June 2022.
Many of the world’s top investment houses provided details of their portfolio, which the Hurun research team cross-checked against specialized investment databases, industry experts, media sources, as well as unicorn co-founders.
Valuing unicorns can be tricky. The very nature of these super-fast-growing companies makes valuations hard to pin down, but to ensure consistency of the valuations, the Hurun Global research team used the most recent valuation based on a sizeable round. Where it becomes harder is when a unicorn is underperforming or on its way down, since it is unlikely to have a new round of investment at a valuation lower than the previous round. In this case, Hurun uses industry comparatives to ascertain a new lower valuation.
Countries and cities are ranked according to the unicorn head office.
Unicorns drop out from the Global Unicorn Index either by being ‘promoted’, ie by listing on a public exchange (IPO) or being acquired, or by being ‘demoted’, when their value drops below US$1bn.
Hurun Research has been tracking unicorns since 2017.
Disclaimer. All the data collection and the research has been carried out by Hurun Research. This report is meant for information purposes only. Reasonable care and caution have been taken in preparing this report. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources that are considered reliable. By accessing and/or using any part of the report, the user accepts this disclaimer and exclusion of liability which operates to the benefit of Hurun. Hurun does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of any information contained in the report and neither shall it be responsible for any errors or omissions in or for the results obtained from the use of such information. No third party whose information is referenced in this report under the credit to it, assumes any liability towards the user with respect to its information. Hurun shall not be liable for any decisions made by the user based on this report (including those of investment or divestiture) and the user takes full responsibility for their decisions made based on this report. Hurun shall not be liable to any user of this report (and expressly disclaim liability) for any loss, damage of any nature, including but not limited to direct, indirect, punitive, special, exemplary, consequential losses, loss of profit, lost business and economic loss regardless of the cause or form of action and regardless of whether or not any such loss could have been foreseen.
Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, is a political, economic, cultural and scientific & educational centre of South China. As one of China’s national central cities, it serves as an international commercial hub and a comprehensive gateway with extensive transportation networks. Meanwhile, Guangzhou is also a national famous historical and cultural city, and enjoys the fame of a “Millennial Capital of Commerce”.
Guangzhou is a core engine for GBA development. It has maintained stable trade and investment ties with over 220 countries and regions across the globe. In 2021, Guangzhou’s total retail sales of consumer goods and foreign trade volume both exceeded one trillion yuan for the first time, making it the third Chinese city to achieve both of such goals. It was listed as one of the first international consumption centre cities. A total of 335 Fortune 500 companies have invested in Guangzhou and the number of market entities increased by 6.8% to 3.0857 million. Guangzhou ranked second by the number and areas of exhibitions; Canton Fair Complex Phase IV project is to be completed soon, and the complex will become the largest of its kind in the world.
Guangzhou is a vibrant city for living and business. A business environment 5.0 reform has been launched to build an enabling environment for startups, investment and trading. As one of the first national pilot cities for business environment innovation, Guangzhou has ranked as the benchmark for two consecutive years. The actual use of foreign capital was 36.266 billion yuan between January to July 2022, growing by 10.6%; total retail sales of consumer goods reached 595.297 billion yuan, up 2.4% year on year.
Guangzhou is a global transportation hub. Guangzhou Port’s cargo and container throughputs rank 4th and 5th in the world respectively. Baiyun International Airport has ranked top in China by passenger traffic for two years in a row, and is expected to become the world’s busiest airport after its phase III project is finished. Guangzhou South Railway Station’s passenger flow ranks first in the country. Guangzhou is an important bridge for RCEP members, and it takes less than four hours to reach most of these countries by flight.
In June, the State Council issued the Master Plan of Guangzhou Nansha on Deepening Comprehensive Cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau with Global Perspective, positioning Guangzhou’s Nansha District as an important strategic platform and granting it massive support policies. A technological innovation industrial cooperation centre and a youth entrepreneurship and employment cooperation platform will be created to build Nansha into a gateway for high-standard opening up, a hub for alignment of rules and systems, and a remarkable example of high-quality urban development.
Guangzhou is a city full of opportunity and hope. It is the best investment and development destination for global businesses. We sincerely hope enterprises across the globe invest in Guangzhou and join us to explore the development possibilities in the Greater Bay Area.
About Huangpu District / Guangzhou Development District
Located in the core area of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Province, Huangpu District / Guangzhou Development District is known as the "Pearl of the GBA" (Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area), and is one of the first national economic and technological development districts. In 2021, it registered a regional GDP of more than RMB 400 billion and total industrial output of RMB 877.1 billion, with multiple key economic indicators ranking top among the country's economic development districts, making it Guangzhou's hub of real economy, main engine of sci-tech innovation, and key platform for reform and opening-up.
The District consists of four zones, i.e., China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, Guangzhou Science City, Port of Huangpu, and Guangzhou International Bio Island. The Knowledge City is a national bilateral cooperation project between China and Singapore, with an aim to become a national knowledge center with global influence. In the core area of Guangzhou High-Tech Industry Development Zone, the Science City is becoming a smart manufacturing center in China with international influence. The Port of Huangpu is accelerating efforts to develop into a trade and innovation center that serves the Belt and Road Initiative. As Guangzhou's center of biomedical R&D, the Bio Island is striving to build itself into a world-class R&D center for biopharma and biosecurity.
The District is among the most popular investment destinations of multinational companies in China, with more than 200 projects invested by Fortune Global 500 companies and over 70 listed companies. The District became the only Chinese winner of the UN Investment Promotion Award in 2019, and has received the Award of National Investment Promotion Agencies and Projects for three consecutive years.
As the only experimental zone for business environment reforms in Guangdong, the District has built its business brand called "Huangpu Smile" and launched appointment-free, one-stop quick approval services. Thus, companies can obtain approval in one month, get land in three months, and start construction in six months.
Huangpu is the district most favorable to enterprises, as it has been the first in China to set up windows for receipt of policy supports. Policy supports can be gained through one visit within a limited time frame. It only takes 10.5 working days normally and half a day at the fastest speed.
As the only pilot zone for IPR utilization and protection reforms in China, the District is home to over 200 IPR-related agencies such as Guangzhou IP Exchange, and Patent Examination Cooperation Guangdong Center of the Patent Office, CNIPA. Now it has a robust IPR protection system covering justice, mediation, arbitration, administrative law enforcement and speedy rights protection, and a resolution mechanism for diverse IPR disputes.
During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the District will focus on eight pillar industries, i.e., biotech, integrated circuit, new display, auto manufacturing, new materials, green energy, high-end equipment, and cosmetics & healthcare, and work hard on Huangpu's four plans to achieve "Trillion Industrial Output", "Trillion State-owned Capital", "Trillion Fixed Investment", and "Trillion Goods Sales Volume" in pursuit of high-quality development.
As the main engine of sci-tech innovation in the GBA, it ranks first among its counterparts nationwide in terms of sci-tech innovation capabilities, with a world-class R&D intensity of 5.71% and nearly 40,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. The number of high-tech firms in the District has grown by almost ten times from around 200 in 2015 to over 2,100 in 2021, ranking top in China. Among them, 51 are listed high-tech companies, accounting for half of the total in Guangzhou, yielding more than 70% of the city's high-tech industry output.
The District is committed to improving the tech firm nurturing model of "Startup - High-tech Firm - Gazelle - Unicorn - 10-Billion High-tech Firm", so as to support companies growing bigger and stronger throughout their lifecycle. In 2013, the District became the first area in Guangdong to launch the "Gazelle Companies Nurturing Program", with the number of gazelle companies increasing from 122 to 541 in the past eight years. In 2017, it started to identify unicorn companies, with a total of 22 recognized, among which six have been listed at home and abroad. Particularly, XPeng, WeRide, and EHang in the area have become globally renowned tech companies. Companies in Huangpu District such as WeRide and Smarter Micro were included in the Global Unicorn Index 2021 released by Hurun Research Institute. In addition, on the list of "Little Giants", or specialized and sophisticated enterprises that produce new and unique products, published by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 32 were based in Huangpu District, and this figure ranks first in the city.
To further attract and nurture fast-growing high-tech companies, the District has introduced a string of specific policies since 2021, such as the "10 Measures regarding Specialized and Sophisticated Enterprises That Produce New and Unique Products" and "Measures to Promote the Development of High-growth Technology Enterprises". In particular, national "Little Giants" are entitled to a reward of up to RMB 100 million for their new major industrial projects. An identified unicorn company can receive a reward of up to RMB 5 million in a single field, with a total annual reward of up to RMB 9 million. The District is one of the areas in China that grant such enormous supports for enterprises.
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