Study: Majority of $1 billion tech companies in past decade outside of Silicon Valley

Maybe the world is finally flat, with innovation and growth flourishing anywhere. In this vision, Silicon Valley doesn’t have any special sauce that brews companies that reach a $1 billion valuation.


According to a new study cited by the Financial Times, 60 percent of 134 “unicorns,” defined as startups that reached a $1 billion valuation in the past decade from being bought, going public or a funding round, were from outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

The findings:

  • 79 from the U.S.
  • 52 from the S.F. Bay Area
  • 26 from China
  • 21 from Europe

None came from Latin America, Africa or the Middle East.

Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, whose venture firm Atomico, worked on the report, declared that there is an “irreversible trend” of high-value tech companies being created in places outside of the West Coast.

“To build a truly successful company you have to have remarkable entrepreneurs,” he told the FT. “That talent is everywhere.”

Maybe. But the study doesn’t appear to compare the past decade to previous decades, so it is hard to know if this is indeed a trend. The FT quoted a skeptic who said that West Coast firms like Google and Microsoft are often the buyers of these unicorns.

One thing the study found that is worth noting: Companies are reportedly becoming “unicorns” faster than ever, with firms taking an average six years to reach $1 billion.

Above: Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, MCT Archives


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