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Newsroom > Blog > Lack of focus could be the key to starting a Billion Dollar Company

Lack of focus could be the key to starting a Billion Dollar Company

Yasmina Couty

In the venture capital industry, a unicorn refers to any tech startup company that reaches a $1 billion. In 2016, there are 176 such companies with a combined valuation of $628BN*

We have looked at the top 100 unicorns and studied the leadership titles of their founders to see what the secret sauce is to launching a billion dollar business.

Structure your Unicorn…Stay Vague

  • 25% of these top 100 companies had only 1 founder, who assumed the title of Chief Executive Officer
  • A Further 25% of the unicorns had a CEO and generic “founders” who had an active role in the company at the time of valuation but no specific title
  • Third most popular founder configuration was Founders only, with no titles (7%)
  • Companies where the only founders serving in executive roles were the CEO and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) comprised 6% of the $1BN+ club
  • Rounding out the top 5 founder configuration of startup unicorns was CEO and generic President (3%)

1

Our hundred unicorns had an average of 1.74 Founders per company, meaning that critical roles such as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, VP of Human Resources and Chief Counsel are viewed as more peripheral and brought on as the company receives funding. The occurrence of Founders’ titles in the top 100 Unicorns is shown below.

2

From available Data** the top 20 most popular startup founder configurations are shown in the infographic below

3
The full ranking of the top 100 valued startups is shown below

2016 Unicorn Leaderboard

Rank Company Name Current Valuation (BN) Joined List Industry
1 Uber 68.00 Aug , 2013 On-Demand
2 Xiaomi 46.00 Dec , 2011 Hardware
3 Didi Chuxing 33.80 Dec , 2014 On-Demand
4 Airbnb 30.00 Jul , 2011 eCommerce/Marketplace
5 Palantir Technologies 20.00 May , 2011 Big Data
6 Snapchat 18.00 Dec , 2013 Social
7 Wework 16.00 Feb , 2014 Facilities
8 Flipkart 16.00 Aug , 2012 eCommerce/Marketplace
9 SpaceX 12.00 Dec , 2012 Other Transportation
10 Pinterest 11.00 May , 2012 Social
11 Dropbox 10.00 Oct , 2011 Internet Software & Services
12 DJI Innovations 10.00 May , 2015 Hardware
13 Spotify 8.53 Jun , 2011 Internet Software & Services
14 Snapdeal 7.00 May , 2014 eCommerce/Marketplace
15 Lyft 5.50 Mar , 2015 On-Demand
16 Stripe 5.00 Jan , 2014 Fintech
17 Coupang 5.00 May , 2014 eCommerce/Marketplace
18 One97 Communications 4.83 May , 2015 Fintech
19 Magic Leap 4.50 Oct , 2014 VR/AR
20 Cloudera 4.10 Mar , 2014 Big Data
21 Yello Mobile 4.00 Nov , 2014 Mobile Software & Services
22 Vice Media 4.00 Aug , 2013 Media
23 Slack Technologies 3.80 Oct , 2014 Internet Software & Services
24 Garena 3.75 Mar , 2015 Mobile Software & Services
25 Tanium 3.50 Mar , 2015 Cybersecurity
26 Credit Karma 3.50 Sep , 2014 Fintech
27 Delivery Hero 3.10 Nov , 2014 eCommerce/Marketplace
28 Fanatics 3.10 Jun , 2012 eCommerce/Marketplace
29 VANCL 3.00 Dec , 2010 eCommerce/Marketplace
30 Docusign 3.00 Mar , 2014 Internet Software & Services
31 Moderna 3.00 Dec , 2014 Healthcare
32 ContextLogic 3.00 May , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
33 Hellofresh 2.90 Sep , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
34 Oscar Health Insurance 2.70 Apr , 2015 Healthcare
35 Bloom Energy 2.70 Mar , 2009 Greentech
36 Mozido 2.39 Oct , 2014 Fin Tech
37 Adyen 2.30 Dec , 2014 Fintech
38 Houzz 2.30 Sep , 2014 eCommerce/Marketplace
39 Klarna 2.25 Dec , 2011 Fintech
40 Survey Monkey 2.00 Dec , 2011 Internet Software & Services
41 Huimin 2.00 Sep , 2016 On-Demand
42 Evernote 2.00 May , 2012 Internet Software & Services
43 Zenefits 2.00 May , 2015 Fintech
44 Avant 2.00 Sep , 2015 Fintech
45 Github 2.00 Jul , 2015 Internet Software & Services
46 Meitu 2.00 Jun , 2014 Social
47 Domo Technologies 2.00 Apr , 2015 Big Data
48 Instacart 2.00 Dec , 2014 On-Demand
49 Blue Apron 2.00 Jun , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
50 AppDynamics 1.90 Jul , 2014 Big Data
51 ZocDoc 1.80 Aug , 2015 Healthcare
52 Sprinklr 1.80 Mar , 2015 Internet Software & Services
53 The Honest Company 1.70 Aug , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
54 Curevac 1.65 Mar , 2015 Healthcare
55 MongoDB 1.60 Oct , 2013 Big Data
56 BlaBlaCar 1.60 Sep , 2015 On-Demand
57 Skyscanner 1.60 Jan , 2016 Internet Software & Services
58 Insidesales.com 1.50 Apr , 2014 Big Data
59 Quanergy Systems 1.59 Aug , 2016 Auto Tech
60 Mu Sigma 1.50 Feb , 2013 Big Data
61 Jawbone 1.50 Jul , 2011 Hardware
62 Farfetch 1.50 Mar , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
63 Razer 1.50 Oct , 2014 Hardware
64 Mulesoft 1.50 May , 2015 Internet Software & Services
65 Buzzfeed 1.50 Aug , 2015 Media
66 Ironsource 1.50 Aug , 2014 Mobile Software & Services
67 Unity Technologies 1.50 Jul , 2016 Gaming
68 Koudi Gouwu 1.40 Oct , 2014 eCommerce/Marketplace
69 Hike 1.40 Aug , 2016 Social
70 DraftKings 1.35 Jul , 2015 Internet Software & Services
71 Deem 1.35 Nov , 2011 Big Data
72 Apttus 1.30 Sep , 2015 Internet Software & Services
73 Thumbtack 1.30 Sep , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
74 Go-Jek 1.30 Aug , 2016 On-Demand
75 Ten-X 1.20 Mar , 2014 Internet Software & Services
76 Appnexus 1.20 Aug , 2014 Adtech
77 Warby Parker 1.20 Apr , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
78 Auto1 Group 1.20 Aug , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
79 Human Longevity 1.20 Apr , 2016 Healthcare
80 Infinidat 1.20 Apr , 2015 Hardware
81 Okta 1.20 Sep , 2015 Cybersecurity
82 Offerup 1.20 Sep , 2016 eCommerce/Marketplace
83 Automattic 1.16 May , 2013 Internet Software & Services
84 Shopclues 1.10 Jan , 2016 eCommerce/Marketplace
85 Uptake 1.10 Oct , 2015 Big Data
86 Proteus Digital Health 1.10 Jun , 2014 Healthcare
87 Actifio 1.10 Mar , 2014 Big Data
88 TangoMe 1.10 Mar , 2014 Social
89 Nextdoor 1.10 Mar , 2015 Social
90 TransferWire 1.10 Jan , 2015 Fintech
91 23andMe 1.10 Jul , 2015 Healthcare
92 Anaplan 1.09 Jan , 2016 Internet Software & Services
93 Jiuxian 1.05 Jul , 2015 eCommerce/Marketplace
94 Africa internet group 1.04 Feb , 2016 eCommerce/Marketplace
95 AppDirect 1.04 Oct , 2015 Internet Software & Services
96 Udacity 1.00 Nov , 2015 Internet Software & Services
97 Medallia 1.00 Jul , 2015 Internet Software & Services
98 Shazam 1.00 Jan , 2015 Mobile Software & Services
99 Souq 1.00 Feb , 2016 eCommerce/Marketplace
100 Wandoujia 1.00 Jan , 2014 Internet Software & Services

The Archetypal Founders

The data above is not surprising when we consider the typical startup in the top 100. Founders are typically visionaries who see a problem with an idea of how to solve it but often lack the formal training to produce and manage their vision. Founders therefore surround themselves with people to piece together the details. As such, CEO, Founder, President and Chairman are all widely used titles that convey authority but essentially mean “I started this, I told people how to make it, but I don’t do a lot of the specifics” The AirBnB story depicted below illustrates this point.

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All information compiled by Xoomworks

* CBInsights.com
**Techcrunch.com

 

 


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