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World Economic Forum

The Second Home to 'Unicorns' Is in Asia


The Second Home to 'Unicorns' Is in Asia

Source:Ming-Tang Huang

Although Silicon Valley is still in the top spot for breeding 'Unicorns', startup companies that are valued at more than $1 billion, some Asian cities are hot on their heels. Beijing and Shanghai have led the way in Asia, ramping up to compete.



The Second Home to 'Unicorns' Is in Asia

By Emma Charlton
web only

Consider the unicorn, a mythical animal representing something highly desirable but difficult or impossible to find. The term is also used to describe the statistical rarity of a startup company valued at more than $1 billion.

In Asia, China is leading the way. Beijing has birthed 29 unicorns since 2012, according to data compiled by CB Insights. Shanghai follows, with 11, and then Indian cities New Delhi and Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore).

Image: CB Insights

In Beijing, one of the largest transactions was ecommerce giant, which was valued at about $26 billion in its 2014 initial public offering. DiDi, a ride-sharing and technology conglomerate that rivals Uber is another example, raising $15 billion on a valuation of $56 billion. And online consumer lending firm Qudian was valued at $7.9 billion.

Shanghai might be behind Beijing, but it still boasts some hefty transactions. Online food delivery service ELEME Inc. was sold for $9.5 billion and consumer finance marketplace PPDAI Group was valued at $3.9 billion.

While Silicon Valley in California still leads the way internationally, Beijing is hot on its heels. In the period that Beijing saw 29 unicorns, Silicon Valley had 57, but the Chinese cities are ramping up to compete as investors start to look beyond California.

Image: CB Insights

The proliferation of unicorns in Asia shows the region’s growing influence in the technology sector. This chart shows how company creation is increasing, with financing on the up:

Image: CB Insights

Chinese cities Shenzhen and Hangzhou, home of the Alibaba headquarters, are seen as Asia’s hubs with high potential for the future, according to CB Insights. Shenzhen, north of Hong Kong, produced five tech unicorns between 2014 and 2017.

Edited by Shawn Chou

Additional Reading

Taiwan’s Unheralded Tech ‘Unicorn’ 
An Asian Tiger Catching Up In The Internet Sector
China Is Among the 20 Most Innovative Economies for the First Time

Original content can be found at the website of World Economic Forum.

♦ These Asian cities are breeding unicorns

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