While the vast majority of venture capital investments lose money, more than 200 startups, also called "unicorns," have turned into billion-dollar darlings in valuation in recent years. These include famous names such Uber, SpaceX and Dropbox, and lesser-known names such as HomeLink, GreenSky and HelloFresh. 

Biggest Unicorns

According to data collected by CNN/Money in conjunction with CB Insights, Uber is the top unicorn, having raised $12.5 billion from investors, giving it a valuation of $68 billion. Xiaomi, the Chinese hardware company that makes low-cost consumer electronics such as mobile phones, comes in second, valued at $46 billion. Didi Chuxing, the Chinese version of Uber, which Uber sold its Chinese operation to, comes in third at $33.8 billion. Home and apartment sharing platform Airbnb is fourth with a $30 billion valuation, and Palantir, a big data firm that mines information for its clients, including the government and corporations, rounds out fifth at $20 billion.

Together, the value of the top five unicorns has risen to nearly $200 billion. That amounts to a huge return, thus far, on the $29.4 billion in venture capital provided to those companies.

The table below summarizes the highest valued startups as they currently stand:


Source: CNN/Money & CB Insights

Looking at the table, some trends become apparent. First, technology plays a key role in all of these startups, especially in the domain of on-demand, software, and e-commerce. Even WeWork, which is classified as in the real estate sector, is a way for tech startups to easily get office space as well as technology resources. Another trend is that American companies dominate, but Chinese startups also make up a good chunk. This speaks to the growing influence and stature of Chinese entrepreneurship. 4 out of the top 10 are Chinese companies, while one is from India (Flipkart).

The Bottom Line

Rather than fading away, startups reaching valuations of $1 billion or more - so-called unicorns - now number in excess of 200 companies. Most of these companies are involved with technology in one way or another, and while America still dominates the field, Chinese startups are giving the U.S. a run for its money.