2021 and the rise of ultra-high value ‘decacorn’ start-ups

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The world now has more new start-ups valued at $10bn or more than ever before.

2021 has been a record year for decacorns, or new start-ups valued at $10bn or more, with 30 companies joining the club first created when Facebook (now Meta) hit a massive valuation milestone in 2007.

The fresh figure is double the 15 decacorns added in 2020 and six times the 2019 figure of just five decacorns, according to global business information platform Crunchbase.

This has already been a record-breaking year for tech unicorns worldwide, with a recent report from GlobalData indicating that tech unicorns are no longer rare. It found more than 750 privately owned companies valued at more than $1bn in existence across the world in 2021.

Some of the most recent additions to the decacorn club include writing tool Grammarly, which raised $200m last week and hit a $13bn valuation, and online wholesale marketplace Faire – both based in San Francisco.

Canva, which raised $200m in its latest funding round, has seen a 40-fold increase in value in the last four years and is now valued at $40bn. In September, its CEO Melanie Perkins said that the decacorn is on track to exceed $1bn in revenue.

London-based Revolut, which was valued at $33bn in July, is another new 2021 decacorn and, according to Crunchbase data, is now the 10th most highly valued company in the world. Other new entrants to the decacorn club this year were San Francisco-based Databricks, Bahamas-based crypto exchange FTX and Shanghai-based e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu.

Three start-ups that became decacorns in 2021 also went public this year. These are US EV automaker Rivian, online game platform Roblox, and website building service Squarespace. Indian fintech Paytm is the most recent decacorn to go public this year.

“As we head into 2022, private equity and hedge funds are looking to invest in high-growth companies pre-IPO,” wrote Crunchbase researcher Gené Teare. “With more than 1,000 private unicorns and counting, and 90 of those valued between $5bn and $10bn, we can expect new decacorn creation to continue at a steady pace in 2022.”

In July, a Dealroom report found that Europe was leading the way in the billion-dollar tech boom, with 65 of the 170 cities globally to have at least one unicorn at the time.

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