Which countries are home to the most billion-dollar startups in the world?

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Unicorn companies: the latest data reveals the locations of the world’s most valuable companies.

Unicorns aren’t quite as rare as when Aileen Lee coined the term in 2013. Back then, just 43 startups were valued at $1 billion or more. Today the number is four times higher, with at least 1,074 unicorns in 46 countries across the globe. Their collective value exceeds $3,626 billion and spans industries like fintech, AI, ecommerce and travel.

What is a unicorn company?

A private startup with a value of over $1 billion.

TikTok parent company ByteDance is by far the world’s largest, with a value of $140 billion, followed closely by SpaceX at $100 billion. Other well-known unicorns on the list include Canva, Grammarly, Gousto, Monzo and Harry’s.

Unicorn hotspots: countries leading the way

More than half the world’s unicorns are concentrated in the US, which has more than three times the number of unicorns as China.
Overall, the 10 countries with the strongest concentration of billion-dollar startups are:

CountryNumber of unicornsTotal value ($ billion)
United States562$1,902
United Kingdom43$190

Which Cities Have the Most Unicorns in 2022?

The ten places with the highest number of unicorn startups are:

LocationNumber of unicornsTotal value ($ billion)
San Francisco152$701
New York103$235
Palo Alto18$51

San Francisco is the world’s leading centre for unicorns in 2022

With more billion-dollar startups concentrated in San Francisco than anywhere else, this global business hub outranks the rest for its intensity of high-value businesses. The city’s world-class infrastructure and established business environment attract talent worldwide. At the same time, nearby Silicon Valley and Palo Alto are home to some of the most famous tech companies in the world.

Main industries

  • Internet-based tech and applications – 149 unicorns
  • Fintech – 120 unicorns
  • Health – 51 unicorns

The largest unicorn companies in San Francisco include Stripe, a Fintech business valued at $95 billion, and Instacart and Databricks, worth $39 and $38 billion, respectively.

US states following closely behind San Francisco include New York, Boston and Chicago.

Beijing is home to the world’s most valuable unicorn company

Beijing is home to 63 unicorns, one of which is ByteDance, the world’s highest-valued startup at $140 billion. In addition to owning TikTok, the company also owns China’s most popular news app, Toutiao. Widely considered one of the best cities in the world for startups, Beijing is known for its thriving tech and data industries and has a robust business ecosystem.

Main industries

  • Ecommerce – 11 unicorns
  • AI – 10 unicorns
  • Mobile & Telecommunications – 9 unicorns

Aside from ByteDance, the largest unicorn companies in Beijing include Yuanfudao, an Edtech company worth $16 billion, and Yuanqi Senlin, a company that makes sugar-free and low-calorie drinks, valued at $15 billion.

Chinese cities hot on Beijing’s heels include Shanghai, Shenzen and Hangzhou.

London unicorns lead with fintech

Next to San Francisco and New York, London is home to the most fintech unicorn companies in the world. London’s unicorn startups are valued at $172 billion, and the capital has a well-earned reputation for being one of the most supportive startup ecosystems in the world.

Main industries

  • Fintech – 24 unicorns
  • AI – 2 unicorns
  • Auto & Transportation – 1 unicorn

London’s most valuable unicorns include fintech companies Checkout.com, Revolut and Blockchain.com, worth $40, $33 and £14 billion, respectively.

Outside the capital, UK unicorns can be found in Bristol, Aberdeen and Cambridge.

Most unicorn companies are in tech

Tech is, by a very significant margin, the sector where the most unicorn businesses can be found. The five industries where the most unicorns operate are:

IndustryNumber of unicorn companiesTotal value ($ billion)
Internet software & services205591
Artificial Intelligence84330

Three things successful businesses have in common

  • Strong vision: Successful businesses have a clear and defined set of goals that help determine every decision. It helps build culture, passion and inspiration for everyone in the company.
  • Adaptability: Whether making decisions around tech, office space, ways of working or data, successful companies make decisions that help them stay agile and scale as conditions change.  
  • An empowered team: Collaboration, culture and empowerment are crucial to attracting and retaining the talent that builds successful companies.
Data analysed from CBS Insights

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