It was recently announced that China now has more privately held startups valued by investors at over US$1 billion then the United States. According to the research firm, Hurun Report, There were a total of 206 Chinese firms out of a global total of 494 ultra-valuable startups, also known as ‘unicorns’, in June 2019.

This would mean that China is now the country with the most number of unicorn companies in the world, with the US coming in a close second with 203 such companies.

“China and the US dominate with over 80 per cent of the world’s known unicorns, despite representing only half of the world’s gross domestic product and a quarter of the world’s population,” said Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf. “The rest of the world needs to wake up to creating an environment that allows unicorns to flourish.”

According to Hurun, three of the world’s most valuable unicorns currently call China their home. These include Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, app maker ByteDance and the ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which have a combined value of approximately US$280 billion.

Major US names such as Airbnb and co-working space operator WeWork also made the list, which included lesser-known start-ups like California-based automated pizza delivery company Zume and Indian fantasy sports platform Dream11.

Hurun’s Global Unicorn List report that was recently released, said that this was the first time the number of Chinese unicorns was confirmed by researchers to have surpassed US figures.

However it should be noted that a report released in June by another research firm, Visual Capitalist, found only 94 unicorns in China compared with 156 from the US, based on data gathered in May 2019.

The companies identified by Hurun were founded only seven years ago on average, and more than half come from five industries “disrupting the world economy”, said Hoogewerf.

The majority of unicorns globally consisted of e-commerce and financial technology; followed by cloud computing, artificial intelligence and logistics, according to Hurun. This is consistent with the rising trends that have resulted from IR4.0 and the increased rate of digitization by businesses.

Additionally, a number of companies on the list were formerly units of larger companies that had been split off.

“Chinese companies are far and away the most successful at spinning off unicorns, with 18 of the world’s 20 ‘spun-off’ unicorns,” said Hoogewerf.


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