European tech is booming. Over the last year, 13 startups became unicorns — companies with $US1 billion-plus valuations —according to research bank GP Bullhound.
It’s a marked increase from a year prior, when just 3 new unicorns were created.
And in 2013, when the term “unicorn” was first coined, just four unicorns “were born per year in the last decade” worldwide.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go to catch up with the US — as Quartz notes, Facebook alone is worth twice as much as every single European unicorn put together. And in the same timeframe, the US produced 22 unicorns. But nonetheless, in Europe right now, things are looking up.
Adyen is a payments company that raised $US250 million in December 2014. Investors include General Atlantic, Index Ventures, and Felicis Ventures, Fortune reported at the time -- at a $US1.5 billion valuation. Its founders, Pieter van der Does and Arnout Schuijff are both Dutch, and it now has more than 3,5000 merchants in 187 countries on the platform, including Spotify, Burberry, and Facebook.
In a recent interview with Tech.eu, van der Does said an IPO or exit isn't on the cards. 'If you look at what we're doing now, at our hyper-growth -- we're doubling in size every year and had about €150 million in revenue in 2014 -- then it wouldn't be a very logical thing for us to do. If you are convinced that the books are going to show this kind of growth in the next few years, then it's something that should be considered in a few years.'
Delivery Hero is going from strength to strength, and closed a fresh $US110 million round of funding in early June -- making up $US1 billion of funding overall, $US600 million of which came this year alone. The company is now worth $US3.2 billion.
So what does the German startup do? Well, it has a series of apps and local websites that partner with local restaurants in different countries -- 34 at the last count. In the UK, it operates as Hungry House, for example, while in Korea, it's YoGiYo. It now enjoys $US165 million monthly sales.
CEO Niklas Östberg hails from Switzerland.
This Scottish fantasy sports company differentiates itself from others in the industry by focusing on one-off games, rather than entire leagues. It's a model that is clearly working: In February, Fortune reported it was chasing a fresh $US100 million funding round.
Farfetch is a London-based fashion startup that raised $US86 million in March 2015 at a $US1 billion valuation. It acts as an online storefront for more than 300 boutiques around the world, able to keep overheads low by not holding any stock itself.
The round was led by DST, a VC firm that has previously invested in Twitter, Facebook, Xiaomi and more. Condé Nast and Vitruvian Partners, both previous investors, also returned.
Funding Circle is a peer-to-peer lending service based in London. In April 2015, it scored a $US150 million funding round that catapulted the startup into unicorn territory.
Home24 is a German online furniture store that also attained unicorn status over the last 12 months. According to Tech World, it has taken $US20 million equity funding overall.
Another Berlin-based company, Rocket Internet has the stated aim of becoming 'the world's largest internet platform outside of the United States and China.' According to its site, 'we identify and build proven Internet business models and transfer them to new, underserved or untapped markets where we seek to scale them into market leading online companies. Rocket started in 2007 and has now more than 30,000 employees across its network of companies, which are active in more than 110 countries across six continents.'
The company is publicly listed in Germany, with a market cap of more than $US5 billion.
Skrill is an online payments company that offers money transfers as well as online payment solutions with partners including eBay, William Hill, Bet365, and Skype. According to the FT, it was acquired by Optimal Payments -- based in London -- for €1.1 billion.
One of London's more prominent unicorns, TransferWise also has a large office in Talinn, Estonia, where its founders originate. It is a money transfer service that cuts down on fees by using a peer-to-peer system that means money rarely actually has to leave the country. Someone in the UK trying to send their French friend some money might instead have their funds rerouted to a Brit receiving a similar amount from abroad. The French friend, meanwhile, is sent the amount from someone within France -- all automatically.
In January 2015, it raised $US58 million in a funding round led by respected US VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Shazam is probably the new unicorn with the strongest name recognition with ordinary consumers. It builds an app that automatically recognises songs for the user based on a short snippet -- letting them identify a song playing in a club or on the street. It raised $US30 million with a roughly $US1 billion valuation in January 2015 -- twice what it was worth a year prior.
CEO Rich Riley has ambitious plans for the future, hoping to move beyond music identification alone. 'Our vision is to connect people to the world around them,' Riley told the Wall Street Journal. 'It is still early days. People aren't yet used to 'Shazaming' print ads and soda cans and that kind of stuff, but we think that is where the world's going.'
Ve Interactive is a London-based b2b technology company that provides solutions for e-commerce clients, boasting it can improve online conversions by an average of 25%.
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