The 14 fastest unicorns to reach $1 billion

Not a lot of companies get to a $US1 billion valuation, or the so-called “unicorn” status.

And some of them manage to do it faster than others.

These are the companies that got to a $US1 billion valuation faster than anyone else, based on data from research firm Pitchbook.

14. Square makes accepting payments easy


Time it took to reach $US1 billion valuation: 2.93 years

Latest valuation: $US6 billion

Total funding to date: $US590 million

What it does: Square, founded by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, is a mobile payment company that simplifies the way businesses accept payments. It's best known for its point-of-sale stand and credit card reader, but it lately started making small business loans as well. In July, it was reported to have filed for an IPO.

11. Instacart makes grocery shopping super easy

Instacart via Facebook

Time it took to reach $US1 billion valuation: 2.58 years

Latest valuation: $US2 billion

Total funding to date: $US274 million

What it does: Instacart allows users to do online grocery shopping at local stores by sending personal shoppers to pick up and deliver it for you. Users can shop at a variety of local stores like Safeway, Whole Foods, and Costco. Some of the biggest VCs have invested in it, including Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sequoia Capital.

10. Webvan was the Instacart of the 90s

Screen grab from Webvan
Webvan was founded in 1999 and went bankrupt in 2001.

Time it took to reach $US1 billion valuation: 2.56 years

Latest valuation: Bankrupt

Total funding to date: $US441 million before IPO in 1999

What it did: Similar to Instacart, Webvan delivered groceries, but it did it out of its own warehouses, which cost up to $US40 million each. It burned through over $US800 million in cash in less than 3 years, and eventually went bankrupt, making it one of the poster children of the bubble dot-com era.

3. Akamai Technologies is a content delivery network that handles almost 30% of all Web traffic

Kyle Russell/Business Insider
Akamai CEO Tom Leighton

Time it took to reach $US1 billion valuation: 1.58 years

Latest valuation: $US13 billion (market cap)

Total funding to date: Public company

What it does: Akamai's content delivery network basically makes the internet faster and more reliable for its users. It claims to handle almost 30% of all web traffic, and over 2 trillion daily internet interactions. Akamai went public in October 1999.

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