THE $20 BILLION CLUB: Meet the 5 most valuable startups in the world

There used to be a time when a $US1 billion valuation was considered a massive success for tech startups.

Then that threshold rose to $US5 billion, and then $US10 billion.

Looking at recent media reports and The Wall Street Journal’s “The Billion-Dollar Startup Club” list, there are now over 100 “unicorn companies” — companies with $US1 billion+ valuations. There’s a growing number of “decacorn” companies, or startups with $US10 billion valuations.

Now, there’s a group of startups worth $US20 billion or more. Here are the relatively new, private tech companies that are worth tens of billions of dollars — or that will be very soon.

No. 5: Snapchat

Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat

Valuation: $US16-20 billion

CEO: Evan Spiegel

Founded: 2012

What it does: Its photo-messaging app allows users to send photos and videos that automatically disappear after a set period of time.

Total funding: $US1.2 billion

Notable investors: Yahoo, Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Coatue Management, SV Angel

No. 4: Palantir

Valuation: $US15 billion, but $US500 million in new funding could bump up its valuation to $US20 billion

CEO: Alexander Karp

Founded: 2004

What it does: Palantir is a software and services company that specialises in data analysis. Some of its biggest clients are government agencies like the CIA and the FBI.

Total funding: ~$US1.5 billion

Notable investors: Founders Fund, Tiger Global Management, Glynn Capital Management, Jeremy Stoppelman

No. 3: Airbnb

Valuation: $US24 billion

CEO: Brian Chesky

Founded: 2008

What it does: Through its app and website, Airbnb provides a marketplace for people to rent out rooms or their entire homes to other people.

Total funding: ~$US1.8 billion, pending a fresh $US1 billion round of funding

Notable investors: SherpaCapital, T. Rowe Price, Founders Fund, CrunchFund, Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global, General Catalyst Partners, SV Angel, Greylock Partners

No. 2: Uber

Valuation: $US41.2 billion, though a new round of funding could raise its valuation to $US50 billion.

CEO: Travis Kalanick

Founded: 2009

What it does: Uber's taxi-hailing app connects its users with drivers of private vehicles under contract with Uber. It offers different types of cars, from full-size luxury cars to smaller vehicles.

Total funding: $US5.9 billion

Notable investors: Benchmark Capital, Menlo Ventures, Google Ventures, KPCB

No. 1: Xiaomi

Valuation: $US46 billion

CEO: Jun Lei

Founded: 2010

What it does: Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics brands that manufactures smartphones. The company's smartphones are considered among the best that run Android, and the company has hardcore loyalists as Apple does in the US.

Total funding: $US1.4 billion

Notable investors: Digital Sky Technologies, Hopu Investment Management Company, DST Global, IDG Capital Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Morningside Group

BONUS: These companies aren't quite $20 billion companies, but they could be soon.

Elon Musk, Tesla Chairman, Product Architect and CEO, speaks at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

SpaceX, Elon Musk's space exploration company, designs, builds, and launches vehicles for space exploration. SpaceX has raised $US1.2 billion at a $US12 billion valuation.

Flipkart is an India-based e-commerce site specializing in electronics and content like books and music. It has a $US15 billion valuation and has raised $US2.5 billion in funding.

Virtual pinboard Pinterest has raised
$US1.3 billion at an $US11 billion valuation.

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