The number of 'unicorn' startups worth over $1 billion has grown by 3000% since 2009

A note from investment bank Credit Suisse on Friday shows just how much the valuation of many of the most well-known and successful start-ups has exploded in the post-financial crisis years.

The authors have tracked the number and total valuation of “unicorns” for the past seven years. Unicorns are defined as private start-ups estimated to be worth more than $US1 billion (£641.7 million).

The number has simply exploded:

In 2009 the total valuation ran to just a few billion dollars, and there were just four companies that fit the name. Now there are 124 unicorns, and the combined valuation runs to $US468 billion (£300.33 billion) against a total valuation of $US13 billion (£8.34 billion) in 2009.

That’s a 3000% expansion in the number of companies and a near-3500% increase in the total valuation.

A unicorn has been created every week on average so far this year. But there’s a huge debate among tech entrepreneurs and among venture capitalists as to how sustainable it is. Some think the surge represents a new technological frontier being conquered, while others thing that over six years of zero interest rates have caused a bubble in the sector.

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