This week, messaging startup Kik became the latest privately held tech company to join the “unicorn” club of companies worth more than $US1 billion.
These days, that’s hardly news. At this chart from Statista shows, the number of unicorns has almost tripled since the beginning of 2014. Investors and entrepreneurs love to argue whether this indicates another tech bubble like we saw in 1999 and 2000, but the amount of money flowing into tech companies is less than half of what it was in 1999. The difference: companies are staying private a lot longer, so the only way investors can capture a big chunk of their rise in value is by investing in late stage funding rounds, leading to huge valuations. If they waited for an IPO, they might be waiting forever.