There’s been a lot of talk about tech “unicorns” recently.
Like the fictional animal, unicorn companies — tech startups with billion-dollar valuations — are supposed to be rare and magical.
Lately, though, tech’s unicorns have become rather common.
And now, Fortune’s Dan Primack reports, there’s even a venture capital firm dedicated to funding unicorn companies.
The China-based Unicorn Capital Partners has already raised $US12 million to fund tech companies in Asia, Primack says.
According to its LinkedIn page, Unicorn Capital Partners “focuses on investing and partnering with the leading and emerging venture capital fund managers at the start of the Age of the Unicorns.”
The term “unicorn” was first coined by Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee in a November 2013 TechCrunch post. At the time, Lee identified 39 of these unicorns, which were all US-based software companies founded in 2003 or later, with valuations from public or private market investors of $US1 billion or more.
Now, about a year and a half later, there are 100 unicorns, according to the Wall Street Journal’s “Billion-Dollar Club” list.
Some Silicon Valley investors have seen the increase in number of tech unicorns, the astronomical rise in startups’ valuations, and the amount of funding being raised by Silicon Valley startups as a sign of a looming tech bubble, possibly mirroring the dot-com bubble of the late 90s and early 2000s.
Back then, the tech bubble of the late ’90s produced a number of flash-in-the-pan internet companies that raised millions — often in public offerings — only to flame out a year or two later.
Recently, a handful of investors — including Benchmark’s Bill Gurley and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman — have voiced their concerns about the current state of venture capital funding. In a tweetstorm in February, Altman warned startups that they need to keep their burn rates low. High startup burn rates are one measure investors have used to determine whether or not tech-bubble talk is real.
At a SXSW keynote this year, Gurley warned that “a complete absence of fear” in Silicon Valley had led venture-capital firms to take big risks on tech companies. Those companies could face a turn in the market in the near future. “I do think you’ll see some dead unicorns this year,” he said.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.