The number of 'unicorns' in tech is exploding -- here's a chart that shows one reason why

Instead of being a mythical rare sighting, more and more “unicorn” companies are joining the pasture filled by private companies with billion dollar-plus valuations.

The last quarter saw the most venture-backed companies ever achieve unicorn status, according to a new report from CB Insights, a global venture capital tracking firm.

A total of 24 companies reached the billion dollar mark in the second quarter of 2015, compared to only nine in the same quarter last year. There’s only 121 companies total on CB Insight’s unicorn list.

The growth in these highly-valued companies is thanks to the fact that more tech companies are opting not to go public, but to instead raise late-stage rounds of funding.

The rise in the unicorns is largely propelled by Asia, where nine companies of the 24 companies to join the list are founded.

The average late-stage deal in Asia is now more than $US200 million, compared to barely over $US50 million in North America and Europe in the last quarter. The average had reached as high as $US285 million in the last quarter of 2014 after a $US1.1 billion round raised by Xiaomi propelled the consumer electronics company to the top of the unicorn list.

CB InsightsCB InsightsThe spike during Q4 includes a $US1.1 billion funding round from Xiaomi.

Fuelled by cash, the unicorns have been breeding, but aren’t exiting the pen — and why would they, if they can raise the buckets of cash they need to stay alive?

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