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Unicorns Vs. Dinosaurs - Who Wins in the Debate Over Growth Versus Profitability

Chris BerryComment

By Chris Berry (@cberry1)

For a PDF of this note, please click here.

Ed. Note: This piece was originally submitted to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence in late August 2016 which may explain why some of the data is off. It was recently officially published in their magazine which is why I am now putting it on this site.

 

 

“Getting to profitability is the only way to build a sustainable business…”

-UBER CEO Travis Kalanick in response to UBER’s merger with Didi Chuxing

 

As convergence across industries continues apace and business models evolve, Mr. Kalanick’s statement above is a reminder to investors in early stage companies. As startups across various industries attain unicorn status – a valuation of at least USD $1 billion - the argument around growth at all costs versus profitability has become louder. There are over 170 unicorns in existence today, so the hunt for the “next big thing” is indeed on. With an abundance of cheap capital looking for yield, many investors appear to have set aside a preference for profitability in favor of parabolic growth. Here are the 20 largest unicorns (all privately held):