Illustration by Jeremy Enecio for Fortune
By Erin Griffith
December 30, 2015

Early in 2015, Fortune deemed tech’s current boom “The Age of Unicorns,” citing the proliferation of startups valued at $1 billion or more.

We wondered if those good times might be nearing an end.

But throughout the year, so-called startup unicorns continued to rise, even as signs of impending doom did, too. It created a contradictory year of headlines with no clear narrative. The venture capitalists’ warnings about “dead unicorns” were louder than ever, the cash burns were higher than ever, and at times it felt like public scorn of Silicon Valley peaked. Just when it looked like the bubble was about to burst, another wave of startups raised money at billion-dollar valuations. Everyone shrugged and continued on their high growth trajectory as normal. Even today, VC’s still can’t agree whether we’re in a tech bubble, let alone what to do about it.

Below, a roundup of the most notable twists and turns in the world of high stakes, high growth, highly paradoxical startups in 2015.


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