The pandemic certainly hasn’t hampered the flow of venture funding, and in 2021, private companies are ballooning in value.
Per CBInsights data, there are over 500 “unicorns,” or private companies worth over $1 billion, and roughly 30 “decacorns,” whose valuations are over $10 billion, as of February. Some industry experts like Bain Capital Ventures partner Enrique Salem argue, “There’s more demand than I’ve ever seen” for startups heading into 2021, as he told Fortune back in November.
Santosh Rao, head of research at Manhattan Venture Partners, says that this year, “you’re seeing a lot more funding for a smaller set of high growth companies in innovative sectors.” With interest rates expected to stay low for the foreseeable future, “VC funding is going to be very strong; liquidity is going to be very high, so the money is going to flow into these companies,” argues Rao.
Among those high-flying startups are Chinese firms including Sequoia-backed ByteDance (worth $180 billion, per PitchBook data, and the most valuable among those tracked by CBInsights), and Softbank-backed Didi Chuxing (worth $62 billion, per CBInsights).
But in the U.S., unicorns have been raking in cash in recent weeks and months. Here are the top five highest-valued venture-backed companies based in the States.
SpaceX ($74 billion)
Thanks to a new $850 million fundraising round, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is now the most valuable U.S.-based unicorn at a valuation of $74 billion, CNBC reported Tuesday (Sequoia led the round). That valuation is a big leap up from its last round in August, which valued the company at $46 billion. The rocket maker founded by Musk reportedly had “insane demand” for its latest funding, CNBC reported, which helped Musk reclaim his status as the wealthiest person on the planet (and, someday, likely Mars too).
None of that’s surprising to Manhattan Venture Partners’ Rao, who points out SpaceX’s “addressable market is huge,” including space tourism someday.
“You’ll always have some froth in there because people just want to jump on the bandwagon—so they’ll do whatever Elon Musk says. There’s a little bit of that,” says Rao. “But at the core of it, he’s showing results.”
Stripe ($36 billion)
Second to SpaceX is Stripe, the payments processing fintech most recently valued at $36 billion after an extended Series G round in April. But Stripe may be on track to surpass SpaceX: In late November, Bloomberg reported the startup was in early-stage talks to raise another round of funding that could value Stripe at $100 billion (though by some reports, the company is already being valued in the $100 billion range in the secondary market). That would make it the highest-valued U.S.-based startup.
Though the company hasn’t announced plans to go public, “reading the tea leaves,” says Manhattan Venture Partners’ Rao, “I’m on record saying they will do an IPO this year. The payment sector is hot, the digital space is hot, the fintech space is hot,” he says. “You want to get out when the space is hot.”
UiPath ($35 billion)
Robotic process automation software company UiPath ranks third, with a valuation of $35 billion thanks to a February Series F funding round to the tune of $750 million led by Coatue Management and Alkeon Capital Management, per PitchBook. What’s more: UiPath is on the road to going public after the company confidentially filed for an IPO in December, though it may opt for a direct listing.
Roblox ($29.5 billion)
Roblox, a video game designing platform, has raised a total of roughly $855.8 million in the private markets to earn a valuation of $29.5 billion, per PitchBook.
Like UiPath, Roblox is going public—through a direct listing. The company recently said it revised its revenues higher for the first three quarters of 2020 in an updated prospectus after miscalculated financial reporting, and plans to go public in March. (The company was eyeing December but amid the IPO mania of Airbnb and DoorDash, pushed it into 2021.)
Databricks ($28 billion)
Andreessen Horowitz–backed Databricks just raised a hefty $1 billion in February in a Series G round led by Franklin Templeton Investments, bringing its total valuation to $28 billion, per PitchBook. The company makes big data analytics software to process data in the cloud and recently announced a collaboration with Google Cloud. Databricks may debut in the public markets, possibly through a direct listing as well.
As a note, in a similar fashion to Stripe, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is reportedly being valued at over $100 billion on the Nasdaq Private Market, which would notch the company’s value just above SpaceX.