The concept of unicorn enterprises was originally introduced by American venture capitalist Aileen Lee in 2013. It primarily defines startups that are less than 10 years, have a valuation of over USD 1 billion, and have not yet gone public.
Since its inception, this concept has become a focal point in the entrepreneurial world. Over the past decade, many globally renowned companies have been listed or once listed on various unicorn lists. Examples include China's Alibaba, Didi, DJI, as well as SpaceX, Stripe, and others from the United States. These companies have led their respective industries and spearheaded technological advancements on both national and global scales.
The technological innovations and revolutionary business models possessed by unicorn enterprises point to the direction of enhancing a country's overall competitiveness. They play a crucial guiding role in directing national industrial reforms and policy-making. Additionally, in the capital market, the potential unlimited value of unicorn enterprises is vital for the activity and growth of the investment landscape. Many investment institutions have grown and strengthened themselves while assisting these enterprises in rapid expansion and development. Therefore, the significance of unicorn enterprises is self-evident.
From "Unicorn" to "New Unicorns"
In 2023, a decade after the introduction of the "unicorn" concept, ChatGPT emerged and made a global impact, coinciding with the advent of a new wave of artificial intelligence, driving inevitable technological transformations. Intense competition for computing power, the counter-trend growth of new energy vehicles, and the rise of emerging markets. Economic and industrial upgrading on a global scale has come back into the spotlight following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This change is also reflected in the investment and financing landscape. According to data from 2022, the number of investment and financing events in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, artificial intelligence, automotive, hardware, and new energy surpassed that of representative industries from the past decade, such as mobile internet, e-commerce, the IoT, and big data. The industries represented by "hard tech" have gained favor in terms of investments.
The worldwide economic and industrial transformation exploration has presented Chinese enterprises with limitless opportunities and challenges. As a business think tank deeply engaged in global expansion, EqualOcean believes that, in the context of industrial transformation, the meaning represented by "unicorns" needs to be enriched and revised. Evaluating companies solely based on "valuation" and "age" should be expanded to include factors such as the industry direction represented by the enterprise, the level of policy support, and the degree of globalization. The evaluation of "new unicorns" needs to be put on the agenda and put into practice.
Therefore, with a new vision, EqualOcean will release the "2023 China New Unicorns" report during the "Global Expansion Forum" in Shanghai in November. The report introduces the concept of "new-type unicorns" and adopts new criteria to select a group of outstanding enterprises from China that represent the future of Chinese and global industrial development. The report will interpret and analyze the overall development status, benchmark enterprise cases, and development trends of these "new-type unicorns."
The report will use desktop research, customer surveys, and other research methods to outline the development landscape of "new unicorns." The final list of selected "new unicorns" will be determined through collective evaluations by the EqualOcean research team and industry experts. The report aims to help enterprises, investment institutions, and service organizations in different industries understand benchmark enterprises in the new economic landscape, learn from advanced business models and technologies, grasp the direction of macro-industrial development, explore new growth points, and provide objective and important reference information for companies. It also serves as a standard for different levels of government to understand potential enterprises in their respective regions, promoting the scientific and precise formulation of policies and assisting new unicorn enterprises in growing and strengthening.
The selection criteria for "new unicorns" are as follows:
· The company was founded no more than ten years ago (from 2013 onwards) and has a valuation of over USD 500 million. It should be an unlisted enterprise that has received financing in the past five years.
· The company is registered in mainland China or its primary business operations are in mainland China.
· The company's main business is driven by "new technology" or "new business models" and represents the direction of industrial transformation in the era of new economy.
· The company has a good operating and reputational status, with no major negative risks in its development.
Through the selection of "new unicorns," EqualOcean hopes to demonstrate our understanding of the future direction and prospects of industrial transformation to the outside world. Moreover, we aim to connect governments, enterprises, and investment institutions through this report, contributing our efforts to China's enterprises as they embark on global expansion in the next phase.
Nominate or recommend companies for inclusion in the report by clicking the link or scan the WeChat QR code below for inquiries related to the report.