ByteDance Tops Hurun Unicorn Index 2021 with $350 Billion Valuation

The Hurun Research Institute, in association with the Guangzhou City Commercial Bureau and Huangpu District, released the Global Unicorn Index 2021 on Monday, a ranking of the world’s start-ups founded in the 2000s. The list includes companies that are worth at least a billion dollars and are not yet listed on a public exchange.

The cut-off date used for this list was 30 November 2021. Hurun Research found 1,058 unicorn companies this year, an increase of 472 over last year. Among them, the USA led with 487 unicorn startups, up 254, followed by China with 301, up 74. India surpassed Britain to rank third with 54, an increase of 33 over last year.

Beijing-based ByteDance is officially the world’s biggest unicorn, surging $270bn in value to $350bn; Hangzhou-based Ant Group lost its title of the world’s most valuable unicorn to ByteDance with a valuation of $150bn; SpaceX’s valuation increased by $64bn to $100bn, moving it up 2 places to third, becoming the largest unicorn in the United States.

On average, most of these companies were set up eight years ago, around 2013. Over three quarters of the companies, or about 81%, sell software and services, led by the financial technology industry, followed by software services, e-commerce and artificial intelligence. Only 19% of the companies sell physical products, and focus on biotechnology, health technology and consumer goods. Over half, about 53%, are directly for consumers, and 47% are B2B enterprises.

US unicorns are mostly involved with SaaS (Software as a service) and financial technology, whilst China’s are mostly in E-commerce and HealthTech.

In addition, among the 146 newly listed Chinese unicorn enterprises, 16 can be found on the Hurun China Gazelle Enterprise List from last year, such as WeRide, Hesai Technology, Black Sesame Technologies, etc.. Eleven other companies are also on Hurun’s China Cheetah Enterprise List from last year, such as Patpat and PingCAP.

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Sequoia kept its title as Number One Most Successful Unicorn Investor in the World, whilst Tiger Fund overtook Softbank to make up the ‘Big Three’ of the world’s most successful unicorn investors. Between them, the ‘Big Three’ invested in 50% of the world’s known unicorns. Insight Partners and Coatue broke into the Top 10 for the first time at the expense of IDG and Alibaba. When analysing the most successful investors of Chinese unicorns, Sequoia was still first, followed by Hillhouse, IDG Capital, Tencent and CICC.