Unicorn watch: seven new US startups worth over $1bn in November
Unicorn companies are privately held startups with a market valuation of US$1bn. According to CB Insights, there are more than 260 unicorn companies in the world, with 85 companies achieving unicorn status in 2018, eight of which were in November. With the exception of $4bn Chinese unicorn Horizon Robotics, all the new unicorns in November are from the US.
Business Chief takes a look at the new members of one of the world’s most-exclusive groups. According to Business Insider, “in the U.S. alone, there are currently 19,550 venture-backed startups vying for those same massive valuations. At the same time, it's been estimated that each new startup only has a 0.00006% chance of becoming a billion dollar company.”
Asana - 11/29/2018
Started by Facebook co founder Dustin Moskovitz in 2008, Asana is a work management software company that reached a valuation of $1.5bn in 2018 after a decade-long struggle to take off. "It's really nice to cross over that concrete mark," Moskovitz told Business Insider this month. “But ultimately it's just a milestone on the way to something much bigger. The market opportunity in front of us is gigantic. We're still just getting started."
Airtable - 11/15/2018
Valued at $1.1bn, Airtable is a software company that turns “what seems like just a normal spreadsheet into a robust database tool, hiding the complexity of what's happening in the background while those without any programming experience create intricate systems to get their work done.” The company is based in San Francisco and has over 30 investors, including Caffeinated Capital, CRV and Founder Collective.
Service Titan - 11/14/2018
Based in Glendale, California, ServiceTitan uses a “mobile, cloud-based software platform that helps home service companies streamline operations, improve customer service, and grow their business. ServiceTitan's end-to-end solution for the multi-billion-dollar residential home services industry includes CRM, intelligent dispatch, comprehensive reporting, marketing management tools, mobile solution for field techs, and QuickBooks integration.” The company was valued at $1bn this month and its principal investors include: Bessemer Venture Partners, ICONIQ Capital and Battery Ventures.
Sweetgreen - 11/13/2018
Sweetgreen is a fast-casual restaurant chain based in Washington DC. Founded in 2007, the startup achieved unicorn status this month with a valuation of $1bn. Its principal investors include Red Sea Ventures, Fidelity Investments and Revolution.
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Netskope - 11/13/2018
Cloud access cybersecurity startup Netskope provides “discovery, deep visibility, and granular control of sanctioned and unsanctioned cloud apps” through its Netskope Active platform, allowing IT departments to “protect sensitive data, and ensure compliance in real-time, on any device, including native apps on mobile devices and whether on-premises or remote, and with the broadest range of deployment options in the market”. The company is valued at $1bn and its principal investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Social Capital and Accel.
TripActions - 11/8/2018
Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, TripActions is a business-oriented travel management service that “offers an end-to-end solution that combines booking technology, an inventory of travel options and a 24/7 customer support infrastructure.” The startup is valued at $1bn and its principal investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Zeev Ventures.
Zume Pizza - 11/1/2018
Operating an on-demand automated pizza delivery service in Mountain View, California, Zume Pizza provides “an end-to-end, scalable platform that reduces the time and distance between clean food sources and dense population centers, using automation and transportation logistics.” Valued at $2.25bn, Zume Pizza is the most-valuable company to achieve unicorn status in November. Its principal investors include Japanese banking organization, Softbank Group, as well as AME Cloud Ventures and SignalFire.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.