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.
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”