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Binance, Coinbase, and Ripple among blockchain’s 11 unicorns

The Hurun Report reveals that there are 11 blockchain unicorns in 2019 making up 2% of total value, but is that a good sign?

According to the Hurun Report of Global Unicorns for 2019, there are now 494 unicorns globally, 11 of which belong to the blockchain industry. Behemoth exchanges the likes of Coinbase and Binance make the cut, as well as blockchain payments firm Ripple, and Circle Internet Financial. 

Despite the savage start to the year and the thwarted Bitmain IPO, the Chinese cryptocurrency mining firm still found a place on the list, alongside rivals Canaan and Ebang (who also failed to take their companies public this year).

494 global unicorns according to the Hurun Report

The Hurun report compiles a list of tech companies with valuations of over $1 bn. They must be start-ups founded in the 2000s and not be listed on any public exchange. Interestingly, the Hurun report data differs from research firm CB Insights, which places the global unicorn club at just 410. 

Notably, according to CB Insights, Binance, Ripple, Ebang, Canaan, EOS maker Block.one, and Dfinity do not make the grade. Coinbase, Circle Internet Financial, Bitmain, BitFury, and Liquid Global do. 

This could be something to do with the methodology behind valuing companies or the fact that the Hurun report had a cut-off date of 30 June 2019, while CB Insights is ongoing.

China leads the way in terms of mythical beasts

Of all the unicorns, China and the USA account for more than 80%. China leads the way (narrowly) with 206, beating the US’s 203 by a whisker. Europe has a total of 35 unicorns.

In terms of industries producing the most mythical creatures in the business world, e-commerce leads the way, followed closely by fintech. Other sectors doing particularly well are cloud, artificial intelligence, and logistics.

Is 11 unicorns in the blockchain space a good sign?

Well, it rather depends on your point of view. If you like to compare blockchain technology with other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, then, no. There are 40 unicorns in AI this year. However, artificial intelligence arguably goes as far back as the 1940s and 50s, while blockchain has just one decade under its belt.

It should also be pointed out that the cryptocurrency space hasn’t exactly had it easy over the last couple of years. At its giddy heights in December 2017, there were some 33 cryptocurrencies with a market cap north of $1bn. Today, there are only 10.

Moreover, Bitmain may be still in the list but it’s also seen plenty of zeros shaved off its valuation. In August 2018, it was valued at $18bn and set to be one of the world’s largest IPOs in history. Then the bear market began to take hold in earnest and demand decreased for its mining hardware. The company now has a valuation of $12bn.

Blockchain unicorns contribute just 2% of the entire value of all 494 unicorns. That said, with 11 unicorns, blockchain still ranks higher than some major areas including video games, new energy, and cybersecurity.

The jury seems to be out on whether or not Ripple deserves unicorn status. Its own CEO Brad Garlinghouse recently admitted that its valuation was far short of $1bn, telling The Information that the company had around $305mn in the bank. This, he said, was equivalent to the company’s most recent valuation.

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