A company, usually a tech start-up, without an established performance record, but with a stock market valuation estimated at more than $1 billion.
Once upon a time, back in the days of tech industry yore — that is to say, 2013 — Aileen Lee, a tech venture capitalist and founder of Cowboy Ventures in Palo Alto, wanted to know how realistic it was to find and invest in a tech startup that would eventually gain a valuation of $1 billion. She found that in 2013, just 0.07 percent of venture-backed companies hit this mark — a total of only 39 companies worldwide. She called them members of The Unicorn Club. As of March 2017, the club has exploded: According to TechCrunch.com, there are now 234 unicorn companies with a total valuation of $832.8 billion. (Of course, in true tech industry excess, unicorn has already quickly become outdated: “Decacorn” is reserved for the rarified few who reach the $10 billion valuation mark, and hilariously, Canadian tech unicorns are referred to as “narwhals.”)
The biggest mistake people make, AngelHack Chief Marketing Officer Brian Collins says, is to call your company a unicorn when it’s clearly not.
“That happens all the time,” he says. “It’s a really easy way to discredit yourself in front of investors.” It is possible though to be considered a unicorn without actually reaching the valuation requirement, Collins says. This is especially true if the company is from an area not well-known for tech unicorns — like Sacramento — and is very near to the $1 billion valuation. Collins points to Trilio as an example — a data recovery and backup company in Hopkinton, Mass., about an hour outside of Boston. Their offices are not based in a tech hub, it’s not at $1 billion yet but is very close, he says, and “what they do and the speed at which they do it” qualifies Trilio as a unicorn in his mind. But, Collins warns, your company is not a unicorn just because it’s worth more than others.
While it can be dangerous to use the term if you’re not yet a unicorn, he says, “It’s never dangerous to want to be a unicorn. That can cause a lot of buildup and excitement in your team. That’s the right mindset and you can be bold. Just be careful in calling yourself a unicorn when you’re not already one.”
Though Collins stays mum on the possibility of a Sacramento unicorn emerging anytime soon, he does say we’re in a prime mode for it. AngelHack ranks cities into four categories, with tech hubs like London, Singapore, Tel Aviv and San Francisco at the top of the list. Sacramento is on a level, he says, where there’s more capital in town than talent. “If everyone deployed their capital tomorrow, [Sacramento tech companies] would be overfunded,” he says. “That’s actually a good thing to develop a unicorn system.” That’s exactly where unicorns come from, Collins says.
If Sacramento wants a unicorn in town, then “we have to focus on talent — bringing in the right talent, and keeping it here,” he says. That’s a good goal to have though, because having one unicorn in town, “empowers and pushes their region further along in the economy,” he adds. In short, one unicorn breeds more. Prepare for a stampede.
Got a word thats been buzzing around your office? Tweet us @Comstocksmag with the hashtag #WhatstheBuzz
For this month’s column, I thought I’d reach out to people who made multi-tasking an artform and get them to explain how they so easily “pivot” from one task to another on a daily basis. But I found out that’s only one definition of pivot, and so I pivoted this column to another, more business-oriented version. (See what I did there?)
The word is overused, and overuse leads to misuse. (Misuse leads to annoyance, and then we’re at a place where no one even understands or cares what you mean.)
But “empower” is not just another piece of jargon to be casually tossed around:
To understand the definition of going viral, let’s borrow a phrase from former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart: You’ll know it when you see it
We’ll be hearing a whole lot of buzz about wage parity this year — in part because groundbreaking research conducted by New York University, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Haifa in Israel identifies flat-out gender bias as the elephant in the room affecting wage parity. This new study, titled “Occupational Feminization and Pay,” is the single most comprehensive study on wage parity in the U.S. to date.
Ideation is the process of generating new ideas through open-minded brainstorming. Ideation is exciting, it’s creative, and it’s a great teambuilding activity.
Generally speaking, an ecosystem describes how different, complex organisms work together. How could a deeply biological term have invaded the usually-technical jargon of business? According to Google Trends, searches for “business ecosystem” and “innovation ecosystem” first entered the lexicon in the late ’90s and hit a peak within the last year.
There’s a whole lot of buzz lately about authenticity: authentic leadership styles, authentic brands, authentic values, authentic marketing and advertising … and on and on. By definition, something is authentic if it is genuine, real, of unquestionable origin, not faked or copied, verifiable and trustworthy.
Engaged employees are pivotal to an organization’s financial success, company culture, brand experience and ability to retain top talent. But according to Gallup’s most recent polls, only 31.5 percent of U.S. employees are actively engaged at work, and disengaged employees currently outnumber actively engaged employees 2 to 1.
While we primarily talk about sustainability in terms of environmental impact, the principles of sustainability apply just as much to our social and economic ecology.
So while the word — and the practice — might make you roll your eyes, playing hardball can be useful and even necessary when the stakes are high. But please, use sparingly both verbally and in action.