Unicorns are mythical beasts, but it is also a term used to describe start-up companies that grow to valuations over $1 billion. Many of these companies get so big that they become public companies.
This year saw some of these unicorns such as Shopify and Square launch initial public offerings or IPO’s, but there are still several companies that could go public in 2016.
Uber, the personal transportation company favored by fashionistas and regular people alike is valued at $51 billion. Uber has been very coy about going public. It continues to raise more money for its war chest and as a private company can indulge in testing other services without causing an uproar from shareholders, such as delivering packages or food. The drawback for Uber is that it faces lots of labor and regulatory challenges as it disrupts the transportation industry. Investors may not be so sure of this company’s ability to fight city hall.
Lodging Web site Airbnb has a $27 billion valuation and has been rumored to be going public since 2014. The chief executive officer and cofounder Brian Chesky has said the company will only go public when it has a good reason. The company has been trying to re-brand itself with a new logo and wants to transition to a lifestyle brand. This type of change is more easily accomplished when there aren’t millions of shareholders with clamoring for a quick payoff to changes.
Indian e-tailer Flipkart was founded by two former employees of Amazon. It’s currently valued at $15 billion. The site sells nearly 10 products per minute and is aiming for $800 million in sales for 2015. The company filed to go public in 2014 in Singapore but never followed through. Flipkart is a little different from Amazon in that it has started its own products called Digiflip.
Snapchat is a photo and video messaging app that is also valued at $15 billion. The company is known for its messages that disappear in a short amount of time. The app began sending paid advertisements in 2014 when it saw a need to develop revenue for the service. Video ads on Snapchat are watched in their entirety nine times more than landscape video ads. Coca Cola’s first Snapchat campaign was called a disaster and leaked financial statements revealed the company lost more than $128 million in 2014. The company though has been making hires that point to an upcoming IPO.
The clean layout and pretty pictures of Web site Pinterest has led the brand to a $15 billion valuation. Users stay on the site for almost 30 minutes at a time, making it a desired piece of Web real estate for promotional ads. New action “Buy” buttons are a hit with advertisers, but the jury is still out as to whether it is leading to real purchases. Investors will also be focused on whether Pinterest can deliver real revenue for the site itself.