16 European unicorns you should know about
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Cand Crush in motion. Photo Credit: King

Geektime looks at some of the companies located outside the U.S. that have made it to the $1 billion unicorn club.

In a November 2013 TechCrunch post titled “Welcome To The Unicorn Club,” Aileen Lee from Cowboy Ventures defined the term ‘unicorn’ as a company with a public or private market valuation of more than $1 billion. Since then, the term invaded the startup community lexicon and companies with more than $1 billion valuations are being commonly referred to as “unicorns.”

However, TechCrunch’s list focused mainly on companies from Silicon Valley and did not include any company from outside the U.S. As various startup scenes are emerging globally, with Germany, Lithuania, Thailand and even Gaza as great examples, we would like to take a look at some of the companies from the rest of the world that made it to the unicorn club.

While this post is focused on Europe (we decided also to include Israel in this list since it’s an OECD country and is relatively close to Europe), the second part will cover Asia & Oceania, Russia and Canada.



1. Criteo

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Criteo

Founded  2005
Funding – Market valuation at IPO last year: $1.6 billion
Founders  Franck le Ouay, Jean-Baptiste Rudelle and Romain Niccoli
Sector – AdTech
Overview – Started in Paris, Criteo is a global leader in performance based display advertising. Criteo tracks user activity on desktop, mobile, and social sites to help advertisers reach and engage potential customers. The company’s software spots hesitant shoppers who have left the advertiser’s website without making a purchase, and sends them tailored ads personalized with the products they were searching for online.

Criteo was one of the first AdTech startups to master personalization, and has reaped the awards of being a forward thinker.

2. Vente-Privée

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Vente-Privee

Founded – 2001
Funding – Market valuation at $3 billion
Founders  CEO Jacques-Antoine Granjon and seven other partners
Sector – E-commerce
Overview  Vente-privee.com is an invite-only e-commerce retailer, focusing on exclusive designer brand sales and insider discounts for its members. It was the first company to use the online flash sale business model to help brands sell their overstock inventory without harming the brand’s reputation.

Today, vente-privee.com reaches more than 19 million members in eight European countries and has partnerships with more than 1,500 prominent international brands, making it one of the largest private online companies in Europe. It officially entered the unicorn club in 2010, thanks in part to Summit Partners’ 20% acquisition in 2007.




Photo Credit: PR

Photo Credit: JUST EAT

Founded – 2001
Funding – Market capitalization of $2.44 billion
Founders  Henrik Østergaard, Christian Frismodt, Jesper Buch, Per Meldgaard
Sector  Food and drink
Overview  JUST EAT is an online food ordering service where customers search for their favorite local takeaway restaurants and place orders, with options for pickup or delivery. To use the service, restaurants pay upon registration to the platform, while JUST EAT also charges a commission of 10 to 12 percent on each order made through the platform.

It rose to prominence as one of the first startups to integrate restaurants into a shared online ordering platform. And with mobile surging, well, you can imagine how relevant JUST EAT’s technology has become. On April 3, in one of the biggest technology IPOs in the UK (it relocated to London in 2006), JUST EAT debuted on the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of £1.47 billion ($2.44 billion).


Estonia / Luxembourg

4. Skype

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Skype

Founded – 2003
Funding – Market valuation as of 2011: $8.5 billion
Founders  Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis
Sector – Telecom
Overview  Skype, one of the world’s most popular voice over IP (VoIP) services, made free computer-to-computer calls and low-rate calls from computers to telephones a reality. The service is available in 27 languages and has more than 600 million global users, with an average of 4.9 million active users each day.

In September 2005, eBay acquired Skype and four years later, sold 65% of the company to Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $1.9 billion, valuing the company at $2.75 billion. In 2011, Microsoft acquired the entire business for $8.5 billion.


5. Rovio Entertainment

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Rovio

Founded – 2003
Funding  Market valuation at $4B
Founders  Kim Dikert, Jarno Väkeväinen, Niklas Hed
Sector – Gaming and entertainment
Overview  Rovio Entertainment is best known for creating the insanely popular Angry Birds video game franchise, which is now part of our collective consciousness. The Angry Birds game became a huge international phenomenon within a few months of its release in December 2009 and is still the number one downloaded paid app of all time on Apple’s app store.

Following its great success in the mobile gaming industry, Angry Birds started to expand rapidly into the entertainment, publishing, and licensing areas, becoming a famous brand worldwide. Rovio’s new ToonsTV channel surpassed more than one billion views in its first seven months and an animated Angry Birds feature film is planned for July 2016.


6. Supercell

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Supercell

Founded – 2010
Funding – Market valuation at $3 billion
Founder  Ilkka Paananen
Sector – Gaming
Overview  Founded by veteran mobile game developer Ilkka Paananen in June 2010 in Helsinki, Finland, Supercell is a mobile game development company mostly known for its “Clash of Clans” and “Hay Day” mobile games. Both of these games are freemium and have been very successful. Even though they were created by teams of only half a dozen developers, they generated a revenue of $2.4 million a day during 2013. In 2014, Supercell released the Boom Beach game on iOS and Android.

Backed by Accel Partners and London Venture Partners (LVP), the company was valued at $3 billion in October 2013. At the same time, the Japanese Internet giant SoftBank Corp. acquired 51% of Supercell, which only had 130 employees at the time.


7. Mobileye

Photo Credit: Screenshot

Photo Credit: Mobileye

Founded – 1999
Funding – Market valuation at $10.88 billion
Founders Professor Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram
Sector – Hardware
Overview  Mobileye develops vision-based driver assistance technologies to help drivers avoid potential accidents on the road. The technology is based on optical vision systems along with motion detection algorithms that can work in both day and night time conditions and recognize motor vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other potential obstacles.

Mobileye is principally competing against Google in the space of driverless technology. But unlike Google, whose solutions can run upwards of tens of thousands of dollars in equipment, Mobileye’s solution consists of nothing more than a camera and a chip, and only costs several hundred dollars.

In August 2014, in the largest Israeli issue ever on Wall Street, Mobileye raised $890 million in its first few days on the New York Stock Exchange, with a market capitalization of $7.85 billion. Prior to the IPO, Mobileye raised a total of $515 million from different investors, including a $400 million financing round in July 2013 that gave the company a market value of $1.5 billion, marking the company’s entry to the unicorn club.


8. Waze

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Waze

Founded – 2007
Funding – Market valuation at $1.15 billion
Founders Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine
Sector – Mobile, Social Media
Overview  Waze is a crowdsourced social traffic and navigation mobile app where drivers share real-time road information. Besides the regular turn-by-turn voice navigation and real-time traffic alerts, Waze simultaneously sends anonymous information, including users’ speed and location, back to its database to improve the company’s service. This ‘traffic crowdsourcing’ allows the Waze community to report navigation and mapping errors and traffic accidents simply by running the app while driving as usual. 

After various rumors emerged that Facebook and other companies were trying buying the company, on June 11, 2013, in one of the largest mobile acquisitions in history, Google bought Waze for $1.15 billion. The main reason for the acquisition, according to Google, was to add a social data aspect to its mapping business while enhancing Waze with Google’s search capabilities.



9. Klarna

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Klarna

Founded – 2005
Funding – Market valuation at $1.4 billion
Founders  Victor Jacobsson, Sebastian Siemiatkowski and Niklas Adalberth
Sector – E-commerce
Overview  Klarna was founded in Stockholm to simplify the online transactions process by letting the consumer receive goods first and pay afterwards. To make this a safe process for the buyers, Klarna assumes all credit and fraud risks.

Klarna has had several interesting mergers and acquisitions: In spring 2011, Klarna acquired Analyzd, an Israeli risk analysis company, while opening the company’s seventh office in Tel Aviv, Israel. After joining forces with SOFORT and forming the Klarna Group in 2014, Klarna has become one of Europe’s fastest growing companies.


10. Spotify

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Spotify

Founded – 2006
Funding – Market valuation at $4 billion
Founders  Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon
Sector – Music
Overview  Spotify provides a music streaming service that has restricted digital content from various record labels and artists. Its more than 40 million users worldwide can also create, share, and edit playlists with other spotify users. With Spotify’s paid “Premium” subscription (which has 10 million subscribers), users can remove the advertisements and download music for listening when offline. 

In 2011, Spotify secured $100 million in a Series D funding round to support the company’s U.S. launch. Spotify entered the unicorn club during this round of funding, with a valuation of $1 billion. Spotify’s last funding round of $250 million from Technology Crossover Ventures in November 2013 valued the company at $4 billion.



11. Zalando

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Zalando

Founded – 2008
Funding – Market valuation at IPO in 2014: $6.8 billion
Founders  Robert Gentz and David Schneider
Sector – E-commerce
Overview  Zalando, Europe’s biggest e-commerce fashion chain, specializes in selling clothes, shoes and other fashion and lifestyle products. The German company, which sold mostly footwear at the beginning, has expanded to offer its services to 13.5 million customers spanning 15 countries. Today, the company sells 1,500 different brands with net sales of €1.8 billion in 2013.

Critics of Zalando have said that the company is a European clone of U.S. retailer Zappos. This is not surprising considering Zalando was founded under the watch of Rocket Internet, which is known for copying American technology companies with proven business plans to other countries.


12. Delivery Hero

Delivery Hero. Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Photo Credit: Delivery Hero

Founded – 2011
Funding – Market valuation at $1 billion
Founders  Niklas Östberg, Claude Ritter, Markus Fuhrmann, Nikita Fahrenholz and Kolja Hebenstreit
Sector  E-commerce, Food and drinks
Overview  Delivery Hero is one of the world’s largest online food ordering networks, with more than 75,000 restaurants registered as partners. Rather than relying on telephone orders and flyer promotions, Deliver Hero offers restaurants an online ordering system instead, which saves them time and money. The customers, on the other hand, can search for restaurants and filter the results via cuisine, delivery distance, delivery time, payment options and customer reviews. Delivery Hero charges restaurants a small commission for every order.

Between August and September 2014, Delivery Hero had two significant deals: The company both secured a $350 million Series G funding round and acquired their competitor Pizza.de.


United Kingdom

13. Ocado

Photo Credit: PR

Photo Credit: Ocado

Founded – 2000
Funding – Market valuation at $4.8 billion
Founders  Jason Gissing, Tim Steiner and Jonathan Fairman
Sector – E-commerce
Overview  Ocado is an online grocery retailer whose delivery service reaches more than 70% of the country’s population, making the company the largest online grocery retailer in the world. Its specialty is in its technology: the company uses and builds various tools, from common business systems like supply chains and finance and employee systems, to e-commerce and mobile apps, all the way to “more exotic” items like robotics for its own warehouses use. In fact, none of company’s warehouse products are handpicked by humans.

Ocado was listed on the London Stock Exchange in July 2010 and despite a disappointing beginning – with nearly 15% of its shares out on loan – the company is now worth more than £3 billion and is one of the top performing corporate stocks in Europe.


14. Zoopla

Photo Credit: PR

Photo Credit: Zoopla

Founded – 2007
Funding – Market valuation at IPO in 2014: $1.56 billion
Founders  Alex Chesterman and Simon Kain
Sector – Real estate
Overview  Zoopla is one of the UK’s most-visited online property websites and provides customers with highly accurate housing estimates. Thanks to its award-winning website and rich property database, it has more than 20 million visits a month. Zoopla also leverages user-generated data to increase its property estimates’ accuracy.

Zoopla has acquired a number of companies, including Thinkproperty.com, PropertyFinder Group, Globrix.com, UpMyStreet.com, and after merging with the Digital Property Group, PrimeLocation.com. The company’s revenue comes mostly from around 19,000 real estate agents who pay a monthly subscription fee to advertise their listings on Zoopla.



15. Powa

Powa adverts. Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Powa advertisement. Photo Credit: Powa

Founded – 2007
Funding – Market valuation at $2.7 billion
Founders  Dan Wagner
Sector – E-commerce
Overview  Powa Technologies combines mobile e-commerce and Bluetooth geo-location data to enable shoppers the ability to purchase a product as soon as they see it on a billboard, screen advertisement, retail display or catalog, just by taking a picture of the item. Powa’s main technology, PowaTag, scans a code placed on websites, shops windows or advertisements and directs the shoppers to the checkout on their mobile phone.

Besides enabling merchants to attract customers by offering special promotions and enabling payments directly from ads in magazines and other media, Powa also collects and analyzes the customer’s purchasing data to help merchants understand the customer’s shopping habits and personal preferences as soon as they enter the store.

In June 2014, Powa acquired the Hong Kong based MPayMe in a $75 million deal. Prior to the acquisition, Powa raised a total of $176 million, including $76 million in a Series A round in August 2013, and a $80 million Series C round in November 2014.


16. King

Photo Credit: PR

Photo Credit: King

Founded – 2003
Funding – Market valuation at IPO last year: $7.08 billion
Founders  Riccardo Zacconi, Toby Rowland, Melvyn Morris, Thomas Hartwig, Sebastian Knutsson, Patrik Stymne, Lars Markgren
Sector – Gaming
Overview  King Digital Entertainment is a casual and social games development company with six game studios in London, Stockholm, Barcelona, Malmö and Bucharest, as well as offices in Malta and San Francisco. Even though the company has more than 180 titles in over 14 languages, most people will recognize King by its biggest hit: Candy Crush Saga, which has more than 90 million daily players. The game was first launched on King’s website in March 2011, followed by Facebook and mobile versions in 2012. In its first month, the mobile version was downloaded over 10 million times, overtaking the previous record of Angry Birds.

Besides developing games for the web and mobile (both Android and iOS), the company is also the largest game developer on Facebook. King’s games are available for free, with options for in-app-purchases.

On March 26, 2014, the company had the largest ever IPO for a gaming company in the U.S. Priced on average at $22.50 a share on the New York Stock Exchange, the IPO gave the company a value of $7.08 billion.

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