The Hurun Research Institute has released the inaugural Hurun Global Unicorn List 2019, a ranking of the world’s billion-dollar tech ‘start-ups’ founded in the 2000s and not yet listed on a public exchange. This is the first year of the list, and follows from the sixth quarterly Hurun China Unicorn Index. Valuations are a snapshot as of 30 June 2019.

494 unicorns in all

Hurun Research found 494 unicorns in the world, based in 25 countries and 118 cities. Set up seven years ago on average, they are worth $3.4 billion on average and $1.7 trillion in total.

Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said: “We have found just under 500 unicorns in the world. The Hurun Global Unicorn List 2019 is designed to inspire entrepreneurship among wannabe entrepreneurs and encourage investors. These young companies, only seven years old on average, are the world’s most exciting start-ups, leading a new generation in disruptive technology.”

Anas Rahman Junaid, Chief Researcher, Hurun Global Rich List, told BusinessLine that China and the US dominate with over 80 per cent of the world’s known unicorns, despite representing only half of the world’s GDP and a quarter of the world’s population.

“India can quickly catch up with the ‘Big 2’, only if the regulatory and business environment are poised to capture the demographic dividend,” Junaid added.

The world’s unicorns are based in only 25 countries around the world, spread around 118 cities. China pipped the US to lead by 206 versus 203, and together they accounted for over 80 per cent of the world’s unicorns. Europe has 35 unicorns.

India ranked third

India was placed third with 21 unicorns, led by payments solutions platform One97 Communications ($10 billion) and followed by cab aggregator Ola Cabs ($6 billion); online educator Byju’s ($6 billion) and travel-stay finder OYO Rooms ($5 billion).

The UK was fourth with 13, led by health and beauty online retailing platform The Hut Group ($5 billion). Interestingly, the UK has more unicorns than Germany and France combined.

By city, Beijing is the world’s unicorn capital with 82, comfortably ahead of San Francisco with 55, which is followed by Shanghai, New York and Hangzhou. As a region, Silicon Valley leads the world with 102 or 21 per cent of the world’s unicorns.

E-commerce and fintech make up 31 per cent of the world’s unicorns, followed by Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The world’s unicorns span 25 industries, with the ‘Big 5 Industries’ making up half of the total.

According to Hurun Report Chairman Hoogewerf, these are the industries disrupting the world economy, initiating the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and widely considered to hold the key to the future. It is perhaps not surprising then, that much of the world’s top young talent wants to work in these sectors.

E-Commerce Sector

Whilst Amazon may have grown to become the world’s leading e-commerce platform, there are plenty of start-ups that are competing in this space, according to Hurun Research.

South Korea’s largest online retailer Coupang, US online marketplace Wish and CARS from China lead the industry with a $9 billion valuation, followed by China’s Meicai and Indonesia’s Tokopedia ($7 billion). The total value of all the e-commerce unicorns in the world is $147.5 billion, or 9 per cent of the total value of the club.

Financial technology

Fintech is revolutionising the world financial sector and disrupting the calm demeanour of long-established banks. The most valued FinTech unicorn is Ant Financial ($150 billion). It is followed by online wealth management platforms Lufax ($38 billion) and Stripe ($23 billion). FinTech dominates with $376 billion or 22 per cent of the total value of all unicorns.

Cloud computing

The Cloud industry comes third with 7 per cent of the unicorns in the list. The top cloud computing companies are US-based enterprise software company Infor ($50 billion) and IoT solutions provider Samsara Networks ($4 billion), followed by Australia-based Canva ($3 billion); Confluent ($3 billion); and Rubrik ($3 billion). The total value of all Cloud unicorns is $116 billion.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This segment boasts a total of 40 unicorns or 8 per cent of the global list. Top AI companies are US-based self-driving automation developer Argo AI ($7 billion) and robotics company UiPath ($7 billion), followed by China-based SenseTime ($6 billion) and Megvii ($4 billion). The total value of all the AI unicorns is $81 billion.


This has 34 unicorns led by China-based Cainiao ($19 billion) and San Francisco-based DoorDash ($13 billion), followed by JD Logistics ($12 billion) and Go-Jek ($10 billion). These unicorns make up 6 per cent of the global list and their combined valuation comes to $108 billion.

Health technology

Healthtech ranks sixth with 27 or 5.4 per cent of the unicorns. The industry mostly caters to providing healthcare services or financing assistance with the help of technology.

With its own online healthcare ecosystem, PingAn Healthcare Technology is the most valuable at $9 billion. Next on the list are Hangzhou-based WeDoctor, an online healthcare outfit at $6 billion, and United Imaging ($4 billion).

Media & Entertainment

This sector accounts for 24 unicorns. The most valued in the sector is ByteDance ($75 billion), followed by China-based Kuaishou ($18 billion). Other interesting entries include Reddit ($3 billion) and Deezer ($1 billion). The total value of all the unicorns in this industry comes to $149 billion.

Shared economy

This segment is at the eighth spot with 22 unicorns, and the total value of industry’s unicorns comes to $193 billion. The sector is led by Beijing-based mobile transportation platform Didi Chuxing ($55 billion). Online marketplace Airbnb ($38 billion) comes second followed by American shared workspaces company WeWork ($30 billion).

Life sciences

Ranked at the 10th place with 18 unicorns, or just under 4 per cent of the unicorns, life sciences is led at the top by bio-pharmaceutical company Samumed ($12 billion), followed by genome sequencing start-up Grail ($8 billion), and Roivant Sciences ($7 billion).

Apart from Grail, Tempus ($3 billion), Oxford Nanopore Tech ($2 billion), 23andMe ($2 billion) and 10X Genomics ($1 billion) are start-ups actively involved in the gene-sequencing space. The total value of all biotech unicorns is $57 billion or about 3 per cent of the total.