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PitchBook Analyst Note: Unicorns Defining the New Norm

Q3 2021

PitchBook Analyst Note: Unicorns Defining the New Norm

September 28, 2021

PitchBook Analyst Note: Unicorns Defining the New Norm
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Europe’s unicorns are multiplying—and it could have major implications for VC

The rapid rise of unicorns in Europe underscores the changing nature of venture capital on the continent. Since the start of 2018, European unicorns have grown threefold in number and sixfold in aggregate value, surpassing €253 billion. That stampede has been a major force behind the broken records of 2021.

Our new analyst note explores the forces driving such skyrocketing growth among the continent's most valuable venture-backed companies—and what that means for the future of Europe’s venture ecosystem.

Key takeaways

  • Nontraditional investors, including financial institutions such as PE firms, hedge funds, investment banks, and corporate VC investors, have been a major force behind the emergence of unicorns and shattered European records.
     
  • The chief unicorn producing nations in Europe are the UK, France, and Germany, but unicorns are also beginning to appear in emerging ecosystems such as Lithuania, Estonia, and the Netherlands.
     
  • Despite some concerns over claims of enormous valuation step-ups—given the opaque nature of private markets, including VC—several unicorns are valued among the largest companies in their respective sectors.