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How many European $billion+ tech companies are there

Never before in European tech so many companies reached unicorns status at such a high velocity. But the definition of unicorns (startup, not public, not acquired) can be limiting. In this report we look at the number companies that reached a $billion+ valuation since 1998, regardless of ownership status. The scope is Europe & Israel.

In the first six months of 2018, already 25 companies reached $billion+ valuations. That’s as many as in any other full calendar year. Out of these 25, there are 18 considered unicorns (private, not public, not acquired). An additional seven companies already were acquired in 2018 (e.g. iZettle, Exclusive Group) or are already public (e.g. On The Beach Holidays).

2018 is a breakout year for new $billion+ companies born

Since 1998, 152 companies in Europe & Israel reached $billion+ valuations (the fist one is ARM Group). Our analysis only includes companies founded after 1990 (thanks for Atomico’s Tom Wehmeier for the suggestion and help with data).

Out of these companies, 95 or 63% were venture backed. By comparison, in 2018 as much as 23 out of 25 new $billion+ companies (92%) were venture backed. This is a remarkable demonstation of the advent of European venture capital.

$billion+ companies in Europe since 1998

We previously reported that 13 out of Europe’s 34 unicorns are from the UK (roughly ~40%). That was a snapshot of the moment. In that same report we also added past $1B+ venture backed exits since 2010 (again the UK led with 38 unicorns). But what if we looked at a longer time-horizon and include companies that have no known VC backing? Then it provides the true capacity of a country’s ability to provide a platform where tech companies can scale. Again, the United Kingdom leads with 60 companies that have reached $billion+ valuations (42% of total including Europe & Israel), followed by Germany (13%) and Israel (9%).

$billion+ companies by country

Combined, these 152 companes have a value of $514 billion (average value per company of $3.4 billion). The UK’s 60 companies have a combined valued of $232 billion (45% of total), followed by Germany’s $66 billion (13%) and Israel’s $31 billion (6%).

The aggregate value of these companies founded after 1990 has continued to grow. Most of these have had very strong post IPO performance: Just Eat, Delivery Hero, Takeaway, Adyen, Spotify, Asos, Boohoo, Yoox. Perhaps this is an interesting analysis for another post.