From startup to unicorn in a flash

Electric scooter companies Lime and Bird are only two of a slim group of startups to have grown to a $1 billion valuation in a short time.

This past June, startup Bird, which launched its electric scooter service in Santa Monica, California in September 2017 and was founded in a few months earlier in April 2017, became the fastest startup ever to become a unicorn.

The same month, another mobility startup, Lime entered the exclusive unicorn club after a large round of investments. The company, with its fleet of dockless bikes, electric bikes, and electric scooters, was founded in January 2017.

The previous title holder as fastest unicorn was Desktop Metal, a 3D metal printing company that hopes to make metal printing more accessible for manufacturers and engineers. Founded in 2015, it took 1 year and 9 months to become a unicorn.

Other fast unicorns include:

  • Cancer detection startup Grail, with investments from Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates;
  • Smartphone maker Essential Products, founded by Android creator Andy Rubin;
  • Letgo, an online marketplace for used goods;
  • Zoox, an autonomous driving car startup;
  • Katerra, a construction-supply company founded by Michael Marks, former interim CEO at Tesla;
  • Illumio, which provides a cloud-based data security service to businesses;
  • Grocery delivery service Instacart;
  • Opendoor, which lets homeowners list their houses for sale on its online real estate marketplace;
  • And even Airbnb, which was founded in 2008 and became a unicorn in less than 3 years.
(Image credits: Quartz)

Back in April, Priceonomics published a study according to which “out of the top 20 fastest growing unicorns, five are transportation sharing platforms (car and bike sharing), and one (WeWork) is in shared workspace. Other industries that top the list include trading platforms (Robinhood and Coinbase), eCommerce (Wish and Mercari), healthcare (iCarbonX and GRAIL), and cloud data analytics (Snowflake and Rubrik).