ByteDance becomes world’s largest unicorn

TikTok owner ByteDance is the world’s largest unicorn with a market valuation of $353 billion (RMB 2.25 trillion), according to a unicorn ranking list from the Hurun Research Institute. Alibaba affiliates Ant Group and Cainiao take the second and ninth spots, respectively. They have valuations of $150 billion and $34 billion.

Why it matters

ByteDance, one of China’s top tech IPO candidates, has maintained growth, despite China’s tech crackdown and US sanctions this year. The firm’s valuation has more than tripled from $80 billion a year earlier. 

Details on ByteDance becoming world’s largest unicorn

The Hurun Research Institute released its Global Unicorn Index 2021. It is a ranking of startups valued at more than $1 billion and not yet listed on a stock exchange. “A unique feature of China’s startup ecosystem is the ability of big tech companies to spin off unicorns, with 49 of the world’s 50 ‘spun-off’ unicorns coming from China, such as Ant Group, spun off from Alibaba in 2014,” said Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf. Based in Shanghai and Oxford, England, Hoogewerf is also known by his Chinese name, Hu Run.

Compared to China’s tech giants, Hoogewerf said that global tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet are “not as active” as their China counterparts when it comes to investing in unicorns.

Screen Shot 2021 12 23 at 2.38.50 PM ByteDance becomes world’s largest unicorn

Other prominent Chinese firms that made the annual list include JD Technology, WeBank fintech services, fashion retailer Shein, Instagram-like lifestyle community Xiaohongshu, and drone maker DJI.

The report listed 1,058 unicorns worldwide, double the number since 2020. Hoogewerf calls 2021 the “most successful year for startups ever.” China now counts 301 unicorns or 28% of the global total. Most focus on e-commerce, healthcare, or artificial intelligence.

The total value of these unicorns is $3.7 trillion, or equivalent to the GDP of Germany, according to the report. 

The report named Sequoia Capital the most successful unicorn investor with investments in 206 unicorns in its portfolio. The US venture capital firm is followed by another US investor, Tiger Fund, and Japanese investor SoftBank. Chinese investors Tencent and Hillhouse occupy the eighth and the tenth positions, respectively, on the list. 

Photo of Alex


Alex is a seasoned editor and writer with a deep passion for technology and startups. With a background in journalism, content creation, and business development, Alex brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective to the ever-changing world of innovation. As the lead editor at Startup World, Alex is committed to discovering the hidden gems in the startup ecosystem and sharing these exciting stories with a growing community of enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and investors. Always eager to learn and stay updated on the latest trends, Alex frequently attends industry events and engages with thought leaders to ensure Startup World remains at the forefront of startup news and insights. Alex's dedication and expertise help create an engaging platform that fosters knowledge-sharing, inspiration, and collaboration among tech-savvy readers worldwide.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button