The morbid reality for most tech unicorns

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Even the most bullish backers don’t expect many billion-dollar valued startups to survive


Unicorns are seemingly everywhere across the tech industry nowadays.

The number of startup companies with valuations north of $1 billion has skyrocketed in recent years, headlined by companies like Uber being valued most recently at $62.5 billion with its latest $2.1 billion series C round, AirBNB at $25 billion and Snapchat valued at $16 billion.

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NPR member station WBUR’s OnPoint took a deep look at unicorns and a possible tech bubble this week. New York Times columnist Nick Bilton says valuations are “completely out of whack” and are “coming out of thin air.”

There’s a dirty little secret though about so-called unicorns though: Even their most ardent supporters don’t believe all these unicorns can survive. All the VCs want is for a handful of them to pay off – and pay off big. As for the rest? Well, they can go to unicorn la-la land.

“The nature of venture capital and venture investment is that some companies are going to work and some aren’t,” said famed investor Marc Andreessen, making the point that all VCs need are for a couple of them to “take off” and they’ll recoup their investments.

With all the talk of tech startup unicorns disrupting the stalwart IT vendors – even the VC backers don’t believe all of them will make it. Obviously the multi-billion dollar obvious question that no one knows the answer to is just which select unicorns will survive?

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