There are many ways to measure the success of a startup. Profitability, value, how many people use the service or buy the product. One club that includes the cream of the crop is the “Unicorn Club,” those startups that are valued at over a billion dollars.
But what about the speed in which startups get unicorn status? While it doesn’t mean they will remain successful for life, it does prove that at one point they caught the proverbial lightning in a bottle.
Here are the top 10 fastest billion-dollar startups in history:
10. The Webvan Group – 2.56 Years
A clear example of having a billion dollar idea that everyone could get behind, but that wasn’t sustainable over the long haul was Webvan. It was one of the first online grocery delivery services. Its downfall came from building its infrastructure from scratch and trying to take on the whole country too soon. Today it is a relic of the dot-com collapse though Amazon has tried to revive it as a more traditional dry foods store.
9. Pinterest – 2.46 Years
Pinterest came along at just the right time, following a slew of social media and app-based successes. It’s a simple idea, allowing users to “pin” photos for art projects or shopping wish lists, but with over 50 million active users it’s proven addictive and has lived up to its valuation.
8. Hangzhou Kuaidi – 2.43 Years
Hangzhou Kuaidi was smart. It saw the success of the Uber driver service in the US and Europe and quickly replicated it for the Chinese market. Now it has over 200 million users and is valued at $6 billion.
7. Twitter – 2.32 Years
Considered the king of social media alongside Facebook, Twitter took the status update concept and stripped everything else away. What emerged was a fast-paced, real-time social experience that the world has embraced.
6. Yello Mobile – 2.28 Years
Not known to most people because it’s based in Korea, Yello Mobile went with a diversified portfolio of 71 mCommerce, marketing, and related startups that have collectively risen to prominence in the region.
5. Calient Technologies – 2.02 Years
Emerging in 2001 Calient is one of those companies you don’t hear about because it’s doing things in the background. However, in its role of supplying data centers and cloud networks with technology, it finds itself integral in the entire web based world.
4. Xiaomi – 1.71 Years
While giant Western companies like Apple have turned to China to manufacture their smartphones, Xiaomi decided it would make its own and market them at an affordable price to their own enormous population. The result? A valuation of $46 billion, the second largest unicorn in the world behind Uber.
3. Akamai Technologies – 1.58 Years
Another one of those backend companies that nobody really knows about, but with 30% of all web traffic going through Akamai’s content delivery network it is big business! Launched back in October 1999 it is now valued at $13 billion.
2. Groupon – 1.46 Years
Who doesn’t like discounts? That simple truth has allowed Groupon to emerge as a $2.82 billion dollar company. Sure it’s lost some steam in recent years and has been criticized by store and restaurant owners for not really being a good deal for them, but businesses keep singing up and users keep getting bargains.
1. Slack – 1.25 Years
The fastest billion-dollar startup in history is Slack and was only founded in 2013. The freemium community software is used by remote workers and teams to stay connected and organize, but has expanded to become somewhat of a spiritual successor to message boards and chat rooms.
To learn more about the wider startup landscape, the best startup hubs in the world, and many surprising facts, check out the new infographic from Coupofy.