What a week. Democracy is still standing and the nation is getting back to work, so let’s press forward, even if it does feel surreal to cover business news after witnessing a live-streamed coup attempt.

Setting aside the tectonic political moment, there’s plenty of activity inside the world of startups we need to discuss.

The pace at which new unicorns are being announced feels incredibly rapid, possibly implying that private-market investors anticipate exit valuations will remain high, and that a venture market that tilted late-stage will continue its bias in this new year.

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Regular readers will recall that as 2020 wrapped up, we noted that “new unicorn formation continue[d] to impress.” That late-2020 trend is becoming a 2021 narrative.

For context, 17 unicorns were minted in the United States during Q3 2020. We don’t have Q4 numbers yet, but should inside the next week or so. There were more than 200 unexited unicorns in the United States as the fourth quarter kicked off last year.

We’re at four new domestic unicorns in the first week of Q1 2020, along with at least one more from other shores.

Keep in mind that announcement of private-market rounds lag their actual closing, so the deals we’re discussing were likely closed in Q4 2020, not Q1 2021.

Which startups reached the $1 billion threshold required to earn the unicorn tag? The list is long, but Divvy, Hinge Health, Salesloft, Starburst Data and Mambu seem to fit the bill. Lacework and iboss are possibles, along with Ikena Oncology and Senti Biosciences.

Let’s take a look at the rounds to see if we can spot any correlations amidst the data.


Divvy raised earlier this week, putting together a $165 million round that valued the Utah-based company at $1.6 billion. That was up more than twice its preceding private valuation of around $700 million.

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