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The ‘Unicorn’ Club


SAN FRANCISCO — One hallmark of the current technology boom is a generation of start-ups valued at $1 billion or more by investors. Now meet the start-ups-in-waiting that may be next to reach that mark, if the white-hot market continues.

The $1 billion valuation metric was popularized two years ago by the venture investor Aileen Lee. She found that many of the start-ups that reaped the hugest riches for venture capital investors — Facebook and LinkedIn, for example — often reached a valuation of $1 billion or more while they were privately held. Because of their rarity, Ms. Lee called those companies “unicorns,” after the mythical creatures.

Since then, numerous start-ups have attained the $1 billion distinction — and topped it. With investors rushing to bet on the next big thing, the ride-hailing service Uber received a valuation of around $51 billion, while Airbnb, the online room-rental service, is pegged at about $24 billion. And every month, more companies are jumping into the unicorn echelon.

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PayPal makes its first acquisition


The digital payments giant makes a move in this suddenly hot of e-commerce area.

PayPal has bought mobile commerce startup Modest, marking the digital payment giant’s first acquisition since spinning out of eBay last month.

Modest, which premiered publicly earlier this year, helps merchants create mobile apps for their stores.

“Mobile commerce sucks, and we wanted to change that,” said Modest co-founder Harper Reed in an interview withFortune.

Reed was formerly the chief technology officer for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Modest’s other co-founder, Dylan Richard, was the lead engineer for the campaign.

Modest will be part of PayPal’s PYPL -2.11% Braintree business, which manages and processes payments for companies like ride sharing giant Uber. Both companies declined to reveal the financial terms of the acquisition.

One of the things that drew PayPal to buy Modest’s business was its bet on buy buttons, which let people buy items directly from apps without having the leave to another web page. Modest lets retailers embed buy buttons within their own apps, and other areas, including emails. Many social networks, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are embedding buy buttons on their sites that let people to buy items they see on the networks. Braintreerecently partnered with Pinterest to help process payments for the site’s buy button.

Modest’s technology will also bring additional commerce expertise to PayPal beyond just payments, including shipping and inventory management.

This isn’t PayPal’s first acquisition this summer. In July, prior to splitting from eBay, the payments giant bought money transfer company Xoom for $890 million. As outgoing eBay CEO John Donahoe had previously explained, the once-symbiotic relationship between eBay and PayPal was not as tight as it used to be and that they could do better alone while focusing on their respective businesses.

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