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.