It wasn't all that long ago that a great valuation for a tech startup was $1 billion. Seriously, if you could get that, you were on easy street and investors would practically line up to write checks. That soon became commonplace. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal there are now more than 100 companies with a valuation of $1 billion or higher. So, that $1 billion benchmark jumped to $5 billion. Not so long after that, it doubled to $10 billion. And still the madness continues. Now there is a small but impressive group of startups with a valuation of $20 billion or more (or will be very soon). These are the most valuable startups in the world right now.
CEO: Evan Spiegel
Valuation: $16-20 billion
Total Funding: $1.2 billion
Snap Chat is a photo messaging app that allows users to send photos and videos to each other. The trick is that the photos and videos are set to expire within 10 seconds or less. The app took off in the fall of 2011, and is now used by nearly 200 million people – for free. In 2013, Spiegel spurned an offer from Facebook to acquire the company for $3 billion.
Fun Fact: Evan Spiegel is the youngest billionaire in the world with a net worth of $1.5 billion.
Snap Chat's notable investors include: Yahoo, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark Capital, Coatue Management, and SV Angel.
CEO: Alexander Karp
Valuation: $15 billion, but a new funding round of $500 million secured recently at valuation of $20 billion
Total Funding: $1.5 billion (plus the new $500 million)
Palantir is in the business of data analysis. The company's software is used by government agencies. The FBI and CIA are clients of Palantir.
Fun Fact: Alexander Karp, net worth $1.2 billion, holds a PhD in neoclassical social theory.
Palantir's notable investors include Tiger Global Management, Founders Fund, Jeremy Stoppleman, and Glynn Capital Management.
CEO: Brian Chesky
Valuation: $25.5 billion
Total Funding: $1.5 billion, with a $1 billion round of funding pending
Airbnb allows people to rent their homes to travelers. They can rent a room or their whole home.
Fun Fact: The idea came about when the then unemployed Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia realized that they could make some money renting out their San Francisco apartment during a big conference that had many of the city's hotels overbooked.
Airbnb's notable investors include T. Rowe Price, Founders Fund, SherpaCapital, CrunchFund, Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global, Sequoia Capital, General Catalyst Partners, SV Angel, and Greylock Partners
CEO: Travis Kalanick
Valuation: $41.2 billion (current funding round could raise it to $50 billion)
Total Funding: $5.9 billion, with a $1 billion round of funding pending
Uber's app allows people to book a ride in a private vehicle for far less than a taxi costs. Uber drivers are contract employees. Uber currently operates in 57 countries.
Fun Fact: Prior to co-founding Uber, Travis Kalanick filed for bankruptcy after multiple film boards sued his former company Scour, Inc.
Uber's notable investors include Menlo Ventures, KPCB, Google Ventures and Benchmark Capital.
CEO: Jun Lei
Valuation: $46 billion
Total Funding: $14 billion
Founded in June 2010, Xiaomi is a privately held company that designs, develops, and sells smart phones, apps, and consumer electronics. Xiaomi released its first smart phone in August 2011. In a little more than four years, Xiaomi has sold more than 7 million phones. What's their secret? All of Xiaomi's products are clearly cheap knockoffs of iPhones and Samsung devices. No company in China has reached the $1 billion revenue mark faster than Xiaomi.
Fun Fact: Lei Jun is frequently called the Chinese Steve Jobs, a nickname he doesn't love, even though he built his empire by emulating the former Apple chief right down to the smallest detail. He even copies Steve's famously simple wardrobe of jeans and a black t-shirt.
Xiomi's notable investors include Qualcomm Ventures, IDG Capital Partners, Digital Sky Technologies, DST Global, and Morningside Group.