Orange Silicon Valley releases report showing how billion dollar ‘Unicorn’ companies are reshaping the economy


A new report from Orange Silicon Valley called Unicorns, Startups, and Giants: The New Billion Dollar Dynamics of the Digital Landscape shows that tech ‘Unicorns’ are becoming more than just billion-dollar start-up superstars or fodder for talk of bubbles. They are the new engines of disruption reshaping the competitive landscape.

  • The report charts over 60 Unicorn companies across seven dominant sectors of technology that collectively account for $232 billion in market value.
  • Over 70% of these companies are focused on transforming the enterprise with digital technologies.
  • Once upon a time, such Unicorns were rare but 2013 saw a 67% increase in the number of valuations set at $1 billion or more.
  • Not only are more Unicorns being made but they’re being held in pre-IPO growth rounds for longer. Of the 60 Unicorns studied in the report, 28 remain in the IPO pipeline – a full 47%.
  • Likewise, private investors are outspending corporate M&A teams by a 2-to-1 margin, totaling $75 billion versus corporate acquisitions of $36 billion.

“Unicorns are now a class of market actors to be reckoned with, distinct from the established Incumbents and the post-bubble web Giants from the first decade of the 21st century,” says Georges Nahon, Orange Silicon Valley CEO. “They represent new engines of innovation and the feedstock for the next generation of disruptors, posing major questions for Incumbents, Giants, and investors.”
In February of 2014, Facebook announced it would purchase WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock. This unprecedented valuation given to a relatively young messaging company rattled the tech community, feeding the ever-growing sense that we’ve entered a new technology bubble. These so-called Unicorns – companies reaching valuations over a billion dollars through growth-stage funding, public IPO’s, or corporate exits – are becoming more and more common.

Nevertheless, Internet-native Giants have a powerful symbiosis with Unicorns. They use Unicorns to test innovations and markets with new offerings in areas adjacent to the Giants. They frequently invest in and acquire the leading Unicorns in order to grow their business further into these adjacencies. In this context, the $19 billion valuation of WhatsApp represents the exponential growth curve of their audience – 450 million users at the time of acquisition – but also enables Facebook to better access a global market with a technology that’s becoming more valuable to its core demographic. Giants understand the pace of change brought by digital transformation. They see the value in keeping Unicorns on their side and watching closely how they shape the next wave of innovation.

This leaves Incumbents under pressure to transform in order to keep up with the pace of technological change. The research of Orange Silicon Valley offers a map of sector opportunities that can enable Incumbents to better align with digital transformation. The report then shares a macro analysis of six broad currents that will further transform the landscape to 2020, giving birth to yet more Unicorns, more disruptions, and more opportunities.

The full report, as well as a presentation, can be downloaded at

Press contacts:

Pascale Diaine : +1 415 243 1564 /
Héloïse Rothenbühler : 01 44 44 93 93 /





Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 40,9 billion euros in 2016 and 155,000 employees worldwide at 31 December 2016, including 96,000 employees in France. Present in 29 countries, the Group has a total customer base of 263 million customers worldwide at 31 December 2016, including 202 million mobile customers and 18 million fixed broadband customers. Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies, under the brand Orange Business Services. In March 2015, the Group presented its new strategic plan “Essentials2020” which places customer experience at the heart of its strategy with the aim of allowing them to benefit fully from the digital universe and the power of its new generation networks.

Orange is listed on Euronext Paris (symbol ORA) and on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol ORAN).

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