Tag Archives: Unicorn

Immigrants and Unicorns

Thanks to the a16z weekly newsletter, I just discovered another interesting study about the importance of migrants in the US innovation landscape: Immigrants and the Billion Dollar Startups (in pdf). Here are some key findings:
– 51 percent, or 44 out of 87, of the country’s $1 billion startup companies had at least one immigrant founder.
– 62 of the 87 companies, or 71 percent, had at least one immigrant helping the company grow and innovate.
– immigrant founders have created an average of approximately 760 jobs per company in the United States.
Of course this is limited to the Unicorns, private companies with a rather young history, but these are impressive data.

Immigrants and Billion Dollar Startups

If you have never read anything about the importance of migrants in Silicon Valley, you might also be interested in the work of AnnaLee Saxenian. Now, I copied the data from the study, to add my own comments:


In terms of geography, out of the 44 start-ups, 14 are based in Silicon Valley and 12 in close-by San Francisco.
In terms of education, out of the 60 immigrant founders, 23 have studied in the US universities, including 5 at Stanford and 1 at Berkeley vs. 4 at Harvard and 2 at MIT.
In terms of origin, the study gives the individual countries and I was interested at Europe: 15 come from the European Union vs. 14 from India and 7 from Israel.
Interesting, right?

Silicon Valley unicorns on a map

Twenty years ago, I loved the Silicon Valley high-tech maps which were regularly printed. You could see the density of famous start-ups around Santa Clara, San Jose, Cupertino, Mountain View, Redwood City or Palo Alto, cities which would be unknown and uninteresting outside the technology world. Just have a look at some examples in the end of the post.

When playing with Banksy’s adventures in NYC, I used Google for building a customized map. And a few days later, I thought about doing the same for Silicon Valley unicorns. Remember the unicorns are the rare companies which reach a $1B valuation. According to the 2013 SV150 there are 94 such publicly-quoted companies. Too much for an interactive map. So I did the exercise with the $10B+ companies (I found 23 with their roots in Silicon Valley).

Choosing the market capitalization is debatable. I could have taken sales or profits. Companies such as Electronic Arts, Juniper, Xilinx, AMD, nVidia would have appeared but the group would have been similar. I just add to choose. You can open the map directly in Google maps for a better interface.

Diplay Technology companies on a bigger map

Again there is something fascinating about this density. People claim the center of gravity of the region is moving north to San Francisco because of the web 2.0. This remains to be seen over the long term…