The WSJ published a recent chart of the 49 startups with billion dollar valuations. According to their research, there have never been as many privately held companies with such high valuations ever. The absolute number of these massively valuable companies alone is amazing. Ten years ago, most of them would have gone public by now. But what other insights can we tease from the data about these very special businesses?
First, the Billion Dollar Club (BDC) is nearly evenly split between Consumer and Enterprise companies, as the table below shows. I’ve noted the median dollars raised, the median valuation and the valuation efficiency in the table. The valuation efficiency is the valuation divided by the capital raised. This metric tries to answer the question, how much capital did the startup need to raise to achieve that valuation? This is a somewhat flawed metric but I’m going to use it to compare the relative attractiveness of sectors.
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Because of the losses in the early days, which get bigger the more successful the company is at acquiring customers, it is much harder for management and investors to figure out whether a SaaS business is financially viable.