Edge of Innovation

Billion dollar unicorns: These are Europe’s biggest tech startup ideas

Dean Evans Technology Writer Twitter

In the startup world, a ‘unicorn’ is defined as a company valued at over $1 billion and, according to a recent report by GP Bullhound, Europe has a sizeable herd of them. Forty-seven to be exact, worth over $131 billion; clever startup ideas that range from streaming music services to medical grade virtual reality.

How many do you know? There’s a good chance that you’ve already used one or more of what these 47 tech startups have to offer. And, a good chance that some of them might have changed your life in some way — from where you shop online to how you spend your leisure time.

According to the report, the biggest tech startup in Europe is Sweden’s music streaming service Spotify (valued at $8.5 billion). This rivals Skype (acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion), which was originally created by Swede Niklas Zennström, Dane Janus Friis and Estonians Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn.

Candy Crush on an iPad
You might not know King Digital, but you’ll know of their biggest game: Candy Crush.

German online shopping portal Zalando takes third place on the list ($8.1 billion), followed by the UK-based financial services startup Markit Group (worth $6.2 billion). You might not have heard of Swedish gaming company King Digital (valued at $5.6 billion), but you’ve probably played one of their mobile games, such as Candy Crush, Farm Heroes or Pet Rescue.

At number six in GP Bullhound’s unicorn top 10 is UK-based Rightmove. This digital estate agent has arguably changed the way we look for a new home and is worth a whopping $5.6 billion because of it. Finland’s Supercell, meanwhile, is the second mobile games startup on the list. It’s worth $5.3 billion thanks to the success of Boom Beach and Clash of Clans.

Clash of Clans by Supercell
Supercell’s worth skyrocketed after success with Boom Beach and the wildly popular Clash of Clans.

At number eight, you’ll find Russian search engine/Internet company Yandex (with a valuation of $4.9 billion), chased by Isle of Man-based Pokerstars (also $4.9bn), the largest online poker cardroom in the world. Germany’s Rocket Internet rounds off the top 10, a startup incubator said to be worth $4.7 billion.

In fact, Rocket Internet has had a guiding hand in some of the other multi-billion dollar startups on GP Bullhound’s list, specifically food delivery hopefuls Delivery Hero ($3.1 billion) and Hellofresh ($2.9 billion), and online fashion retailer Global Fashion Group ($1.1 billion).

A Hellofresh meal
Hellofresh combines tasty recipes with pre-measured ingredients to make cooking easy.

The European Unicorns 2016: Survival of the fittest report doesn’t just rank Europe’s biggest tech startups by value, it highlights some to watch in the future. For example, the newest billion-dollar companies on the list include the augmented reality/visual discovery app Blippar ($1.5 billion), used car trading website Auto 1 ($1 billion) and Switzerland-based Mindmaze ($1 billion), who want to use virtual reality to help stroke victims.

There are also a cluster of startups that are growing fast and could become the big unicorn success stories of 2017. These include the UK’s takeaway delivery service Deliveroo; Germany’s music-sharing platform, Soundcloud; Swedish nuisance call blocking app Truecaller; and Danish outfit Trustpilot, which aggregates user reviews of online businesses.

Some of these billion dollar companies and bold startup ideas are changing the way we live our lives, making it easier to listen to music, get the best deal, shop for clothes, buy a house, share a ride and order a meal. We’ll look at just how some tech startups — like Uber and Airbnb — are transforming modern society in a future article.

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