Last updateSun, 19 May 2024 8pm

AI Companies Made One-Fifth of All New Unicorns in 2023

Last year, less than 100 companies joined the global unicorn club, the lowest number since 2017 and a steep drop compared to 2022 and 2023, which saw hundreds of private startups valued at $1 billion or more. Still, in a year that showed becoming a unicorn is much harder than before, AI companies turned out to be the absolute winners.

According to data presented by AltIndex.com, one in five new billion-dollar startups in 2023 were artificial intelligence companies.

20 AI Companies Joined the Unicorn Club in 2023, with a Combined Valuation of $35 Billion

A decade after the term “unicorn” was made to mark private startups valued at $1 billion or more, the number of these companies hit more than 1,500 globally, with a collective value of more than a whopping $5 trillion. But joining the global unicorn club has become much harder than before despite huge investor interest in some markets.

However, that didn't seem to affect the artificial intelligence sector, which delivered more unicorns than any other market. According to Crunchbase data, only 95 companies joined the global unicorn list last year, one-third of the figure seen in 2022 and six times less than the number of new unicorns in 2021, still the record year by the number of new $1 billion worth startups.

Of the 95 companies that hit a valuation of $1 billion or more, one-fifth, or 20, were from the AI sector, mainly from the generative AI market. These companies have collectively added more than $35 billion in value to the global unicorn club. Statistics show fintech was the sector with the second-highest number of new unicorns, with 14 in 2023. Cleantech, energy, and semiconductors followed with 12 and 9 new unicorns, respectively. Analyzed by geography, almost half of all new unicorns were from the United States. Another 24 were from China, while India and the United Kingdom had three.

There are now 214 AI Unicorns Globally; Open AI is the Highest Valued of Them

With 20 new companies joining the global unicorn list in 2023 and three more in the first quarter of this year, the total number of startups in the AI sector valued at $1 billion or more hit 214.

The generative AI company, OpenAI, is the most valuable among them, with a valuation of $80 billion as of this month, $15 billion more than the Chinese ecommerce giant Stripe or the US payments provider, Stripe. Statistics show Databricks is the second most valuable AI unicorn globally, with a valuation of $43 billion. The San Francisco-based AI safety and research company, follows with a $16 billion valuation, respectively.


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