ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION ONLINE COURSE

The Unicorn Invasion

by Francisco Santolo
April 2019

It may be a dream. But I am bombarded with daily news of Unicorns and Unicorns everywhere! Companies that reach a 1 billion dollar valuation seem to be multiplying big time, even in LATAM. At first glance, this sounds exciting, but upon closer examination, it defeats the purpose that so many "Unicorns" are popping up on a monthly basis, it's not realistic.

Come on! Let's be honest for once and drop this nonsense. By simply raising 100M for 10% equity or 50M for 5%, a startup is immediately declared part of the club.  The companies investing these huge amounts on these startups (sometimes in quite early rounds) are usually huge VCs (e.g. Softbank) or billion-dollar multinational companies (e.g. Microsoft) that benefit from the press and advertisement that comes from having a Unicorn.

100M is insignificant to them, and VC owners are thirsty for cashing in new "administration fees" in massive financing rounds before Uber and other deceptive Unicorns go underwater, just like Theranos did.  To get a sense of what is happening, go watch the documentary Fyre Festival. Of course, both entrepreneurs are portrayed as the only villains in the story, which is simply not the case.

Do we really need to have another financial crisis to reflect that those valuations are not realistic?  That the basic business models on which they grow do not make sense? That no multiple or discounted cash flow, even with astronomical growth will ever make them reach those valuations?

Come on VCs! Is it really worth it to use your privilege and power to destroy real value and talent just to fill your pockets and boost your ego?

What to read next from Francisco Santolo