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China’s ‘unicorns’ exceed US number for first time

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A logo of Didi Chuxing displayed on a building in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province. AFP

China’s ‘unicorns’ exceed US number for first time

China now has more privately-held start-ups valued by investors at over $1 billion than the US, a report said on Monday.

There were 206 Chinese firms out of a global total of 494 ultra-valuable start-ups – known as “unicorns” – in June 2019, according to the research firm Hurun Report.

This makes China the country with the largest number of unicorns in the world, with the US coming in second with 203 such companies.

“China and the USA dominate with over 80 per cent of the world’s known unicorns, despite representing only half of the world’s GDP [gross domestic product] and a quarter of the world’s population,” Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf said.

“The rest of the world needs to wake up to creating an environment that allows unicorns to flourish in.”

According to Hurun, China is home to the world’s three most valuable unicorns – Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, app maker ByteDance and ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which have a combined value of $280 billion.

Major US names like Airbnb and co-working space operator WeWork also made the list, which included lesser-known start-ups like California-based automated pizza delivery company Zume and Indian fantasy sports platform Dream11.

Hurun, which released its inaugural Global Unicorn List on Monday, told AFP this was the first time China’s number of unicorns was confirmed by researchers to have surpassed the US.

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