Unicorns and minotaurs and dragons, oh my: Mythical new ways to define successful startups

Dragon startup

AAP Image/Village Roadshow Production.

According to US website Axios, there’s a new mythical beast in startup town.

In an article penned last week, Axios highlighted a subsection of startups including the likes of Facebook, Groupon, WeWork and Grab.

They may well be unicorns, valued at over $1 billion, but the publication was coining a new term.

These startups are minotaurs: companies that have raised $1 billion or more in funding. Companies, in other words, that would become unicorns just by putting their cash in the bank.

According to the Axios data, generated by PitchBook, there are 55 minotaurs in the global startup labyrinth.

The most ferocious of these is China’s Ant Financial, which has raised a whopping $20.4 billion in total.

Juul in the US is in second place with $14.1 billion, and Uber comes in third, having raised $13.7 billion.

The US leads the way in the minotaur stakes, with 25 in total, while China is home to 18 and India to four.

But, in Australia, you can wander through mazes without a worry, as there’s no Minotaur in sight here, yet.

And so, you have your unicorns and now your minotaurs. But guess what, we can coin terms, too. And there’s a third kind of beast.

It’s bigger and more awe-inspiring than any other. It’s more magical than a unicorn and more terrifying than a minotaur, and so rare there are only two (if that) in the world today.

I am, of course, talking about the mighty dragons: the $1 trillion tech beasts of Apple and Amazon.

Apple reached a valuation of $1 trillion in August last year, and Amazon followed in September.

However, their flames have flickered since. Apple’s market cap is currently just over $822 billion, and Amazon’s is at $803 billion.

Although it hasn’t hit the exclusive dragon level yet, Microsoft is currently valued at more than both the beasts, with a market cap of $862 billion.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is not far behind, with a market cap of $777.2 billion.

And while Facebook is often lumped in with the Silicon Valley elite, it actually has a way to go before it has a shot at entering the lair. Currently, the social media giant has a market cap of $268.4 billion.

If there are no minotaurs in Australia, there certainly aren’t any dragons. But with two bonafide unicorns, and two more pegged to be on their way, we have high hopes of a dragon Down Under soon. And after all, winter is coming.

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