Hey, I'm Dan! I invest in early-stage startups at Madrona and write a weekly newsletter called the DL

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Seattle Unicorns

UPDATE 10/31/2019

Since publishing this article over the summer, investors have minted two new PNW unicorns - Assurance and Vacasa - bringing our PNW unicorn total to 34.


It’s been a great year for Seattle unicorns. A couple weeks ago, Icertis announced a $115M funding round that valued the company at $1B. In May, Auth0 announced a $103M round that valued the company at ~$1.1B, and in April, Outreach announced a $114M round that valued that company at ~$1.1B.

(And following the buzz on Microsoft being a great launching pad for startups, all three companies are led by CEOs who worked at Microsoft for at least seven years)

Reading through these announcements, I was wondering how many unicorns are founded every year in the Pacific Northwest. Looking at the data since 1994 (when Amazon started), 32 startups have reached the billion dollar mark, and here’s a graphical summary of all of them.

Some quick observations:

  • On average, 1.5 unicorns get started every year in the Pacific Northwest
  • … and this number is growing. Companies like Remitly and Rover (both founded 2011) have raised rounds at $900M+ valuations but aren’t on this list quite yet
  • Prior to 2003, there were 2x as many consumer unicorns as enterprise unicorns; since 2003, it’s flipped to 3x as many enterprise as consumer
  • This list doesn’t include businesses like AWS or Xbox, which I view as “startups” within Amazon and Microsoft that could be big standalone companies. AWS alone could be worth $400B

Here’s my full PNW unicorn tracker if you want to take a look or help me make this chart prettier.

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