After a bubbly 2021, Europe’s unicorn machine slowed; only 47 companies crossed the $1bn threshold for the first time this year, compared to 69 last year. That means the bar to become a unicorn investor became notably higher.
Sifted tracked the region’s unicorn investors to see which ones had the most portfolio companies cross the $1bn valuation line.
A total of 425 investors were involved in a financing event for at least one unicorn in 2022, down from 650 last year. The number of investors with multiple unicorn events this year has also fallen; only 17 backed three or more new unicorns this year, versus 60 last year (which suggests it wasn’t hard to be an investor last year!).
Topping last year’s group, US-based VC Accel has dropped out the top 15 for 2022 unicorns, having “only” backed two of them this year — Veriff and PayFit — against 10 from 2021.
It wasn’t exactly an easy year for SoftBank either, which has also dropped out from the top 15 altogether, along with high-profile names Bpifrance, BlackRock, Partech, Kima Ventures, LocalGlobe and Latitude.
But equally, some others have walked the ladder up to the top. Here’s who came out on top this year.
1/ Tiger Global Management
After coming third in last year’s ranking of unicorn investors, US-based Tiger Global nabs the top spot this year, having backed eight new unicorns in total. Its unicorns span sectors from fintech to enterprise software and include four investments in ecosystems off the beaten path in Italy, Ireland, Estonia and Spain.
It remains to be seen whether or not Tiger will top the list again though; after a strong January of investing, it's significantly slowed its investment into Europe. Five of its eight new unicorns Sifted tracked this year were minted in January — and there was a dry spell between Scalapay becoming Italy’s first unicorn in February and Spanish HR management company Factorial announcing in October.
It’s also worth noting that Copper has never officially confirmed its valuation.
2/ Coatue Management
Coatue joins Tiger Global as the other US-based fund in the list, shooting up from tenth place last year. Its six new unicorns include online marketplace Ankorstore and delivery software startup Deliverect, which raised Belgium’s biggest round this year.
3/ Index Ventures
Similar to Coatue, Index Ventures worked its way up our list from 11th to third this year, with five new unicorns under its belt. These include the UK edtech unicorn Multiverse and Germany’s tax administration platform Taxfix.
Eurazeo backed four new unicorns this year, all of which are headquartered in France like the fund itself. These include business bank Qonto, which raised a whopping €486m in January, and credit platform Younited, 2022’s latest unicorn.
With a total of four unicorns — three of which are fintech companies — China’s tech giant Tencent ties with Eurazeo for fourth place. Tencent managed to back both Satispay and Scalapay, Italy’s first ever unicorns, which were both minted this year.
The Chinese company has been a major backer of European fintech for many years and backed dozens of unicorns globally.
Federico Scolari is an Intelligence analyst at Sifted. Amelie Bahr is a Senior Intelligence analyst at Sifted.
*Sifted defines a unicorn as a privately held, VC-backed company valued at $1bn. To be considered unicorns, startups must have: reached a $1bn valuation on any round previous to IPO or acquisition, been founded after 2005 and be founded and headquartered in Europe. Companies valued at $1bn at IPO but never at any prior financing stage are not considered unicorns as they are no longer privately held at that valuation