February 16, 2023

Which investor has backed the most European unicorns?

Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator and Sequoia don’t even come close

Accel's European partners

The number of unicorns — current or exited — in an investor’s portfolio has long been a barometer of their success. 

Now, Sifted has launched a new European unicorn investor ranking to track which ones come top of the pack. 

The names of the VCs that have backed the most European unicorns won’t come as a surprise: Accel, Index Ventures, Eurazeo and SoftBank have each invested in more than 24 unicorns on the continent. 


Topping the list, Accel has backed 29 European unicorns. Only nine other investors, including the likes of Tiger Global Management and Tencent, have closed deals with 20 or more unicorns. 

Accel is also the investor that's been involved in the most deals with unicorn companies, Sifted analysis found — it’s invested in companies that eventually earned a $1bn tag a whopping 82 times. It’s invested in some unicorns, like GoCardless and PayFit, across multiple rounds — lending it more weight in the ranking. 

Index takes second place by deal count, with 74 deals done with European unicorns. Eurazeo lands at third place, with 58 deals closed.

Of the 103 investors in the ranking — which each did at least nine deals with unicorn startups — European investors make up more than half of the list (60%), followed by North American investors (34%) and Asian investors (6%). But on a country level, the US comes first over the UK, France, Sweden and Germany; US investors make up a third of the list, while UK investors account for a quarter. 

Over half of our list’s unicorn backers focus on early-stage deals; 35% primarily do Series A deals, while 21% focus on seed. Global Founders Capital is the seed-focused investor that’s backed the most unicorns (17) while some of Europe’s other best-known early-stage investors — like Point Nine, Cherry and Kima — have backed eight unicorns each. Y Combinator has backed four European unicorns, while French angel investor Xavier Niel has backed five — he’s the only angel to make the ranking. 

Some famous VC names don’t feature high up. Andreessen Horowitz has only backed four European unicorns, Sequoia just nine. 

The full ranking can be found here — complete with all information for featured investors. For more analysis on Europe’s unicorns, check out our Sifted Pro briefing. 

*This analysis defines a unicorn as a European company with a valuation of $1bn or more, private or exited, launched after 2005.

Federico Scolari

Federico Scolari is a junior intelligence analyst at Sifted. Find him on LinkedIn