Israeli Unicorn Startup Landscape
The Israeli tech ecosystem has made its mark globally since its early days somewhere in the 1990s. With $8.3 billion raised in 2019 and $9.9 billion in exits in 2019 alone, Israel punches above its weight.
The stats about Israel’s tech ecosystem have become part of its Startup Nation Mantra — Israel boasts the highest number of startups per capita (6587 companies according to SNC), the highest VC dollars per capita, the % of GDP spent on R&D is only second to Korea, it has over 350 multi national R&D centres etc. What’s less discussed, is that Israel also, has one of the highest number of unicorns, aka privately owned startups worth more than $1 billion, globally.
I’m not a huge fan of ‘unicorn statistics’ as they tend to represent unreailsed value, ultimately assigned by investors and not by the market. That said, the density of startups reaching unicorn status can also be considered a sign of maturity for the ecosystem and in Israel, the pace of new unicorns is growing steadily.
In any case, while those outsized outcomes were far an apart a decade ago, Israel has gone from 20 unicorns in 2019, to more than double in 2020. As of now, Israel has 42 Unicorns, or (technically 40, now that Lemonade and JFrog went public).
The Israel Unicorn Landscape
And here is the full list (data courtesy of PitchBook)
From humble beginnings
It wasn’t easy for me to pinpoint the first Israeli Unicorn. There were many Israeli startup transactions north of $1 billion in the early 2000s. Lucent acquired Chromatis for $4.8b in 2000, M-Systems, inventor the disk-on-key, was acquired for $1.6 Billion by Sandisk in 2006, etc. Technically, the term unicorn was coined by Aileen Lee in 2013, so many consider the first ‘new’ unicorn to be Waze in 2013, as the company achieved a $1.3 billion valuation when…