2020, a year like no other and one which has provided endless challenges for many businesses. There have however been a few shining lights, as a selection of UK businesses have achieved unicorn status throughout the year.
From electric vehicles to recipe boxes, here is a rundown of the businesses that have this year joined the exclusive list of companies known as ‘unicorns’ with valuations in excess of $1bn.
Arrival became a unicorn at the start of 2020, after a €100m investment from Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation. Arrival develops and manufactures zero-emission electric public transport vehicles such as buses and vans and the investment marks the start of a partnership that aims to jointly accelerate the adoption of commercial vehicles on a global scale.
Headquartered in London with over 800 employees, Arrival’s Generation 2 vehicles are assembled using small footprint micro-factories, located in areas of demand.
The company, a rival to Tesla, has also this year been named the UK’s number 1 start-up by LinkedIn.
Cyber security start-up Snyk, a London based developer-first security company joined the unicorn list in January. A $150m investment in January and a $200m investment in September has led to the company’s valuation soaring to over $2.6bn.
With customers such as Google, Asos, Skyscanner and Comic Relief, Snyk is an open-source security platform which helps software-driven businesses enhance developer security.
The company has also achieved carbon neutral certification, as they pledge to reduce and offset their footprint to zero by offsetting its emissions.
Snyk plans to use the latest investments to accelerate its vision of realising a comprehensive developer-first security solution.
OneTrust, founded in 2016 reached unicorn status in February after raising $210 million in Series B funding led by Coatue and Insight Partners, bringing the company valuation to over $2bn.
OneTrust is co-headquartered in London and Atlanta and has over 7,500 customers all using it to build integrated programs that comply with a variety of the world’s privacy and security laws, including GDPR.
OneTrust is now estimated to be valued at over $5bn with its latest funding round being led by TCV whose other ventures have included Netflix and Spotify.
Gymshark became the second British company to have achieved unicorn status without any prior investment in August; after securing a £200m investment from US growth equity firm General Atlantic.
Founded by British entrepreneur Ben Francis in 2012, Gymshark is a fitness clothing brand who utilise social media and partnership with influencers rather than traditional marketing platforms. The brand’s innovative Black Friday 2020 campaign reached over 16 million people across social media, as they moved away from their bright imagery to blacked-out ones instead.
At a time when many retailers are struggling, Gymshark’s revenue and online presence continues to increase.
The online car marketplace Cazoo reached unicorn status in June 2020, becoming one of the fastest British businesses to do so. The tech start-up managed to raise £240m of funding from General Catalyst D1 Capital Partners and funds managed by Fidelity Management & Research Company and Blackrock.
Cazoo aims to make car buying no different to any other online shopping where consumers can purchase a used car entirely online and have it delivered to their home in 72 hours. It has quickly become one of the country’s leading online car retailers, having only been founded in 2018 by Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman OBE.
London based online meal kit manufacturer and retailer joined the list of British unicorns in November after it raised £25m (US$ 33m) of new equity from existing investors Perwyn and BGF.
The subscription service offers a meal box with fresh, pre-measured ingredients meaning no food waste with all meat coming from British farmers. The pandemic has underpinned much of Gousto’s success as it doubled its meal deliveries to five million over the first lockdown.
Backed by ‘The Body Coach’ Joe Wicks, Gusto was founded in 2011 by James Carter and Timo Boldt and has quickly grown, becoming popularly known as the ‘Spotify for food’.
Hopin, a live online events platform achieved unicorn status in November, having only been founded in 2019.
After receiving $125m in a funding round led by existing investor IVP and new investor Tiger Global Hopin has become one of the fastest ever UK start-ups, reaching double unicorn status in less than a year.
Hopin allows users to network, share electronic business cards, join breakout groups, and interact with live speakers. The focus on interaction and networking sets Hopin apart from competitors such as Zoom and has left the platform boasting customers including Adobe, Dell and Unilever.