AI startups dominate the list of companies that have attained unicorn status in 2024

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…privately held unicorns reached 1,241 as of May 2024.
AI companies lead the charge of 2024 unicorns | See full list
AI companies lead the charge of 2024 unicorns | See full list

Unicorns, defined as privately owned companies with valuations exceeding $1 billion, are now becoming a common phenomenon. Notably, AI startups are achieving a remarkable population and dominance shortly after their inception. 

A prime example is OpenAI, which took the world by storm since its AI chatbot, ChatGPT, went viral upon its release in November 2022 and now boasts a staggering valuation of $80 billion. This impressive figure positions OpenAI as the third most valuable unicorn globally, trailing only ByteDance – the company behind TikTok, and SpaceX – a spacecraft maker.

The intense interest in AI over the past two years, coupled with OpenAI’s substantial market value, prompted BestBrokers to use the latest data from CB Insights for analysis and to identify the new entrants into this elite group in 2024. 

Notable is the fact that of 35 startups that achieved unicorn status at the end of May 2024, 10 are AI companies. 

On the list of the latest AI unicorns making waves are Figure – an AI robotics company building a multi-purpose humanoid form robot, Cognition AI, and the disruptive search engine challenger Perplexity.ai.

Founded in 2022, Figure has swiftly ascended to a remarkable $2.68 billion valuation. This rapid rise is fueled by an impressive $854 million in venture capital and angel investor funding. Figure’s robots promise to bring science fiction closer to reality, paving the way for advanced automation and AI integration in everyday tasks.

Launched in 2023, Cognition AI has developed AI software capable of functioning as a software engineer. This technology can write code and holds the potential to autonomously develop new AI systems in the future. With $196 million raised so far, Cognition AI’s innovative approach has catapulted its market value to an impressive $2 billion.

Perplexity.ai is challenging Google’s dominance in internet searches but has been accused of scraping data indiscriminately, including plagiarising journalists’ works. The company has raised an additional $62.7 million in its fourth funding round, pushing its valuation past the $1 billion mark in April 2024.

Another entrant into the unicorn world is xAI – the company behind Grok, which raised $6 billion in Series B in May. The company is now valued at $24 billion, according to Crunchbase.

Full list of companies that reached Unicorn status in 2024:

S/NCompany Valuation ($bn)Industry
1xAI24AI
2Monad Labs3Crypto
3Figure 2.68AI
4Bending Spoons 2.55Consumer/Retail Tech
5Moonshot AI2.5AI
6Xaira Therapeutics2.15Biotech
7Cognition AI2AI
8Ninja One1.90Enterprise Tech
9Weka1.6Enterprise Tech
10Altruist1.5Fintech
11Huntress1.55Enterprise Tech
12Sigma Computing1.50Enterprise Tech
13Cyera1.40AI
14Liquid Death 1.40Consumer/Retail Tech
15Hashkey1.30Crypto
16Zum1.30Transport
17Polyhedra Network1.25Crypto
18Together AI1.25AI
19Mews1.20Enterprise Tech
20Creatio1.20Enterprise Tech
21Uzum1.16Fintech
22Eleven Labs1.10AI
23Perplexity AI1.05AI
24Krutrim1AI
25Perfios1Fintech
26Semperis1Enterprise Tech
27Silverfort1Enterprise Tech
28Pigment 1Enterprise Tech
29DataSnipper1AI
30Humanity Protocol1Identity
31IntraBio1Biotech
32Merkle Manufactory1Crypto
33Minute Media1Digital Content
34The SandBox1Gaming
35Xreal1Consumer electronics
Data from CB Insights

With these additions, privately held unicorns reached 1,241 as of May 2024. 

Top 10 unicorns by valuation in 2024

Africa’s unicorn list has not been updated, as the last recorded company to achieve unicorn status was Egypt’s MNT Halan in February 2023. This can be attributed to several factors:

Infrastructure challenges: Many parts of Africa face infrastructure deficits regarding reliable electricity, internet connectivity, and transportation. These are crucial for the growth of tech startups.

Access to capital: Access to venture capital and investment in early-stage startups can be limited compared to other regions like the US or Europe. This limits the scaling potential of African startups. Besides, Africa has recorded a continuing decline in funding in the past year

Regulatory environment: Some African countries have regulatory environments that are not conducive to entrepreneurship or innovation, especially for crypto. Complex bureaucratic processes can hinder startup growth.

AI companies lead the charge of 2024 unicorns | See full list

Other reasons include: 

  • Market Fragmentation
  • Education and Skills Gap
  • Risk Aversion

But, there are seven unicorns spread across Africa. 

Meanwhile, as of this year, the United States is home to more than half of all unicorn startups – 662, followed by China with 169 unicorns, and India, which is home to 71 unicorns. 

The United Kingdom has the largest number of unicorns in Europe with 54 startups, while Germany has 31 and France has 27.


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