Unicorn startups are private companies worth over $1 Billion. These are companies like Uber, and Dropbox, on the verge of an IPO (or a sale to a bigger company) but large and often increasingly global. As the venture capital boom continues, companies further delay their IPOs, and private market valuations continue to rise, more and more of these “Unicorns” are being formed.
Fortune has a list of these companies but there are new ones formed every day
So should you work for a Unicorn startup? There are many good reasons to
They are a set of global, diverse companies taking on massive global challenges while retaining an entrepreneurial fee
Despite their valuation, they are still growing dramatically and are scaling their organization to keep up with that growth. This presents fantastic opportunities for ambitious young professionals looking to work hard and fast-track their growth trajectory
They are likely to have a near-term strategic event like a sale or IPO that could potentially be an interesting experience, depending on your role there, and also potentially financially rewarding
Everyone wants to work there and it could mean a chance of getting to work with the best and brightest
Some of them are known to pay really well and have great perks and benefits. They could also provide equity incentives that could be valuable in the future
But before you make up your mind on these companies, also keep in mind the following:
They can be chaotic places from a talent development perspective. Such rapid growth has its consequences and its collateral damage to culture
Despite generous benefits and in-office perks like free meals and massages, stress levels can be high in a company dealing with such significant growth
They are large companies but they are still more risky than public companies, and especially in areas like technology, fads and trends can change quickly (remember flash sales and Fab.com?)
The stock compensation is private company stock that is less liquid and harder to monetize until the company goes public or sells
Either way, it appears that Unicorn’s are here to stay and for those that are looking to be at a larger company while also enjoying the rewards and culture of a younger, innovative company — they can be an excellent medium.