10 startups that became worth billions in less than 3 years

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Lemon Art / Flickr, CC

In the startup world, the odds of a company achieving a valuation of $1 billion or more is considered so slim, it’s named after a mythical beast – the unicorn.

In the entire US, there are just 135 private companies that are valued at over a billion dollars or more. Of those, only ten became so-called unicorns in less than three years, setting the speed record for all the rest.

This list, based on data from Pitchbook, rounds up all of the companies in the US that hit the $1 billion valuation mark in record time.


Desktop Metal is a 3D metal printing company that is hoping to make metal printing more accessible for manufacturers and engineers.

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Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop
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A123systems

Year founded: 2015

How long it took to become a unicorn: 1 year, 9 months

Total raised: $277 million

Currently valued at: $1 billion


Cancer detection startup Grail has received investments from Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.

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Grail Founder and vice chairman Jeff Huber
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Grail

Year founded: 2016

How long it took to become a unicorn: 1 year, 9 months

Total raised: $1.38 billion

Estimated current value: $2.5 billion


Smartphone maker Essential was founded by Android creator Andy Rubin.

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Essential Founder and CEO Andy Rubin
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Brian Ach/Getty

Year founded: 2015

How long it took to become a unicorn: 1 year, 11 months

Total raised: $330 million

Estimated current value: $1 billion


Letgo is an online marketplace for used goods.

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Letgo founders Alec Oxenford, Enrique Linares, and Jordi Castello
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Letgo

Year founded: 2015

How long it took to become a unicorn: 2 years

Total raised: $475 million

Estimated current value:$1 billion


Zoox is one of the top-funded autonomous driving car companies in the US.

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Zoox founders Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson
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Zoox

Year founded: 2014

How long it took to become a unicorn: 2 years

Total raised: $302 million

Estimated current value: $3.5 billion

Source: Bloomberg


Michael Marks served as an interim CEO at Tesla before founding his own construction-supply company, Katerra.

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Katerra founder Michael Marks
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Riverwood Capital

Year founded: 2015

How long it took to become a unicorn: 2 years, 1 month

Total raised: $1.1 billion

Estimated current value: $3 billion


Illumio provides a cloud-based data security service to businesses.

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Illumio CEO Andrew Rubin
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LinkedIn/Andrew Rubin

Year founded: 2013

How long it took to become a unicorn: 2 years, 3 months

Total raised: $267 million

Estimated current value: $1.2 billion


Grocery delivery service Instacart connects food retailers with hungry customers.

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The founder and CEO of Instacart, Apoorva Mehta.
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Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Year founded: 2012

How long it took to become a unicorn: 2 years, 4 months

Total raised: $1 billion

Currently valued at: $4.4 billion


Opendoor lets homeowners list their houses for sale on its online real estate marketplace.

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Opendoor CEO Eric Wu
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YouTube

Year founded: 2014

How long it took to become a unicorn: 2 years, 8 months

Total raised: $320 million

Currently valued at: $1 billion


Airbnb lets homeowners rent out their properties to short-term vacationers.

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Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky
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Thomson Reuters

Year founded: 2008

How long it took to become a unicorn: 2 years, 11 months

Total raised: $3.4 billion

Currently valued at: $31 billion