How fast can a fortune of USD 1 billion be accumulated? For most people, this is hardly a matter of particular interest. There are, however, those who are curious about the answer. And maybe they have discovered that in recent years the period for the accumulation of such wealth has been shortened significantly. And the culprit for this change is the one we owe most of the major changes in the economy and society in recent years – information technology.
Today, technological startups are developing so dynamically that in several years, they can reach worth for which companies from the industrial era most often needed decades. For example, the owner of the largest online shop – Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has become a billionaire for a period that is several times shorter than that of the founder of his major offline competitor – Walmart, Sam Walton (who, by the way, while alive, was the richest man on the planet, just like Bezos today). But when we talk about a really fast accumulation of market capitalization, neither Amazon nor any of the leading technology giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix or Uber are among the leaders.
The fastest growing companies are also almost entirely from the digital segment, but most likely you have not even heard of them. Below, you can learn more about them, but with the important clarification that, most often, their value has been attributed to them as a result of equity investments made by venture capital funds and business angels.
It may be a surprise for some readers, but the company that has reached a market value of USD 1 billion the fastest is actually... a service for electric scooters for rent. It is called Bird and it has achieved this in only 15 months. As we have already mentioned in Economy Magazine, e-scooter rental apps have been developing extremely dynamically in recent months, and there are already several players in the US with serious presence and financial capacity.
And Bird definitely stands out against their backdrop. In March 2018, the company managed to attract venture capital investments worth USD 100 million, with which it was evaluated at USD 400 million. By the end of May of the same year, however, it closed another circle of funding by attracting another USD 150 million from funds, such as Sequoia Capital and Accel, which in fact brought it a billion-dollar evaluation. It is possible for this value to double very soon, because the interest of investors in the hot segment of passenger transport continues to grow.
Second in the ranking is the project for 3D printing of metal products aimed at manufacturing companies and engineers. Created in 2015, it has reached a value from USD 0 to USD 1 billion in 1 year and 9 months. Today, the total venture capital investments attracted by it amount to USD 438 million, and among the investors are names like Google Ventures, BMW, Ford Motor Company and others. With the introduction of three-dimensional printing in more and more industries – from automotive and machine building, to construction of infrastructure, office buildings and even homes, the prospects for the company will get better.
It is unlikely for a hardware manufacturer to reach a market value of USD 1 billion so quickly because this type of business is not as scalable as software applications and online services. Though, that is exactly what Essential Products has managed to achieve – a company for smart phones and Internet of Things, created in November 2015 by Andy Rubin. It was evaluated at USD 1 billion exactly 1 year and 11 months after its founding. Its main products are the Android smart phone Essential Phone and smart home management speaker Essential Home, which works on its own operating system – Ambient OS.
In the same year, Letgo was founded – an online platform for sale of second-hand goods that managed to reach a one-billion-euro capitalization only two years after its incorporation. The investments attracted by the company throughout its entire existence are USD 475 million and the languages it is available in are now eleven. It was created by the former OLX CEO Alec Oxenford, who certainly has enough experience in this industry to successfully develop a new project from scratch. And relying on the promising segment of Shared Economy ensures that the development of the company will not stop here.
Among the other companies that have achieved the fastest billion-dollar capitalization are also the developer of new construction technologies – Katerra, created by the former Tesla CEO Michael Marks, which reached its value in two years and one month; the company for cloud solutions for data security – Illumio, which managed to achieve it in two years and three months, as well as Nikola Motor Company – a manufacturer of hybrid trucks and off-road vehicles (two years and six months).
The only one of the biggest technological names on the list is Airbnb – a platform where ordinary people can share their homes or part of them with tourists or other guests for a fee. But it is only the eleventh on this list, and since the time its founder, Brian Chesky, has decided to lend a corner of his room, in order to be able to pay his rent, until the moment his site was estimated at USD 1 billion, three years have passed. Today, Airbnb is estimated at more than USD 38 million and is kind of a flag of Shared Economy, which covers more and more segments.
To summarize, we can point out that most of the fastest growing companies are developing in innovative IT sub-segments, such as 3D printing, Shared Economy, Internet of Things or personal transport. Most often, their founders are people who either have developed another successful business, or have been the leaders of one that saved them a lot of time and mistakes, contributing to faster growth. Despite the rapid development of startup ecosystems in China, South Korea, Singapore and other countries around the world, all participants on this list are positioned in the US and have access to US venture capital.