Five Prodigious Tech Innovators
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Founder of Western philosophy
In the latest in a series of articles devoted to the constituents of the Morningstar® PitchBook® Unicorn Select 20 Index™, we would like to introduce you to the second quartile of disruptors in terms of the size of their most recent post-money valuations (as per 31 May 2023). As we shall discover, there is considerable diversity among today’s leading innovators, spanning fast-growing industries such as digital payments, big data & artificial intelligence, neobanking, entertainment software, and self-driving vehicles.
Four of these companies have a heritage of more than a decade, so they are typical unicorns in that they have firmly established businesses that continue to grow rapidly.
This company has developed an online payments platform intended to track and secure digital transactions across the Internet. It integrates with an end-to-end payment technology that eliminates intermediaries, accepts multiple credit and debit cards, connects retailers with shoppers’ bank accounts, and provides data-rich insights to track performance and drive approvals. It allows users to customize risk settings and get advice from expert fraud teams, enabling businesses to secure and promote mobile and online purchasing and manage risks without missing out on revenue.
In late May, Checkout.com was granted a Retail Payment Services license from the Central Bank of the UAE. This makes Checkout.com the first global payments provider to be granted an acquiring license in the country, further cementing its position as a leader across the MENA region. The license will allow Checkout.com to unlock its full proposition for merchants in the UAE. Fundamentally, Checkout.com now has more control over processing outcomes and can drive best-in-class payment acceptance performance for its merchants.
Databricks' Unified Analytics Platform powered by Apache Spark enables organizations to accelerate innovation by bringing together data and AI technologies, improving collaboration between data engineers and data scientists, and making it simpler to prepare data, train models, and deploy them into production. This enables data science teams to work with improved efficacy, performance, and security in an optimized runtime.
Databricks has recently opened its first office in Israel to grow its business in the country and tap into local talent. This is the latest addition to the three new offices in Stockholm, Munich, and Zurich, the company has already opened in 2023, as the fast pace of AI discoveries and the surge in popularity of larger language models (LLMs) are driving growth. Its open cloud platform is used by over 50% of Fortune 500 companies to unify data, analytics, and AI, and runs on all major clouds, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.
Revolut is a British neobank and financial technology company, which offers a broad spectrum of banking services including GBP and EUR bank accounts, debit cards, currency exchange, stock trading, cryptocurrency exchange, and peer-to-peer payments. Revolut's mobile app supports spending and ATM withdrawals in 120 currencies and transfers in 29 currencies directly from the app.
With almost 29 million customers in Europe, Singapore, Japan, and Australia, Revolut took the initial steps toward penetrating Latin America in the first half of 2023. In late May, less than a month after launching its app in Brazil, the company was granted a direct credit license, which will enable the neobank to offer accounts with more payment and transfer options and paves the way for new product launches. Revolut is also exploring the Mexican market and targeting an aggressive expansion into the US.
Epic Games is the developer of Unreal Engine, the world’s most powerful, open, and advanced real-time 3D creation tool for photoreal visuals and immersive experiences. This technology has paved the way for the latest innovations around the blending of digital content with the physical world. Apple unveiled ‘Vision -Pro’, a revolutionary spatial computer in early June. Its breakthrough design ensures that every virtual experience feels like it’s taking place in front of the user’s eyes in real-time.
From a similar perspective generative AI – a type of artificial intelligence system capable of generating text, images, or other media in response to prompts - promises to change the way games are made forever. By virtue of holding the largest franchise, combined with its game engine expertise, Epic is uniquely positioned to benefit from the coming GenAI revolution.
In becoming a ‘freemium’ provider in respect of its gaming business, Epic has effectively flipped the business model of its competitors on its head; instead of selling a console at a cost and profiting from game sales, Epic made the games free and upsold from within – a prime example of a freemium model. Among its portfolio, Epic’s Fortnite has millions of players worldwide, and other games, such as Blade and Gears of War, are hugely popular. Although pandemic-related trends are fading, the shift to virtual engagement remains firmly entrenched. ‘Alone together’ – physically disconnected yet socially mobile is the new normal, and it is a much cheaper option than meeting in a bar. As such, online socializing through gaming activity via the 3D metaverse is set to expand further, providing growing additional revenue streams to the most successful industry participants.
Waymo, formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Project, stands for a new way forward in mobility. Waymo remains a subsidiary of Alphabet (the parent company of Google), and has developed technology designed to offer on-demand riding services that make it convenient for people and things to move around. The company's services employ integrated sensors and artificial intelligence to detect pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, and road works, enabling users to have a safe and enjoyable on-demand traveling experience in autonomous vehicles.
Waymo currently services more than 10,000 taxi trips per week without any major safety issues in its three pilot cities. By summer 2024, the company hopes to grow its weekly ridership tenfold. In order to achieve this ambitious target, Waymo needs to greatly increase the number of riders looking for trips in their self-driving taxis and very recently entered into a partnership with Uber. With over 100 million monthly active riders, the partnership offers Waymo fantastic potential to grow demand for its new taxi network. This potential is amplified by Waymo’s plans to expand across a number of US cities over the next few years, especially as the Waymo network expands to more cities across the United States over the next few years.
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