What is it about?

This article criticizes the idea that unicorn startups, or companies valued at over $1 billion, are the most critical type of entrepreneurship. The authors argue that these companies are hard to study and that focusing on them ignores the many other essential types of entrepreneurship. They also warn that pursuing unicorn startups may lead to unethical behavior.

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Why is it important?

Instead of focusing on the valuation of startups, the authors suggest that we should focus on the value they create.


Chasing unicorns is a strange idea. At least, that was the feeling I always had when I saw someone on the stage of a startup event propagating unicorn startups as something inherently desirable and worth aiming for and supporting. A good reason to think this through – and I did so with Maximilian Scheu and Per Davidsson in our paper in Journal of Business Venturing Insights. In a nutshell: The unicorn startup is so ill-defined that it is a more or less useless concept for research and policy-making. And chasing unicorns comes with the danger of suppressing more valuable entrepreneurial activity that we as a society definitely need. Our consequence: Success is the value that a startup creates; social and financial valuation should follow from this creation of value.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Kuckertz
University of Hohenheim

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Chasing mythical creatures – A (not-so-sympathetic) critique of entrepreneurship's obsession with unicorn startups, Journal of Business Venturing Insights, June 2023, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.jbvi.2022.e00365.
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