A Growing List Of Unicorns Haven’t Raised Funding For 3-Plus Years

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Startups — much like cars — can usually go only so long before needing to refuel.

How long, of course, will vary. Some go years before topping off again following a big fundraise. Others need to refill more frequently.

The longer it takes, however, the less likely it becomes that fresh investment is forthcoming. That’s concerning given that for a growing list of U.S. unicorns, it’s been more than three years since their last fundraise, an analysis of Crunchbase data shows.

Unicorns that haven’t raised for 3+ years

Who’s on the list? Using Crunchbase data, we identified a sample set of 28 private companies that have a peak valuation of $1 billion or more but haven’t raised a round for years. Most closed their last round between three and four years ago.

Below, we list all the selected companies, along with business models and prior funding:

Representative industries range from connected fitness to enterprise software to digital health. There are consumer-facing companies that generated a lot of buzz several years ago — like local secondhand sales platform OfferUp, luggage-maker Away, or connected fitness brand Zwift.

In many ways, the list is reminiscent of a playlist featuring the greatest hits of 2020. These days, they seem like the startup equivalent of the band that can do the county fair circuit, but won’t be filling stadiums. They’re still around, just not top of mind.

Some were particularly prodigious fundraisers at their peak. Of the 28 companies on our list, five have raised $500 million or more in equity funding to date.

Of those, the largest fundraiser is Miami-based cloud kitchen operator Reef Technology, which raised $1.5 billion in two rounds led or co-led by SoftBank in late 2018 and 2020. But investor interest in the space, which peaked during the pandemic, has since dried up.

Others that raised more than $500 million in total funding also haven’t closed a new round since 2020. One is Symphony Communication Services, a provider of collaboration software for the financial services industry. Another is Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a road-safety platform, which raised $500 million from SoftBank in 2018.

Layoffs and cutbacks abound, along with some closures

Not everyone on the list is still around. Quite a few that have endured, meanwhile, have made some steep cuts along the way.

Proteus Digital Health is one that didn’t make it. The Redwood City, California-based company, a developer of sensor-equipped “smart pills,” raised more than $490 million and was once valued at $1.5 billion. It filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020.

Packable, the parent company of Amazon seller Pharmapacks, also hit some apparently insurmountable hurdles. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2022 after plans for a SPAC merger fell through.

On the consumer-facing front, meanwhile, we’re also seeing some stiff cutbacks. At Zwift, for example, the company’s co-CEO stepped down earlier this month amid a broader round of layoffs.

Also this month, luggage-maker Away reportedly cut staff by 25%.

Given the current tough fundraising and exit environment, it was actually pretty common to see companies on our list with one or more layoff announcements in the past two years. We did not attempt a comprehensive tally.

The clock is ticking

So how much more runway do these onetime unicorns have ahead? A prior Crunchbase News analysis found startups that raise a round commonly have only a short break before they’re fundraising again. Among U.S. companies that go on to close Series B funding after a Series A, for instance, the median is just under 2 years to do so, according to data from 2012 to 2023.

It’s reasonable to expect companies funded around the market peak from 2020 to early 2022 might have a bit longer to wait. Many startups raised exceptionally large rounds, and have subsequently cut burn rates to make their cash stretch further.

But while fundraising can take longer than expected, it can’t be delayed indefinitely. Crunchbase data shows it’s uncommon to see a gap of four years or more between Series A and Series B rounds, for example. Historical trends for later rounds aren’t too different.

Related Crunchbase Pro list:

Related reading:

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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