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In Search of Unicorns?

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Monoceros, Canis Minor, and Atelier Typographique, Sidney Hall, etcher. 1825.

In the business world, unicorns are private startups valued at over one billion dollars. However, if you search for books with the subject of unicorns in our collections, you’re more likely to find titles like Unicorns: The Myths, Legends and Lore or Unicorns and Other Magical Creatures.

The term unicorn, according to the Oxford Dictionary, can mean “something that is highly desirable but difficult to find or obtain.” When first used for business ventures in a 2013 TechCrunch article, “Welcome to the Unicorn Club,” by Aileen Lee, it was rare for startups to reach that level of valuation. Today, Crunchbase’s Unicorn Leaderboard lists nearly 500, reflecting the rapid growth of startups and investors after the recession in 2008.

Venture capital investors are on the lookout for the next unicorn: What small startup is going to bring a huge return on their investment? To find overviews on valuable ventures in our print collections, try subject terms such as Venture Capital, Entrepreneurship or Business Enterprises–Valuation, which will display books like Launching Successful Ventures and Valuing an Entrepreneurial Enterprise.

Business valuations fluctuate, so online resources are useful because they can be updated more regularly. While our subscription databases and periodicals are accessible on-site only, they are listed below along with select freely available sources.

  • Crunchbase is a database that tracks funding rounds, investments, and other data on businesses. Some parts of the database are available freely through their website.
  • CB Insights Research is Crunchbase’s research portal with articles and reports on venture capital and startup topics; many are freely available.
  • ABI/Inform and Business Source Complete are article databases, where a search for unicorns and business valuation will pull up articles from The Economist, Fortune, Forbes, and Bloomberg Businessweek, along with trade journals and scholarly articles.
  • Business Valuation Update is a periodical on current valuation topics. The most recent issues are also available online through our Business Source Complete database.
  • A variety of organizations collect data on entrepreneurs and venture capital startups, such as Pitch
    Cover image from Running Press

    book’s Unicorn Report and the Kauffman Foundation’s annual Growth Entrepreneurship. 

If you’re still in the mood for some magic after researching startups, try chapter five on “Money Magic” from The Practical Witch’s Spell Book and let us know if you’ve found any unicorns.

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