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According to Ministry of SMEs and Startups,
Number of unicorn companies, non-listed companies with a corporate value of KRW 1 trillion or more, reaches 22 as of the end of 2022, which is an increase by four companies from 18 at the end of 2021.
Despite the complex crises of high interest rates, high inflation, and high exchange rates, the numbers of unicorn companies(22), new unicorn companies(7), and companies that graduate from unicorn status(3) reaches record high.
The Ministry of SMEs and Startups (Minister LEE Young) announced that as of the end of 2022, the number of Korean unicorn companies, which are non-listed companies with a corporate value of KRW 1 trillion or more, reached 22. (14 companies listed on the U.S. market intelligence platform “CB Insights” + 8 additional companies as identified by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups(Number based on CB Insights up to 2019; from 2020, companies as identified by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups were added in the number))
The number of Korean unicorn companies, which was 18 at the end of 2021, increased by 7 in 2022. Three companies SOCAR (Listed on KOSPI), APROGEN (M&A), TMON (M&A)) became listed, or went through M&A, graduating from unicorn status. In conclusion, as of the end of 2022, the number of unicorn companies reached 22, which is the highest number to date since the government started to keep track on the number of unicorn companies.
Due to the complex economic crises, in 2022, the number of unicorn companies worldwide decreased by less than half (△52.1%, CB Insights). Nonetheless, in Korea, 7 companies became unicorns, which is the same as the number in 2021, when Korea had the highest number of new unicorn companies.
Among them, three companies (IGAWorks, Tridge, Korea Credit Data) became unicorn companies after being selected for the Ministry of SME and Startups’ special surety program for pre-unicorn companies.
Also, the number of companies that graduated from unicorn status in Korea last year was three, which is the highest to date. Considering the number of unicorn graduates worldwide decreased by 73.2%, this is a significant achievement.
New unicorn companies this year are as follows:
① Megazone Cloud provides cloud computing infrastructure and solutions, and became the first Korean unicorn in the cloud sector.
② Shiftup is a mobile game startup that developed the top game in sales (Destiny Child, The Goddess of Victory: Nikke) in two large application stores (Google Play, App Store).
③ IGAWorks provides customer analysis services and customized marketing services based on big data, and was selected for the Ministry of SME and Startups’ special surety program for pre-unicorn companies in 2020.
④ GC Company is responsible for the comprehensive travelling platform “Good Choice” where consumers can book not only accommodation, but also flights and restaurants.
⑤ Oasis is a 24-hour fresh food delivery company that is the only one making a profit in the Korean early morning delivery market. It will be listed on KOSDAQ at the end of February, and will then become “the first listed company in the e-commerce market.”
⑥ Tridge is the world’s only platform for agricultural and fishery product data and trade. After being selected for the special surety program for pre-unicorns in 2022, the startup became the first unicorn in the agricultural sector in Korea by attracting additional investment.
⑦ Korea Credit Data was selected for the special surety program for pre-unicorns in 2020. The company provides services for more than 2 million companies with its management solution “Cashnote.”
Minister LEE Young stated, “Although 2022 was a tough year for startups, the number of not only new unicorn companies but also unicorn graduates was the highest.”
LEE added, “To provide funds needed by startups at the right time, the Ministry has provided incentives accelerating investment to venture capitals and expanded the scale of technology surety. We will also quickly implement private venture fund of funds and the multiple voting rights system to create a venture ecosystem that can continue to create unicorn companies.”
Source: Ministry of SMEs and Startups (Feb. 13, 2023)