* investors, financial analysts and journalists are fascinated by large sums of money [this is why we are now being taught to pay even more attention to "decacorns" -- unicorns sitting on a cash pile in excess of S10 billion];
* "unicorn" sounds a lot more attractive than "relatively new business with more cash than experience or intangible assets";
* investors are encouraged to put their money where other people have previously put theirs, on the basis that following the herd is the same thing as the wisdom of crowds."What unicorns can tell us about the real world" builds on an earlier piece of Aistemos research, "Billion dollar startups -- do unicorns like patents?", noted shortly on this weblog here last September and now available on the IAM website here. It provides plenty of current patent- and finance-related data (a sample of which we reproduce here).
|Unicorns by sector|
Where do unicorns come from? There is no significant unicorn community outside of the US and China, though India is closest to catching those jurisdictions, as the figure below shows. For all its long-expressed commitment to encouraging investment and protection of innovation, the European Union has made little impact on the overall scene.
|Unicorns by country|
The figure below shows that, while the aggregate numbers show that US companies exist in greater number, it is the Chinese unicorns that have shown the fastest rate of patent-filing growth. They are however more likely to confine their filing to their home market than to make an initial play for wider patent protection:
|Top 10 patent-owning unicorns: patent portfolio size and growth|
After warning about the dangers of drawing too many conclusions from too little data, and observing that companies are increasingly expected to explain their IP policy (or lack of it) for the benefit of investors, the authors conclude:
"What unicorns tell us about the real world is that no two companies, sectors or geographies are the same from an IP perspective. However, understanding these differences matters. The significant advances in the availability and accessibility of IP analytics mean that there is now greater transparency about who is doing what and why. Gone are the days when understanding the importance of patents was confined to IP specialists. While unicorns are rare and magical, patents are the manifestation of real-world innovation".Reminder: you can read the IAM piece in full here.