Detroit Now Has 4 Unicorn Startup Companies

April 28, 2019

Over the past five years that Bamboo has been growing in the City of Detroit, we’ve watched our tech and startup community grow with us.

What started first with the move of Quicken Loans to Downtown Detroit, has been a catalyst for many other tech startups and tech corporations to eye Detroit as a market to land and expand in. Now, we’re seeing something more unique - home grown tech startups in Detroit are reaching unicorn valuations. A unicorn company is a technology startup hitting a valuation of $1 Billion dollars, quite a big achievement for any startup company.

Just this past year, and really in the past few months, three more unicorn companies have flourished. Metro Detroit can now call itself home to four tech startups of this size and scale.

Is this a sign that Detroit’s tech community growing?

Michigan is 1 of 13 states with a unicorn startup, and 1 of 10 with more than one.*CBNISights 2018
Michigan is 1 of 13 states with a unicorn startup, and 1 of 10 with more than one.*CBNISights 2018

Very few states in our country are home to a unicorn startup, as founder and local leader Kyle Bazzy pointed out to us. Michigan joins the ranks of only 13 other states with a Unicorn tech startup, and we are 1 of 10 states to see more than one unicorn startup in their region (though this map is nearing two years old).

Let’s pause for a moment. The odds of any company hitting $1 Billion in valuation are extremely low. It’s estimated that less than 1% of technology startups those taking venture capital investment will be likely to hit this valuation.

We hope to see this as a sign of continued growth for the startup community and our region, as we work together to shift from a manufacturing economy, to an economy that’s more diverse and more tech driven.

Meet the four first Unicorn companies in Detroit.

  1. Duo Security - Headquartered and founded in Ann Arbor, Duo Security is a cyber security  company that made two-factor authentication popular. They were announced as our region’s first unicorn startup in 2017 after closing their series d round of $70 Million. They recently sold to Cisco for $2.3 Billion dollars, and have offices in both Ann Arbor and in Detroit at Bamboo.
  2. Rivian - This mobility startup is making their electric and soon autonomous vehicles out of Plymouth, Michigan. Rivian saw two big bumps in funding first $700 Million in investment from Amazon, followed by the recent announcement of $500 Million in investment from Ford.
  3. OneStream Software - This financial software platform for executives recently announced a large round of investment from a private equity firm, putting them on pace to hit a valuation of $1 Billion. Calling Rochester home,  CEO Tom Shea cites Michigan’s talent pool as a factor in driving their growth.
  4. Stock X - The e-commerce platform for sneakers and other fine goods just announced a new round of venture capital funding that is rumored to set them to join the unicorn . club. Current investors in this Dan Gilbert company include Google Ventures and Battery Ventures.

Do you think this is a sign of a growing tech ecosystem?

What will be the next home-grown tech startup to hit this success?

We can’t wait to see it happen here in our region, and hope to see more sharing of knowledge, experience, and pathways to get there for our up and coming founders.