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Topic: [ncsm-members] V. Where do unicorns go to university?
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Jerry P. Becker

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Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] V. Where do unicorns go to university?
Posted: Apr 5, 2017 5:20 PM
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From the BBC NEWS, 8 February 2017. SEE
Where do unicorns go to university?

By Sean Coughlan

SIDEBAR PHOTO: What's the stamping ground for the elusive group of
start-up billionaires known as "unicorns"?
Unicorns are rare beasts - not only creatures of myths but also, in
the financial sector, the almost magical makers of money.

The term "unicorn" is used to describe start-ups that have grown from
nothing to be worth at least a billion dollars.

It's tough enough for start-ups to make any money, but to go from an
idea sketched on an envelope to making a billion is uber-unusual.

And Uber is one of these tech-powered unicorns.

But what is their natural habitat? Where are these unicorns likely to
have been trained?

Financial elites

In terms of their universities, there doesn't seem to be any romantic
fairytale beginning for would-be unicorns.

They are not self-taught entrepreneurs, but are more likely to have
gone to expensive and highly-selective institutes.
SIDEBAR PHOTO: Image caption The unicorns have made their money in
online businesses. Image copyright iStock
A league table, drawn up by international accountancy software firm
Sage, shows that members of this financial elite are likely to have
had an elite education. [SEE THIS ]

The top of the table by some distance is Stanford University in
California, an institution that has been integral to the growth of
Silicon Valley.

Builders of "knowledge hubs" or "tech hubs" around the world have
sought to replicate Silicon Valley's mixture of academic research,
business innovation and supportive investors.

And this unicorn league shows Stanford accelerating quickly in this
competition for successful start-ups.

Tech moguls

Harvard, the world's wealthiest university, is in second place, with
US institutions taking nine of the top 15 places, with many of these
entries dominated by tech start-ups.

The first non-US university is in fourth place with a combined figure
for all the Indian Institutes of Technology.

This network of 23 institutions across India has a notoriously
competitive entrance exam - often claimed to be the most
oversubscribed applications process in the world.
SIDEBAR PHOTO: Image caption Stanford University has been the most
popular starting point for unicorns. Image copyright iStock
The UK's entry in this unicorn league is Oxford University in seventh
place. Although the London School of Economics also features in the
following pack, just outside the top 15.

France, Israel, Germany and Canada all make a single appearance in
the rankings. In Canada, there is a sub-species of unicorns, referred
to as "narwhals" (whales, sometimes referred to as the unicorns of
the sea).

So why are these unicorns concentrated in these universities?

Prof Frank Furedi, author and social commentator, said that on visits
to top US universities he had been struck by the self-confidence of
such young student entrepreneurs.

"There is a sense of enormous possibilities... everything in that
culture reinforces that," he says.

These universities provide networks of like-minded, ambitious,
competitive youngsters, who expect to have online start-ups that can
accelerate much more quickly than traditional businesses.

He says that often these young entrepreneurs might be at old and
prestigious universities, but they are often from immigrant families.

Don't follow the herd

If these new billionaires are clustered in a narrow pool of
universities, the gender breakdown is even less inclusive - with men
accounting for 94% of the unicorns.

A third of these unicorns were solo entrepreneurs - while the other
two-thirds were co-founders.

Perhaps what's more surprising is that for 60% of the unicorns, this
was their first business. And for a further 23% it was their second -
suggesting that for a considerable majority there was no back-story
of failure.

And the most typical time for reaching unicorn status was four years
after founding - although there were firms that took up to 30 years
to turn into a billion-dollar shaped unicorn.
SIDEBAR PHOTO: Image caption India's elite technology institutes are
the nearest rivals to the US unicorns. Image copyright iStock
The number of unicorns rose sharply in the years after 2012 and
peaked in 2015, before slipping down again in 2016.

Of course, as well as admiring the unicorns from a distance - there
will be people wondering how they can get on board themselves.

Where would you find a unicorn?

Stanford's own business school has published advice saying that if
you're looking for the next unicorn, "look for the horse running away
from the herd".

They suggest that it's better not to look in the "rear-view mirror"
for previous successes, but to look towards the so-far unknown.

But the evidence of this league table suggests that unicorns are not
going to be found wandering around anything resembling traditional

By far the biggest sector for unicorns is under the heading of
"consumer internet", followed by financial services and e-commerce.

This financial alchemy is heavily driven by the online economy. Cloud
computing seems to have a silver lining.

Unicorn stamping grounds

. Stanford University

. Harvard University

. University of California

. Indian Institutes of Technology

. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

. University of Pennsylvania

. University of Oxford

. Tel Aviv University

. Cornell University

. University of Southern California

. University of Waterloo


. WHU - Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management

. University of Michigan

. Brigham Young University


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