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Marketplace unicorns valuations soar to $5.0 trn as record levels of investment see the sector outpace the entire tech market

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  • Total valuation of marketplace unicorns climbed by 70% in 2020, outpacing the  listed tech sector as a whole
  • More global VC investment was made into marketplaces in Q1 2021 than in any other quarter in history – $28bn, up from $9.9bn during the same period last year
  • Since January 2019, valuations of marketplace unicorns have more than doubled – up from $2.2tn to $5.0tn
  • There are now more than 370 marketplace unicorns with the top 30 accounting for 79% of total value ($3.9tn)
  • Covid has been a significant driver of innovation and adoption across marketplaces 
  • The most valuable marketplace categories - fashion, delivery, logistics, and health – all saw triple-figure percentage growth last year

London and Oslo, 12 May, 2021: The global value of marketplace unicorns has soared by 70% since January 2020, fuelled by a rise in innovation and adoption as a result of Covid and record-breaking levels of VC investment, according to new figures. 

 

Data from The Future of Marketplaces report – the first in an upcoming series of reports compiled by Dealroom.co on behalf of Adevinta Ventures and investors Speedinvest – show that marketplace unicorns are now worth a combined total of $5 trillion and there are 30 marketplaces, globally, that are worth more than $20 billion.

 

Year-on-year, marketplace unicorn growth has outpaced both the Nasdaq – which grew 50% during the same period – and the MSCI World Index. In fact, marketplace unicorns grew 2.5 times more than the wider market, which saw growth of 23% across the board. Marketplace unicorns that were founded after 2005 have been growing even faster than  companies founded earlier. 

 

Among the categories that saw the most substantial valuation growth in the wake of Covid, fashion jumped by 142%, followed by food delivery (132%) and digital health (120%). This was a continuation of the trend highlighted in last summer’s The Marketplaces Report, which found healthtech, online learning, recruitment, food delivery and passion economy startups were seeing the most significant growth off the back of Covid-related shifts in consumer and business behaviours. 

 

During the first three months of 2021, global VC investments in marketplaces reached an all-time high of $28bn, driven in part by a number of mega-funding rounds and the emergence of SPACs, as investors sought new ways to gain access to fast-growing privately owned tech companies. Q1 investment in marketplaces has almost tripled since  the same period last year, and totals $4bn more than the previous record-breaking quarter of Q4 2018. The majority of investments in Q1 focused on logistics and last-mile delivery services. 

 

Notable rounds include digital convenience store Gopuff’s $1.2bn Series G raise in March 2021 – the second-largest round of the quarter across all sectors and industries; $800m raised by used car marketplace Cazoo; and food delivery firm Wolt’s $530m Series E round. Investment in Q2 continues to be high, with $12bn of VC money pouring into the sector in the first five weeks of the quarter, including money raised by Travelperk ($160m), Kry ($312m) and BlaBlaCar ($115m). 

 

“Today’s figures show that there is no sign of a slowdown in the growth of marketplaces. The intrinsic value they bring to consumers has been rising for years but really took off during the coronavirus pandemic, as correctly predicted in our first Marketplaces Report in 2020,” said Yoram Wijngaarde, founder of Dealroom.co. “Marketplaces have been able to grow so fast because of the network effects they exploit, and in the last 12 months more of them have become essential to our daily lives.” 

 

"Marketplaces are well placed to take advantage of the market behaviours and shifts that have been born out of Covid, as well as the rise of digital adoption,” said Ovidiu Solomonov, SVP of Global Markets and Ventures at Adevinta. “Looking ahead, we see huge opportunities for marketplaces to create integrated solutions that enhance the experience for users and customers by building new products and services, as well as better integrating transactional models.”

 

“We are seeing increased investor interest in marketplaces because they have demonstrated how they are particularly resilient to economic developments and easier to scale upwards and downwards than traditional, more asset heavy companies," said Mathias Ockenfels, General Partner at Speedinvest. “Also they have benefitted hugely from the overall ‘push’ to digital solutions, accelerated by the pandemic. The net outcome of countries returning to normal is going to be a bigger appetite and customer base for marketplaces, and as the past year has demonstrated, marketplaces are ready to cater to and supply this demand.”

 

 

Marketplace unicorns and the impact of Covid

As of May 2021, there are more than 370 marketplace unicorns, including 81 new additions to the list of billion-dollar companies since January 2020. Of these marketplace giants, the top 30 – led by Amazon, Alibaba and Meituan – account for 79%, or $3.9Tn, of the total combined value; a collective increase in value of $1.6 trillion.

 

Today’s figures confirm the predictions made in 2020’s The Marketplaces Report, which said that accelerating digital adoption would increase the value of marketplaces globally, particularly those operating in healthcare, pharmacies, grocery and food delivery, education and recruitment. In fact, accelerated adoption during the pandemic created tailwinds, resulting in companies beating expectations. 

 

DeliveryHero’s market cap increased by 76% in a year from April 2020 to May 2021, as revenues doubled. HelloFresh saw its valuation increase by 241%, while revenues climbed by 106%. Zalando, the e-commerce fashion site, saw its value increase by 83%, while its revenues climbed by 25%. 

 

Although property, travel, and mobility firms were hit hardest following the initial outbreak – with share prices plummeting by as much as 40% between January and May 2020 – the marketplaces within these industries still ended the year with valuations up 60%, 52% and 32% respectively.

 

 

The future of marketplaces in a post-Covid world

As these figures demonstrate, customers truly embraced a shift to digital during 2020, with 60% of the entire global adult population now online. European households alone already spend $11 trillion per year on goods and services, amid total consumer global spending of $40 trillion. 

 

While Covid has underlined the value of online marketplaces, large swaths of consumer spending remain undigitised, suggesting that considerable growth in the marketplace sector is still to come. To attract and retain more customers,  marketplaces are increasingly either seeking to capture more of the value chain, or are embedding fintech or SaaS in their platforms. Dealroom.co will explore how this works in later marketplace reports. 

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