As the term ‘unicorn’ goes broke from overuse, what’s actually rare?

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Alex Wilhelm Contributor Alex Wilhelm is the editor-in-chief of Crunchbase News and co-host of Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast. More posts by this contributor Equity transcribed: How to avoid an IPO How to avoid an IPO

On Wednesday a few unicorns were born. You’ve already forgotten their names if you learned them at all (Tip: It was Marqeta and Ivalua.)

Don’t worry, I’m not cross with you. It’s merely that there are so many unicorns in the market today — they stampede by the hundred in 2019 — that they are impossible to keep tabs on.

In fact, so many firms now make the cut that we’ve gotten into the habit of torturing the word “unicorn” to mean more than what it was originally tasked to describe. As we wrote recently, there are undercorns now, and decacorns. Toss in minotaurs and horses and the inevitable centacorns and see, we’re all bored.

Paraphrasing Asimov, successive shocks lead to decreasing impact. So has the phrase unicorn lost all meaning. As I joked the other day, it now mostly means “middle-aged startup.” Even our redefinition of the word “startup” allowed for firms to be worth several billion and


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