Large technology company stocks have been leading the markets higher, and that’s creating some imbalances. In this article, an accounting professor argues that by key measures of valuation technology stocks currently are more highly valued than during the tech stock bubble of the late 1990s. He’s mostly concerned about the unicorns, the relatively new tech companies that attract money at high valuations.
The age of the unicorn likely peaked a few years ago. In 2014 there were 42 new unicorns in the United States; in 2015 there were 43. The unicorn market hasn’t reached that number again. In 2017, 33 new U.S. companies achieved unicorn status from a total of 53 globally. This year there have been 11 new unicorns, according to PitchBook data as of May 15, but these numbers tend to move around, and I believe the 279 unicorns recorded globally in late February by TechCrunch was the peak, where the start-up bubble was stretched to its limit.
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that, on average, unicorns are roughly 50 percent overvalued. The research, conducted by Will Gornall at the University of British Columbia and Ilya Strebulaev of Stanford, examined 135 unicorns. Of those 135, the researchers estimate that nearly half, or 65, should be more fairly valued at less than $1 billion.