Every startup begins with an idea, and some ideas see tremendous success while other ideas end up in absolute failure. Not every business is successful, and in our ever-growing world of technology, launching a startup is easier than ever. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a tremendous rise thanks to the Internet. Here are 10 of the most successful billion-dollar tech startups today:
Valuation: $369.54 billion
Google got its start back in 1996 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Utilizing a special algorithm, it proved to be a superior search engine, and in 2004, went public. However, what we know of the tech giant today could have been vastly different. In 1999, Brin and Page seriously considered selling the company for $1 million to competitor Excite, but their offer was rejected.
Valuation: $218.35 billion
Facebook is the number one social network on the planet, recently surpassing 1.39 billion monthly active users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg started what was originally known as "The Facebook" from his Harvard dorm in 2004, and it was initially only open to students at select colleges. Nowadays, it’s rare for someone to not have a Facebook account.
Valuation: $46 billion
Uber is one of those incredibly simple ideas you wish you came up with. It’s completely revolutionized public transportation, and has garnered a lot of negative backlash from taxi companies due to its disruptiveness. Uber is currently available in 57 different countries, and the company is also experimenting with delivery in some select markets.
Valuation: $24.41 billion
One of the most common questions surrounding Twitter when it came on the scene in 2006 was, "why would I post about what I’m eating?" The concept of 140-character messages may have seemed like a terrible idea at the time, but the social network now boasts some 302 million monthly active users.
Have you ever wondered why just 140 characters? Twitter was originally designed for mobile devices, and the character limit for SMS messages is 160 characters. When a tweet would be sent via text, 140 characters would leave space for a person’s username.
Valuation: $15 billion
Snapchat may get attention for some NSFW reasons, but it can also be a fun way to communicate with your friends, and share what’s going on in your day-to-day life through Stories. Just a couple years ago, it was revealed that Facebook offered to acquire the popular app for $3 billion. While it sounded like an insane deal to turn down at the time, Snapchat is now worth five times that.
Valuation: $12 billion
SpaceX was founded by Tesla CEO and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, and has incredibly ambitious plans to change the world of space exploration for the better. The startup has helped lower the cost of launching materials into space, and is currently testing reusable rockets that can land safely back on Earth. Currently, SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to resupply the International Space Station, and its Dragon spacecraft is expected to launch an actual crew in 2017.
Valuation: $11 billion
Like Facebook, Pinterest is one of those services that popped up on the scene, and quickly hit the ground running. According to Pew Research Center, 22 percent of U.S. adults are now on Pinterest, and it’s one of the top 50 most-trafficked sites on the planet. In January, the social network opened up its advertising platform Promoted Pins to everyone in the U.S., and according to Wedbush Securities, it could generate $500 million in revenue in 2016.
Valuation: $10 billion
Airbnb enables anyone to rent out a bedroom or entire apartment or home. All payments are handled securely through the service with no money ever changing hands, and reviews help to give you peace of mind. Airbnb has hosted over 25 million guests in over 34,000 cities worldwide, and its host guarantee includes up to $1 million in the rare case of property damage.
Valuation: $10 billion
Cloud storage is an increasingly more popuar way of storing our important files, and Dropbox has been at the very top among both regular users and businesses. Like a lot of startups, it took a regular idea and made it simpler and easier to use. Thanks to increased competition from the likes of Google and Microsoft, you can get 1TB of storage for just $9.99 per month.
Valuation: $8.4 billion
While the music industry is still trying to figure things out, Spotify has proven that streaming is a welcome model to the masses. In January 2015, the streaming music service announced it had 15 million paying subscribers. The success and attention of Spotify has even attracted the likes of Apple, who reportedly purchased Beats By Dre for $3 billion primarily for the Beats streaming music service it’s expected to relaunch soon.
And one can’t forget rap superstar Jay-Z, who acquired hi-fedelity music streaming service Tidal in January 2015 as part of a $56 million deal.
All these startups have got to where they are today not by having a great idea or improving upon one, but by continually moving forward, and working hard to establish their vision in the marketplace.