What's far more common in Silicon Valley, New York City, China and other business or technology hubs, where the herd of unicorns already includes many well-known names. But they're not found in places like Buffalo – at least not until now, with ACV Auctions.
ACV, the online marketplace for used cars that started as one of the early 43North winners, said recently that its latest round of investment funding valued the company at more than $1.5 billion – at least on paper.
That's the first time it – or any local startup company – has surpassed the billion-dollar mark in valuation, though well-established Buffalo firms like Delaware North Companies and Rich Products Corp. are already worth far more.
“For a long time, people said I can’t stay here because I can’t build a company here," said Jordan Levy, one of the region's most successful entrepreneurs and venture capital investors, who started and led Seed Capital Partners and Z80 Labs. "This is proof positive that you can stay and remain in Western New York and build a business.”
Not only is it rare to reach that goal, but it's even rarer for it to happen outside the usual technology and investment centers.
“This is a great example that you don’t have to be operating in a traditional venture city or coastal city to develop and become a unicorn,” said Alex Gress, president of 43North. “The days of having to be anchored in a traditional venture city are no longer the case.”
The term "unicorn" was first used in 2013 to describe a startup valued at $1 billion by Aileen Lee, Founder of Cowboy Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. She was referring to how rare it is for a private firm to reach the $1 billion valuation mark. Just 0.07% of the software startups founded since 2000 ever reached $1 billion in value.
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