The UK valley of the ‘decacorns’ comes alive with new entrants

THE UK RANKS third globally for $10bn tech businesses, with a total of 12 — behind the US, which has 157, and China, 38.

The UK has doubled the number of companies at this stage in six months, with seven reaching $10bn valuations in 2021: Revolut, Wise, Arrival, eToro,, Farfetch, and Ocado.

The UK’s new “decacorns” hail from a variety of tech sub-sectors, including cleantech, fintech, insurtech and e-commerce. Through 2020 and 2021, the rapid growth of the UK’s highest-value tech companies was accelerated by changes to how companies access late-stage investment. The pandemic was a factor, as consumers began to rely on tech for deliveries, healthcare and solutions to social challenges.

The growth of these UK tech companies was also driven by changing national and global priorities, such as the UK’s push to reduce carbon emissions and becoming net-zero by 2050. Then there is the growing popularity of fintech and cryptocurrencies.

Online share trading platform eToro reached a valuation of $10.4bn in March; the company acquired five million new customers in 2021. Arrival, the electrical vehicle start-up, raised $400m, and completed its NASDAQ IPO — taking its valuation to $13bn.

Payments scale-up closed a $450m Series C round, taking its valuation to $15bn. e-Commerce platform Farfetch reached a valuation of $16.7bn, and Ocado, the online grocer, reached $20bn.

Fintech giants Revolut and Wise are the most recent companies to join the ranks. Revolut reached a valuation of $33bn in July, making it the UK’s most valuable tech company, while Wise reached $11bn after its IPO on the LSE.

The UK’s 12 decacorns employ almost 50,000 people (49,499), and have raised $9.78bn since their inception with investment from around the world.

The majority of investment comes from the US (54 percent), Asia (29 percent), the UK (14 percent) and Europe (four percent). The majority of the decacorn founders were born outside of the UK, hailing from Israel, Estonia, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland and the US. Only two of the UK’s decacorns have all-British founding teams.