Digital Champions

Hidden Unicorns: The CEE-region already has 36 “Digital Phoenixes” to offer

Trending Topics ♥️ Future Unicorns
Trending Topics ♥️ Future Unicorns

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is becoming more and more important in the process of digitization. An increasing amount of young companies in the region are true digital champions. Out of the Top 100 of them, a whopping 36 qualify as “Digital Phoenixes”. That means that they are valuated at more than one billion dollars. This is the result of the new “Digital Champions CEE TOP100“-Ranking of the Digital Poland Foundation.

The majority of the digital champions are companies representing e-commerce, media and entertainment, cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, and Fintech.

The report differentiates between:

  • Digital Phoenixes – these are 36 companies with valuations exceeding USD 1 billion
  • Digital Dragons – 25 companies with valuations between USD 250 million and USD 1 billion
  • Digital Wolves – 39 companies with valuations between USD 100-250 million

“CEE-growth is ahead of even China”

The value of the 100 CEE digital champions exceeds USD 130 billion. They are the largest technology companies that drive the region’s digital economy and contribute to the post-pandemic economic rebound. According to the Digital Poland Foundation, the value is over a dozen times more than a decade ago. “In terms of growth rate, we are even ahead of China”, says the Foundation. The total value of the Digital Phoenixes constitutes over 88 percent of the total valuation of all the companies in the ranking.

Digital Champions CEE: Digital Poland launches a new project to promote investments in digitalization

An important thing to note is that a Phoenix is not the same as what is known as a “Unicorn”. A Unicorn draws its valuation of at least one billion dollars from financing rounds. A Phoenix on the other hand is valuated by other factors. Among them are capitalization and revenue. There were specific criteria that qualified the 100 companies as belonging to the CEE region. The valuation was conducted in partnership with several experts and analysts from companies such as Arthur D. Little and EY.

Bulgaria possibly has one “hidden” Unicorn

Because of the somewhat different nature of the valuations of the Digital Champions CEE TOP100, it may come as a surprise that Bulgaria has a Digital Phoenix in the webhosting-firm SiteGround. Technically, Bulgaria doesn’t have a Unicorn as of yet. However, the high valuation of SiteGround by the Digital Poland Foundation begs the question of whether the country has a sort of “hidden” Unicorn. The young company, which was founded in 2004 in Sofia, is quite successful and hosts more than two million domains.

There has never been a better time to be a startup founder in Europe

Also among the digital champions from CEE: 25 “Digital Dragons” (companies with valuations between USD 250 million and USD one billion). Also included are 39 “Digital Wolves” (companies with valuations between USD 100-250 million). The leader of the region in terms of both the number of digital champions as well as their value in Poland. It is home to 45 companies with a total valuation of nearly USD 43 billion. Ten of these companies are Digital Phoenixes, among them well known brands such as Allegro, InPost, CDProjekt, Techland or Wirtualna Polska.

Digital Phoenixes in CEE – Digital Champions Report by Digital Poland © Digital Poland

More Digital Phoenixes possibly on the way

Romania comes in second with six champions valued at USD 31 billion total. This includes the company with the highest valuation in the whole ranking – UiPath. The third-place goes to Estonia. The technological leaders of the baltic state are valued at nearly USD 20 billion. More than half of this number consists of the value of fintechs such as Bolt and Wise. The latter of which is seated in London but was founded by two estonians.

Romanian-founded unicorn UiPath’s IPO raises $1.3b valuing company at $29b

“The CEE-region still represents only a fraction of the European venture capital market, which was worth EUR 49 billion in the first half of 2021. We still lag behind countries such as Germany or the UK both in terms of invested capital and the number of Unicorn companies. This may change faster than we think”, comments Annemarie Dalka, investment director of PFR Ventures fund, one of the partners on the Digital Champions CEE TOP100.

Top 100 Companies in CEE – Digital Champions Report by Digital Poland © Digital Poland
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