Eleven Labs the sixth Polish unicorn?

Officially, there are five unicorn startups in Poland: Allegro, InPost Group, CD Projekt, Pracuj Group, and Techland. Eleven Labs is sixth, but what about DocPlanner, Booksy, Text or Modivo?

For a startup to become a unicorn, it must have a proven valuation of more than $1 billion. It’s easier for listed companies to demonstrate this status than private ones unless one gets a significant cash injection from VC/PE funds, as happened to Eleven Labs in January 2024. Another round of $80 million funding made it the youngest unicorn in Polish business history. The startup was founded in January 2022. A year later, it launched the world’s best text-to-speech synthesizer. And 2 years later, it already had more than 1 million customers!

It is a huge success, considering the number of new unicorns drastically decreases yearly. By the end of 2021, there were about 900. 311 joined in 2022, but by mid-2023, only another 50.

The five chosen

Since all of our unicorns are technology companies, let’s look at them individually. What they represent, what they do, and how they got to the unicorn level. And all under the assumption that current valuation, not historical, decides:

  • Allegro is Poland’s largest e-commerce platform. It has changed hands for much more significant than $1 billion. It is a publicly-traded company with a capitalization of $8 billion. Its only price fluctuation was in 2021 when its valuation fell by half.
  • The InPost Group is a Polish courier company operating in 9 European countries which delivers 0.75 billion parcels to customers annually. When it went public on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 2021, its valuation was estimated at €7-8 billion. Within a year, however, it had fallen to €3.1 billion. It now stands at €7.18 billion but is already on the Polish WSE.
  • CD Projekt, in turn, is Poland’s largest producer of video games for PCs and SA consoles. After the failed release of Cyberpunk, its valuation dropped from $7 billion to $2.5 billion but then returned to $3.9 billion. The company has sold “only” 25 million copies (in the case of The Witcher 3: Wild Gon, it was 50 million copies). It is working on the sequel by moving production to newly established offices in Boston and Vancouver.
  • The Pracuj Group manages recruitment websites, the best known of which is Pracuj.pl. Its current valuation is hovering around $1 billion, but its share price is upward.
  • Techland is Poland’s second-largest producer of video games for PCs and consoles, behind CD Projekt. In mid-2023, the Chinese company Tencent purchased a majority stake (67%) for $1.5 billion. The owner, Pawel Marchewka, retained the rest of the shares (33%) and the position of CEO.

Seventh unconfirmed

A company that undoubtedly has the potential for a unicorn is DocPlanner, but this has never been officially confirmed. It’s one of the world’s largest companies connecting doctors with patients, having grown out of the popular FamousLekarz in Poland. Its services can now be used by up to 100 million patients. The London-based specialist portal unquote reported that DocPlanner had surpassed its $1 billion valuation in August 2021. It revealed that the company had already completed an undisclosed financing round after becoming a unicorn. The interested party itself has not confirmed this until today.

Other candidates

The above list does not include other Polish tech startups, which have often been typified as unicorns but do not meet any of the criteria:

  • Wirtualna Polska Group owns the first Polish-language website, established in 1995, but is also active in other media and e-commerce. It is not far from becoming a unicorn, as its current valuation is less than $900 million.
  • Text (formerly LiveChat) is a company that offers software for chatting with customers over the Internet to improve sales, which has been hugely popular since the Pandemic. Its products are currently used by over 40,000 companies, institutions and offices. However, the company’s current valuation is slightly over $600 million.
  • PlayWay, Huuuge Games and Ten Square Games are all game developers. The valuation of none of them has approached $1 billion ($528 million, $451 million and $190 million, respectively).
  • Modivo (formerly eobuwie.pl) is Poland’s most significant online footwear and accessories company. The last round at the top of the tech bubble in 2021 valued the company at $1.1 billion. In the meantime, all company valuations have fallen sharply. Moreover, in 2021, the company still had a net profit of €30 million, but in 2022, it lost €26 million. It did not prevent its owner, CCC Group, from claiming in mid-2023 that its valuation was $1.26 billion, but these figures are not confirmed. Especially since CCC Group, a publicly traded company, is currently valued at $1 billion, not a technology company by any stretch of the imagination.

Booksy

A good candidate for a unicorn is still Booksy. It’s a platform that allows customers to book and pay for appointments at local beauty companies and hairdressers. After moving its headquarters to the US and raising $120 million from investors, the company boasted that it already serves 13 million customers. But it never disclosed its valuation.

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TOP-3

  1. DeepL Translator is a powerful next-generation online translation tool based on neural networks. The service supports 26 languages (as of May 2022).
  2. Eleven Labs is the world’s best technology for speech synthesis.
  3. Tomasz Czajka, Flight Software Engineer at SpaceX. He was a member of the team that was the first from Poland to win the 2003 ICPC finals.

TOP-3 on the Polish site (links lead to the English version)

  1. Booksy is the world’s most popular app for booking appointments at hairdressers and beauty salons.
  2. Vasco Translator V4 is a translation device that works online in 150+ countries, speaks 75 languages, and translates captions from photos from 108 in 0.5 sec.
  3. TOP-10 Polish companies in the gamedev sector 2023. The leader is CD Projekt, ahead of Techland and PlayWay.

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