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A unicorn, in an investment context, is a tech startup that is assessed at a valuation of $1 billion or more; companies valued at more than $10 billion are sometimes called decacorns and those valued over $100 billion called super unicorns.

Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee first used unicorn for this meaning in a November 2013 TechCrunch blog post, “Welcome to the Unicorn Club.” At that time, Lee identified 39 unicorns, including Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest, Yammer, LinkedIn and Instagram. Research firm CB Insights, which maintains a current list, put the number of unicorns in the world at 140 in October 2015.

References to unicorns in this context have become increasingly common as their numbers have grown. According to many investment experts, the burgeoning market for Internet of Things (IoT) products and technologies is likely to make the number of unicorns increase exponentially over the next several years.

In human resource management (HRM), a unicorn is a synonym for purple squirrel. DevOps and Agile infrastructure are often seen mistakenly as unicorn software development and delivery processes with the thought that once implemented, communication and collaboration between teams will work perfectly and be seamless.

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