The purpose of this paper is to provide an interpretative framework for the high market capitalisation companies (unicorns) universe, especially with the deployment of the mobile internet. The paper attempts to account for this global trend and to describe its global setting (global data), and its various components.
This paper originates from a research meant to document the phenomenon of high market capitalisation companies (unicorns) through the investigation of a qualitative sample of companies. The paper is based on desk research, a review of literature, review of the technical journals and analysis of annual reports. Going beyond the observations gathered from the sample, the research found that the transformations of the mobile communications ecosystem could provide an adequate framework to understand and put in perspective this phenomenon.
The paper defined unicorns as information technology (IT)-based (software mostly but hardware as well) start-ups that bridge pent-up demand and supply through innovative services and products mostly rooted in the mobile internet wave and the opportunities it brings along. The paper shows that smartphones as games changers facilitate the entry of new players in the mobile markets coming either from the IT sector or from Asia, much to the detriment of the European Union (EU) industry grappling with legacy business models. These companies derived the most from a mobile-first approach and have an outstanding number of unicorns. The paper identifies a potential telecom policy failure especially in the EU: policies have been tilted towards the supply side, without enough consideration of demand. The paper suggests that the EU, after having lead the previous wave, may have missed the last one (mobile broadband) not only from a policy but also from an industry viewpoint.
More research should be done to better investigate what might have been the causes of this apparently missed mobile turn in Europe. The paper deals mostly with the cases of Asia and the USA. As the paper concentrates on the issue of unicorns and mobile technology, some other aspects of the mobile markets may not be taken into account.
The paper suggests reconsidering some policies in the field, to better take into account the role of consumers and to improve the link with other policies like innovation policies.
The paper attempts at giving a better understanding of the evolution of demand and its role in the making of some new services. The paper does not deal with other societal issues like privacy or data.
The main assumption about the role of the mobile internet can shed some light not only about related developments such as the app economy but also about the business and technological environment of an array of start-ups, some of them having reached impressive market capitalisation. The paper reveals how this mobile wave is reshuffling companies, sectors, and geographies. The paper provides one of the first analysis of the unicorn phenomenon.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited