Sound the horn: good news for Amsterdam

To gain unicorn status, companies must be privately held and valued at more than €1 billion. Two Amsterdam-based companies have just passed this all-important benchmark.

In September, Mollie raised €115 million to pass a valuation of €1 billion. Then in early October, MessageBird raised around €200 million to achieve a business valuation of €3 billion. This news follows a recent report linking the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to a 12% decline in VC investment in Europe compared with 2019, making these achievements all the more impressive.

A rainbow of tech unicorns

Launched in 2004, Mollie is one of the largest payment service providers (PSP) in Europe, serving nearly 100,000 merchants across the continent. It is forecasting that it will handle more than €10 billion worth of transactions in 2020 and says that its processing volumes grew by 1,000% over the last year in Germany alone.

Meanwhile, MessageBird specialises in a timely pursuit: making it easier to work remotely.  The communications platform originally helped businesses connect with customers through voice messaging, SMS and APIs, a type of software interface that allows two applications to communicate. And just before European cities began lockdowns in response to the coronavirus, MessageBird expanded its platform to include Instagram and WhatsApp.

Mollie and MessageBird join the diverse league of local tech unicorns that includes mobile payment giant Adyen, travel marketplace giant Booking.com, and the long-established navigation specialist TomTom.

Amstel met woonboten Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most valuable tech ecosystems

Even before these announcements, a report from Dealroom already named Amsterdam as one of the most valuable tech ecosystems in Europe, and the city is home to the continent’s fourth-largest number of unicorns.

The report also rated Amsterdam as Europe’s #3 ecosystem in terms of the total value of tech companies founded in the city since 2000. The worth of the local ecosystem has risen to €73 billion from just €10 billion in 2015, primarily due to the skyrocketing values of its growing unicorn herd.

Staying resilient during the pandemic

Despite the issues resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, venture capital investment is still taking place and closely aligns with that seen in previous years in Amsterdam. Startups centred on health and EdTech are doing particularly well, and if local companies can access significant late-stage and international funding, continued growth is likely.

According to Dealroom, Amsterdam is “punching above its weight” when it comes to the performance of local startups, allowing it to closely follow London and Berlin in the ranking.

With the recent elevation of Mollie and MessageBird, Amsterdam’s position has only been strengthened.

Read more startup news from around Amsterdam or check out this startup map of the city.