The ups and downs of unicorn valuations have dominated the Twitter conversation around tech for much of the past year, both in Canada and elsewhere. How does Canada differentiate itself when referring to startups valued at $1 billion or more?
The mighty narwhal.
While this carnivorous whale – distinguished by its single tusk – is an actual creature as opposed to a mythical one, try to find someone who’s seen a narwhal in the flesh. The animal’s scarcity makes it an appropriate metaphor.
There have been more than 1.8 million impressions from 175 mentions by 124 users between October 31 and April 30. Here’s what the conversation looks like:
TIL startup “unicorns” are called “narwhals” in Canada (fittingly) via #calgarymetro pic.twitter.com/fw3UQ9Sa5y
— Carl Franzen (@carlfranzen) December 22, 2015
Carl Franzen, Online director at Popular Science, likely found that paragraph of text in a syndicated version of this story from the Canadian Press: Evolving B.C. Tech Startups Threaten to disrupt ‘dinosaur’ industries. Indeed, one of Canada’s most famous
unicorns narwhals is Vancouver, B.C.-based Hootsuite.
Who are the other narwhals? Check out Visual Capitalist’s handy infographic from October 2015:
Have You Met The Narwhal Club? Canada’s $1 Billion+ Tech Startups: http://t.co/O1BvF8eQ8X pic.twitter.com/gWtxqAu8wn
— Visual Capitalist (@VisualCap) December 18, 2014
Unicorns haven’t been completely sidelined in Canada, though. The unicorn conversation often includes talk of venture capital. One example is this tweet from Startup Canada, which appears in the Twitter conversation:
Unicorns, dinosaurs and category kings, OH MY! The new #StartupPodcast w/ David Nault at https://t.co/HuzUctA7tf pic.twitter.com/7wDCNt2urG
— Startup Canada (@Startup_Canada) January 31, 2016
The episode featured here is an interview with David Nault, a principal at iNovia. You can listen to it here:
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VCs are not only talking about the industry on podcasts. Another story that bubbled up in the Twitter conversation was this PE Hub Network’s article on 2016 predictions for Canadian tech startups and venture capital.
Ten Canadian startup and venture capital predictions for 2016 https://t.co/ru8jBUpCCe #startups #unicorn
— Sociative Unicorns (@SocUnicorns) March 1, 2016
Written by Jim Orlando, the piece explores IPOs, virtual reality and augmented reality, and an increase in activity from U.S. venture investors.
For more on startup monikers, check out our piece here on how the cockroach crawled into tech sector parlance.