The AR & VR unicorn club is growing

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Since Mark Zuckerberg bought Oculus for $2.1 billion in 2014 the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) markets have taken off at a rapid speed. Unicorn status – when a startup is valued at or exceed $1 billion – used to be what the term implies: very rare. It is still rare, but happening more frequently and at a faster pace than ever before.

Digi-Capital has forecasted that AR and VR could reach $150B revenue by 2020, with the AR market worth around $120 billion and VR $30 billion. This prediction seems to be on target. Just last week Magic Leap announced a mammoth Series C funding round of $793.5 million which brought the total funding for the augmented reality company to $1.39 billion and a valuation for the startup at a staggering $4.5 billion. Light speed growth for a company founded only five years ago.

The exclusive unicorn club has just been joined by another startup that has been catapulted to new heights by a large investment. Neurotechnology startup, MindMaze, has just secured a large investment from Hinduja Group entity valuing the company at over $1billion after selling less than a third of the company to the group.

MindMaze was founded by Dr Tej Tadi, a neuroscientist, in 2011 to develop technologies that help patients recover from brain injuries. The company has 52 employees, including physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, neuroscientists, roboticists and experts in machine learning. MindMaze previously raised $10 million in 2012 from various investors, valuing the company at $100 million. Now valued at $1 billion the latest financial developments translate into a ten-fold growth in just four years.

The investment makes the Switzerland-based MindMaze one of three unicorns in the AR and VR space, the third being Blippar, a London-based AR company valued at $1.5 billion.

Founded in August 2011, Blippar specialises in augmented reality software which enables users to scan a brand logo and unlock exclusive content about brands like Coca-Cola, Craft and Nestle who are Blippar clients. The app, launched in 2011, now has 50 million users worldwide who get digital content about objects by simply pointing their smartphones at the object of their interest.

More than 200 employees in 11 offices worldwide give the startup great growth potential. With an injection of £1.5m ($2.1 million) from Barclays in April 2015, Blippar’s value shot up to $1.5 billion making the company a British tech unicorn. Rich Mistra is CEO of Blippar. The company is working on a “visual browser” that would allow users to find out information about any object just by looking at it through their phones, an action called “blipping”.

According to data from CB Insights there are currently 140 unicorns globally with a total accumulative valuation of $506 million.