Research from Play Bigger, a Silicon Valley consultancy that works with VC-backed start-ups, confirms that Unicorns like Uber really are growing faster in recent years, at least as measured by market capitalization. It also examines whether raising lots of private capital prior to an IPO is an important determinant of future success and looks at the best time for these companies to go public. Play Bigger founding partner Al Ramadan believes that although a bubble may be part of the explanation for today’s fast growth, fundamental forces are also at work. “Products and services get discovered and adopted at a speed never seen before,” he says. “Word of mouth today—through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and so on—is just so fast, and it’s the most effective means of marketing.”

File illustration picture showing the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt court earlier this month instituted a temporary injunction against Uber from offering car-sharing services across Germany. San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

See Play Bigger’s research report here: “Time to Market Cap: The New Metric That Matters,” by Al Ramadan, Christopher Lochhead, Dave Peterson, and Kevin Maney

Read the complete Harvard Business Review article here.