They usually come from wealthy families, are men, and build the success of their companies on… “Dope” growth. In taking advantage of the cracks in the system, and more than just innovation, they reduce costs thanks to technology. However, it has profoundly changed our daily lives, and is surrounded by an aura of turmoil. They are the founders of the “unicorns” – these Companies worth more than a billion dollarsJournalist Paula Solanas, who has written about these startups for six years, is publishing a book about four of their greatest icons in Spain.
Peninsula’s ‘Unicorn Club’ transcends the myth spread in press releases – Steve Jobs’ famous garage – and Dive into the shadows surrounding Glovo, Cabify, Jobandtalent and Idealista. “These companies act as technology intermediaries: they saw that there was a very large pool of demand and a very large pool of supply, so they put them together and took advantage of being the ones making that connection,” Solanas summarizes.
However, the business model is often only feasible Based on reducing labor costs and simplifying operations At the same time, he is less innovative than marketing dictates: “Most of the technology companies we usually talk about are online-only companies, meaning they sell online.”
Oscar Pierre, the founder of Glovo, comes from one of those Catalan families “In the summer he usually sails a boat among the rocks of the Costa Brava and spends the winter in the warmth of the fireplace among the mountains of Cerdanya.”As the author narrates in her book, which traces the beginning of a lineage well versed in business to her great-grandfather. From more humble origins, Juan de Antonio, founder of Cabify, earned his master’s degree at Stanford University (USA) with a scholarship from the Ministry of Education.
Juan Urdiales and Felipe Navio are the founders of the temporary work app Jobandtalent: one is Andalusian and the other from the Balearic Islands, they met in Madrid at the Catholic business school Icade. Jesús Encinar, founder of Idealista, also studied at Icade, who later earned an MBA at Harvard, he claims, after going into debt to do so.
Aside from these cases, it is evident that It is common for entrepreneurs to be men and have a comfortable social status.Allowing them to start their journey thanks to the three elements: family, friends and goons. As the author points out, and in the face of slogans like “work hard, play hard” advocated by Cabify: “When you have a good safety net to prevent a fall from being fatal, you can always try again.”
A legal battle accompanies the success and rise of these companies
Most “unicorns” would be like that It is not possible to continue without the support of investment funds. It also showed the companies covered in the book, with the exception of Idealista. “It’s like giving them steroids,” Solanas sums up. Only the support of these funds – which is not unconditional, because they hope to be able to make the investment profitable sooner or later by almost always selling – makes the business model possible, at least during the first years.
Neither Glovo (founded in 2014), Cabify (2011) nor Jobandtalent (2009) have been able to close the year with a net profit so far. This reliance on third-party resources generates dynamics of “pressure” to overcome challenges that are, however, not surprisingly neutralized by the “identification” that some employees feel with the company project.
“It’s like the work situation at Erasmus. The boundaries between personal and work are blurred in a workforce that is usually young and ambitious,” Solanas says. Hence the group photos with company logo T-shirts and pure smiles, he adds.
Cracks in the system
This book confirms that Glovo wouldn’t be what it is if its delivery drivers were company employees instead of freelancers (What the Ryder Act attempts to address, so far unsuccessfully.) The same applies to Cabify, which also works with Vehicle for Hire Drivers (VTC) licenses designed for another type of activity.
If temporary work had not been so widespread, Jobandtalent would not have been such a successful experiment. If rental prices had not risen so dramatically and temporary rentals had not been used fraudulently, Idealista would not be as ubiquitous as it is today, as this book asserts.
“The story of unicorns can never be explained without taking into account the legal battle that in many cases accompanies their rise,” Solanas recalls in his book, adding in another paragraph: “It is a reality.” “But startups also create instability, create toxic work environments, and break laws.”