Square, Inc.: Financing a Unicorn
In 2014, mobile payment company Square, Inc., based in San Francisco, California, was one of an increasing number of venture capital financed firms with valuations above US$1 billion, which had become known as "unicorns." By September 2014, the company had raised $371 million over five rounds of venture capital financing. Since the first funding round had been almost five years previous, it was possible that venture funding investors would be pushing for an exit. The firm considered an acquisition offer and an initial public offering, but it was apparent that neither option would yield its desired $6 billion exit value. With $139 million in cash on hand, Square, Inc., was on track to use $138 million of cash in 2014. It approached venture capital investors for a sixth round of financing. It was then up to the investors to determine if they could agree to suitable terms. Mark Simonson is affiliated with Arizona State University.