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Which are the CEE companies with the highest valuation?

Dragon, CEE companies
Image credit: Unsplash

In order to ignite the interest of overseas investors and celebrate the developments in the CEE tech ecosystem, the Digital Poland Foundation recently released its Digital Champions CEE Report. The comprehensive study contains a ranking with the top 100 most valuable CEE companies. 

Companies from 19 countries were included in the report. The SEE companies with the highest valuations according to the study are Bulgarian web hosting provider Siteground, the Croatian communication unicorn Infobip and the Romanian cybersecurity company Bitdefender. 

The three types of companies that were featured in the report are Digital Phoenixes which have enterprise value bigger than $1B, Digital Dragons with a value around $250M, and Digital Wolves with enterprise value over $100M but below $250M. The report didn’t use the phrase unicorn as these are companies that are in the hands of private capital.

The Recursive team gathered the key highlights of the report and also explored the numbers behind the report. 

Why invest in CEE technology? Key findings

The numbers of the report speak for themselves as they highlight the total worth of the 100 most valuable technology companies: $130B. The top two verticals in terms of capitalization are SaaS which accounts for 28% of the total CEE valuation, and e-commerce, also 28%. 

When it comes to the year of establishment of the top-performing companies, the CEE digital enterprises founded between 2002 and 2006 have the biggest total capitalization of more than $50B. The companies established between 2012 and 2016 seem to catch up with a capitalization of nearly $14B. 

A snapshot of the report
A snapshot of the report

Additionally, the report highlights that the CEE is leapfrogging other regions in Europe in the last 20 years. Digital companies from the 19 Central Eastern European countries have outperformed companies from the Nordics and Benelux regions. Now they are on a path to catch up with the DACH countries. 

Read more:  What has changed in the CEE startup ecosystem in the last 10 years?

“The Digital Champions CEE 2021 shows the great talent, working mentality, and tenacity of the founders that come out of our region. It may be surprising how many companies with more than $1B have their roots in the region and it may look like an overnight success, but there are factors that are deeply rooted in CEE founders’ DNA. Most of the countries in the region are small in terms of GDP and population, which forces any product and business model to be designed as a global one,” says Boris Hristov, Head of Technology M&A, Investment Banking Division at Raiffeisen Bank International, and contributor to the report. 

More about the ranking and the methodology

The ranking of the top 100 tech leaders comprises companies that are either listed on public markets or have been backed by private investors. The study gathered a list of more than 28 000 companies for which it used various data sources such as direct calls to regional VC/PE associations including BVCA, as well as direct calls to regional venture capital funds and startup supporting associations. 

In order to be called a Digital Champion, companies had to meet a number of criteria. Therefore in the ranking are included companies with revenue coming mostly from the CEE region, or owned by regional investors. Additionally, most of the revenue has to come from digital channels and the companies need to have a valuation bigger than $100M. To simplify the ranking, the report analyzed six categories of companies: cybersecurity, e-commerce, fintech, media and entertainment, SaaS, and digital infrastructure. 


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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.