CNBC is now accepting nominations for the 2023 Disruptor 50 list — our annual look at the most innovative venture-backed companies using breakthrough technology to meet increasing economic and consumer challenges.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, Feb. 17 at 11:59 pm EST.
All independent, privately-owned companies founded after Jan. 1, 2008, are eligible, and any company founder or executive, investor in the company, or any of their communications representatives can access and submit an application.
The companies named to last year’s Disruptor 50 list continue to face a challenging environment in 2023, as sustained higher interest rates and ongoing hikes by the Federal Reserve risk tipping the economy into recession. The IPO market has collapsed in lockstep: only three Disruptor 50 companies went public in 2022, compared to a record-breaking 20 companies in the year prior.
Pullbacks have forced private companies to reckon with frothy valuations that defined an extended bull run for tech, during which some of the more notable Disruptor 50 companies like Uber, Coinbase, Twilio and Snowflake finally went public.
Stripe, which topped 2020’s Disruptor 50 list as the pandemic accelerated a shift to online payments, cut its internal valuation by 28% in July, from $95 billion to $74 billion. Last month, another Disruptor 50 fintech firm, Checkout.com, slashed its internal valuation to $11 billion, versus a previous investor valuation of $40 billion. Through a spokeswoman, the company declined to provide its previous internal valuation. Klarna raised financing at a $6.7 billion valuation last year, an 85% discount to its prior valuation of $46 billion.
Instacart has also taken multiple hits, reducing its valuation from $39 billion to $24 billion in May, then to $15 billion in July, and finally to $10 billion in December.
But it’s workers who have been hit the hardest by these severe haircuts: at least one-third of companies on the 2022 Disruptor 50 list announced layoffs last year, signaling leaner times ahead.
Still, history has shown that tough times aren’t enough to prevent the next great idea from taking hold. In fact, some of the most resilient startups were born in challenging economic environments. The Great Recession of 2008 produced Disruptor 50 companies that fundamentally changed the way people live and work, including Airbnb, Block, Pinterest, Cloudera, Slack and others.
In its original mission to identify the next generation of great public companies, this year’s Disruptor 50 list could be the most consequential yet. Nominees will be put through a comprehensive and rigorous process of researching and scoring across a wide range of quantitative and qualitative criteria, including scalability, revenue and user growth, as well as workforce diversity.
An advisory board made up of leading thinkers in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship will provide weighting for the quantitative criteria, while a team of CNBC editorial staff will read submissions and provide qualitative assessments of every single nominee.
2023 honorees will be notified in April, and the list will be released in May across CNBC’s TV and digital platforms.
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Correction: Checkout.com slashed its internal valuation to $11 billion, versus a previous investor valuation of $40 billion. An earlier version of this story misstated the valuation metric.