Unicorns, Exits, and Global Recognition: The Rise of Prague’s Tech Scene

Theo Dluhy-Smith
COO, Co-Founder

A review of Prague's tech landscape post-2020.

February 1, 2024

In a review we published back in 2020, we highlighted Prague as a hidden gem for tech companies. The city's historical context, educational setup, talented workforce, infrastructure, strategic location, lifestyle, and cost of living all signaled that success was brewing.

Now, four years on, as we dive into the scene again, we see many astonishing achievements. Prague has doubled its number of unicorns, displays a vibrant funding ecosystem further propelled by significant acquisitions, and the talented workforce has attracted large foreign players to set up local tech hubs. The city has now proven itself as a prime location for tech companies to thrive in.

As we begin to uncover the details, it’s important to note that the global funding ecosystem went through a major uptick in 2021 and 2022, which inflated Prague’s overall results. That being said, the results have still been significant, and we believe that the influx of capital will only further strengthen Prague’s position.

Unicorn status

Since 2020, two Czech companies have reached unicorn status, meaning they reached a valuation of $1B or higher. These companies were Rohlik in 2021 and Productboard in 2022. 

Founded in 2014, Rohlik has seen incredible growth as a grocery delivery company, offering same-day, 90-minute delivery, and to date, has raised $613M. With a technology-driven, data-led approach, Rohlik has become the fastest-growing online grocery shop in Central Europe. After bringing on a new CEO in November 2023, the company aims to grow its revenue to €10B by 2030

Productboard is a suite of product management software tools that is used by product management teams to effectively manage their product roadmaps. The company was valued at $1.7B after its most recent $125M Series D funding round in 2022. Productboard’s customers include enterprises such as Microsoft, Avast, Disney, and Zoom.

In the Czech Republic’s entire history, only two prior technology companies have reached unicorn status (AVG and Avast), so these recent achievements not only serve as great inspiration for local entrepreneurs but also build the belief that these achievements can be repeated.

Significant exits

There have also been many significant exits over the past few years.

The cybersecurity software company Avast was acquired for ~$8B by NortonLifeLock (now Gen)–a global leader in cyber safety. And the e-commerce platform Mall.cz was acquired for ~$1B by Allegro–an e-commerce leader in Central and Eastern Europe.

Similar to Silicon Valley, large exits are vitally important for the ecosystem to continue to thrive, as they provide fresh capital into the system that is often reinvested back into local startups, some of which could be on the path to similar exits.

Other acquisitions worth listing are Twisto by Zip, Socialbakers by Astute, Webnode by Team.blue, Manta by IBM, and Zasilkovna by CVC and Emma Capital. In addition, two startups launched by Czech founders in the US, Alter and Around, were acquired by Google and Miro respectively. These exits combined are estimated to be just short of $1.5B, showing that there is a large appetite for acquiring Czech companies.

Recent funding rounds and companies to watch

Looking at data provided by Czech Founders, we see that, throughout 2022 and 2023, Czech startups continued to raise capital at an impressive rate, raising a combined estimated amount of $1.7B. These funding rounds were spearheaded by interesting companies to keep an eye on such as Keboola, ThreatMark, Born Digital, Vrgineers, 1337, Vitadio, Lemonero, IP Fabric, Resistant AI, Woltair, Snuggs, and Investown.

Foreign companies opening tech hubs

Beyond the Czech startups that are part of the ecosystem, the talented candidate pool is also vitalizing the scene. We see many foreign companies building large teams here, looking to leverage Czech talent for research and development purposes. 

Publicly traded company Pure Storage, originally founded in Mountain View, California, has built a team of 510 people in the Czech Republic. Israel-founded Sentinel One has built a team of 208 people, and Veeam Software has grown its local team to 515 people (based on data from LinkedIn). Giants such as Microsoft and Apple also moved on the opportunity and have created large technology teams in the Czech Republic focused on developing the next versions of their products.

Our contribution

Our team at OAK’S LAB has also been busy contributing to the development of successful companies built by Prague-based talent. Examples include PlexTrac, an important US-based player in the cybersecurity space that has gone on to raise a $70M Series B funding round and grow to a team of 100+ employees, Nasdaq Private Market, a premier institutional marketplace for trading private company stock that has executed more than $45 billion in transactional volume, as well as Capital Markets Gateway, a fintech company defining the future of equity capital markets used by more than 100 institutional investment managers representing over $20 trillion in investable capital.

We can see that the development of Prague’s tech scene has been outstanding. Companies are growing, large exits are taking place, capital is being reinvested back into the ecosystem, and the talented workforce keeps expanding the boundaries of what the city can achieve. Momentum is contagious and these wins give the belief that Prague’s trajectory as a flourishing tech hub will continue up and to the right.

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EspressOOO Martini by Francesco:  1x vodka shot (50ml), 1x espresso shot (40ml), 2g of sugar, no coffee liqueur, mix well in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice for 30 sec to create foam, pour in martini glass and garnish with 3 coffee beans. See you at Groove.