AIAxiosArtificial intelligence is keeping the venture capital ecosystem afloat. It accounted for more than 40% of new private U.S. "unicorns" in the first half this year, and over 60% of the increase in total venture-backed valuation, per PitchBook.

The big picture: There were 13 new U.S. AI unicorns — private companies that reached valuations of over $1 billion — between Jan. 1 and June 25 of this year.

  • Elon Musk's xAI on its own added $24 billion in valuation, while all AI unicorn companies combined added $116 billion in aggregate value.
  • Overall U.S. unicorn value has grown by $162 billion so far this year.

Follow the money: Over the past few years, AI accounted for about 15%-17% of venture dollars invested in North America and Europe. That number increased to about 20% in 2023 and is rising even more in 2024, according to PitchBook senior emerging technology analyst Brendan Burke.

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