Bubbles don’t usually fare well when they come in contact with pointy objects, so the results should not be surprising when one butts up against a mythical beast with a giant horn on its head. For a couple of years now, tech prognosticators have been predicting the end of the so-called unicorn bubble. “Unicorn,” in case you missed it, is Silicon Valley speak for private companies valued at more than a billion dollars, and there are an awful lot of them now. According to CB Insights, 169 companies are currently considered unicorns, compared to just 43 at the end of 2013. Combined, the companies are worth north of $600 billion. Such valuations are clearly not sustainable, and yet the amount of cash still pouring into businesses with no clear path to profitability is constantly vexing to those waiting for a unicorn reckoning. Some finance experts say they can stop waiting—the end is already here. “I think it’s in the middle of coming to an end right now,” said Vikram Mansharamani, an equity investor and lecturer at Yale University, whose 2011 book “Boombustology” examines the phenomenon of unsustainable financial booms. “We’re seeing bubble dynamics, if not a widespread bubble. Within those dynamics there are definitely winners, but there are also a lot of losers.” Even to the uninitiated, the winners are obvious. Companies such as Uber and Airbnb, both in the top five on CB’s list, have become so integral to people’s lives that most of us need no proof of their value. But scroll further down the list and you’re likely to scratch your head looking at names like Gusto, Zoox and ForeScout. What are they? Why are they? And who would pay $1 billion for them? While the unicorn bubble may not pop into oblivion overnight, Mansharamani cites examples suggesting it has been leaking air for some time. Snapchat, for instance, was hit with a significant write-down late last year from Fidelity Investments, despite being one of the few social media platforms guaranteed to attract teenagers en masse. At the beginning of 2016, Fidelity also wrote down another 19 startups, including significant valuation declines for Dropbox, Twilio and Zenefits, according to Fortune. And then there’s Evernote, the cloud-based organization platform, which famously reached a valuation of $1 billion in 2012—a figure Mansharamani called “ridiculous”—only to suffer monetization challenges and complaints of a bloated core product. The company has since undergone high-profile layoffs, office closures and the departure of its CEO. What was once a mythical creature is now an ominous cautionary tale, and some VCs say it’s both a sign of the times and of things to come. “Many startups are being told that they have no hope of raising more money and they should try to cut costs so they can be cash-flow positive,” said Peter Cohan, a venture capitalist and lecturer at Babson College. “Not all the startups will be able to do that. The ones that can’t will shut down.” That’s a shame, Mansharamani added, because in the end it’s the rank-and-file employees of startups who will suffer the consequences. “Employees join these companies thinking they have equity worth X, and find they have no equity and possibly no job,” he said.