Tech unicorns flock south to Code Conference

Unicorn disruptors
Silentfoto | Getty Images

The unicorns are galloping south.

Top executives at billion-dollar start-ups Airbnb, Houzz, Pinterest, Slack, Snapchat and Stripe are among the keynote speakers lined up for the second annual Code Conference, brought to you by our partners at Re/code.

From Tuesday through Thursday of next week, influencers in technology, media and business at large will flock to Southern California (Ranchos Palos Verdes, 30 miles south of Los Angeles, to be precise) for the event. Other speakers include General Motors CEO Mary Barra, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts.

Read MoreSlack valuation more than doubles to $2.8 billion

You can bet that the term "unicorn" will come up frequently, often in jest.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there are now 93 private venture-backed companies valued at $1 billion or more, up from 56 a year ago. (Tweet This) With so much capital sloshing around start-up land, valuing businesses based on the great things they may do three to five to seven years down the road, fewer companies are finding a reason to go public.

In the first quarter, there were five tech IPOs that brought in $1.3 billion in proceeds, compared to an average of 15 per quarter last year, according to a report this week from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel is kicking off the festivities Tuesday afternoon. His photo messaging app is valued at $15 billion. Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann has a prime spot the following day to talk about his $11 billion online bulletin board.

Spiegel and Silbermann are likely to be grilled on their money-making plans, as to date both have been valued on the many millions of users who access the services daily and the potential revenue that could follow. Both recently rolled out advertising products, but they're still very nascent and in the experimental phase.

Read MorePinterest now worth $11 billion

Revenue isn't a problem for Airbnb's Brian Chesky, whose room-sharing company carries a $10 billion price tag. Rather, it's the company's ongoing battle with regulators that most often captures the headlines.

Airbnb says the regulations need to be updated to account for changing behaviors and the impact of technology. Chesky recently told CNBC that in 2014 Airbnb brought $1.15 billion to New York through all its rooms and apartments rented out in the city.

Meanwhile, for Slack's Stewart Butterfield and his rapid ascent to $2.8 billion, the biggest challenge may be fending off the competition. HipChat, Convo, Quip, Asana and Microsoft's Yammer are just some of the rival enterprise communication tools on the market.

Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher
From left: Denise Truscello | WireImage Getty Images; AllThingsD
Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher

In the 11 years prior to the 2014 launch of Code, tech's most prominent leaders could be found at the D: All Things Digital conference. That's when Re/code co-CEOs Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg were publishing the tech blog AllThingsD.

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt are just a few of the names that joined Swisher and Mossberg on stage over the years.

Read MoreTech bubble will be on debate at Code Conference

The rest of this year's featured speaker list includes Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker, Reddit interm CEO Ellen Pao and GoPro CEO Nick Woodman.

Disclosure: NBC News group is a minority stakeholder in Re/code and the companies have a content sharing partnership.